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Farfetch unveils tech start-up initiative

Farfetch is launching an accelerator initiative to foster technology start-ups, enlisting Burberry as its first partner organisation.

The initiative, called the Dream Assembly, will offer a 12-week biannual programme that will allow start-ups to access early-stage funding as well as mentoring and networking opportunities.

Each cohort will consist of up to 10 start-ups. The first programme will begin in early September with partners Burberry and venture capital firm 500 Startups.

Burberry will provide modules for the programme, while 500 Startups will provide mentoring as well as sales and marketing expertise, including a week based in San Francisco.

Farfetch chief strategy officer Stephanie Phair told Drapers that the team is keeping a “relatively broad” remit for eligible start-ups, so long as they focus on commerce and specifically luxury fashion.

This could include products that either “better serve the end-customer online or in stores, or provide solutions for our partners”, as well as “new business models that develop luxury fashion operations and logistics solutions”.

Phair said: “We are thinking about end-to-end technologies that can move the dial on those experiences. It is also about understanding where we can add benefits to these start-ups.”

The start-ups will be set up with €30,000 (£26,000) of seed funding, structured as a convertible loan note.

Phair explained: “It means we can invest in early-stage start-ups without at that moment understanding their valuation. Oftentimes they come with an MVP (minimum viable product) or prototype for a product and we want to make sure we have the ability to back those.”

The initiative will be based at Farfetch’s offices in Lisbon, Portugal.

The news comes after a string of start-up initiatives were announced in recent weeks.

Earlier this week, Net-a-Porter founder and Farfetch co-chairman Dame Natalie Massenet’s new venture capital firm Imaginary Ventures closed its first fund of $75m (£52m).

Imaginary Ventures said it will invest across the fashion, beauty, wellness, food and beverage, and lifestyle sectors, and launches with a strong portfolio of investments including Appear Here, Daily Harvest, Dirty Lemon, Everlane, Farfetch, Glossier, Good American, Heist, Hum Nutrition, Keeps and Universal Standard.

Last week French luxury group LVMH also launched a start-up accelerator, with plans to support 50 international businesses each year.

Through the initiative, LVMH aims to promote collaboration between entrepreneurs and its 70 brands to invent new products and services for the luxury market.

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