Have you heard of the New York Fashion Tech (NYFT) Lab?
In case you haven’t, I’ll fill you in: The NYFT Lab is a 12-week accelerator program for early- and growth-stage startup companies. The program, which was co-founded by Springboard Enterprises, a network of innovators and investors that build women-led businesses, and the Partnership Fund for New York City, enables innovative retail tech startups to partner with leading fashion and retail brands. Firms could be involved in 3-D printing, business intelligence, fit-tech, geolocation, point of sale and stockkeeping unit intelligence. The goal is to match retailers with one to two startups with whom they can potentially pilot the technology the startups are presenting. The retailers that have been involved in the three-year program to date have been pretty impressive: LVMH, J.Crew, Ralph Lauren, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Estee Lauder, Kate Spade, Fossil and Coach, to name just a few.
This year, the program has decided to turn its attention solely to early- and growth-stage, women-led fashion technology firms. Applicants must have at least one woman on their management team with a significant equity stake. While the focus on women may be new to the accelerator, it’s not new to Springboard. In fact, over the past 15 years, Springboard has assisted many women-led, early-stage firms in a wide range of industries that include many milestones: 599 women-led portfolio companies; $6.8 billion in capital raised; 150-plus mergers and acquisitions transactions; and 11 initial public offerings.
Currently, the accelerator is vetting applicants. In early February, NYFT Lab and its fashion and retail partners will confer and eight to 10 companies will be selected for the 2016 program. By mid-February, the retail partners select the two tech companies they would like to be paired with. During the 12-week program (which runs from March to June), retailers have regular meetings with their paired companies, where they can assist in product development, product value proposition and integration issues, as well as mentor tech companies, attend NYFT Lab-hosted sessions, pilot the technologies and participate in the final presentation sessions at “Demo Day.”
Pretty cool, huh? Are you interested in partnering with the NYFT Lab? If so, check out the site to learn how!