Katie: Can you give us some background about NYFTLab? How many companies have participated in the lab to date?
Jackie: The New York Fashion Tech Lab (established in 2014) is a community-driven, relationship-building, collaboration, and business development platform. The nonprofit program was co-founded by Springboard Enterprises and key fashion retailers to support women-led companies that have developed innovations at the intersection of fashion, retail, and technology.
We run one 12-week program a year and are currently in our 8th lab (which launched on March 23rd). We have had 58 companies participate in the program, and 6 more just joined us for this year’s cohort. You can see a full list here: https://nyftlab.com/all-labs.
K: What does NYFTLab’s program look like for a startup from applying to completing the program?
J: We take applications beginning in the fall through winter and announce our cohorts each spring. We look for B2B, women-led fashion and retail technology startups addressing a broad range of retail challenges. The full list of categories can be found here: https://nyftlab.com/whoshouldapply.
We then review the applicants with our fashion, retail, and program partners and as a group select each year’s cohort. From March-June, these women-led companies participate in our 12-week program, during which they are able to collaborate with NYFTLab’s network of fashion retailers, investors, and other industry experts + participate in weekly sessions. This ecosystem allows for product feedback and, sometimes, partnerships and pilots. Collaboration, workshops, and exposure are core to our programming. The main aim is to help the Lab Companies develop their solutions that address leading challenges within the fashion and broader retail industry.
The 12-week program wraps up with a Tech Runway Demo Day, where the Lab Company founders present to fashion and retail executives, investors, and press. It’s always an exciting event that showcases the great work each company has put in throughout the program.
K: How can retailers and brands get involved with some of the startups in NYFTLab?
J: Contact us to get involved. We are currently confirming partners for our 2022 lab, so it’s a great time to reach out. We have worked with over 35 retail and brand partners, several of which participate year after year. To get involved with NYFTLab, contact Jackie Trebilcock.
K: Are there any standouts from the 2021 Lab Companies? How are they well positioned to impact the retail industry?
These companies are joining the first fully virtual program from across the globe, joining us from Germany, London, Australia, California, North Carolina, and Toronto. We’ve just kicked off this year’s program and are looking forward to watching these companies develop over the next couple of months.
- LiSA - Co-Founder & CEO: Sophie Frères- Livestream shopping experience for e-commerce.
- Reflekt Me - Co-Founder & CEO: Tope Mitchell- Drive product recommendations and create an inclusive shopping experience.
- Save Your Wardrobe - Founder & CEO: Hasna Kourda- Streamline the post purchase experience through an ecosystem of aftercare services.
- Vntana - Co-Founder & CEO: Ashley Crowder - SaaS Platform that optimizes, manages and distributes 3D models for apparel, footwear and accessories.
- Xesto - Founder & CEO: Sophie Howe - Sizing tool for footwear and accessories, accessible on any website.
- 3D Robe - Co-Founder: Natalie Johnson - 3D fashion files ready to be sold as NFTs, traded and worn in the metaverse.
At RILA’s Retail Innovation Center, we are working to help leading retailers navigate those challenges by connecting retailers with the startups, investors, and technologies that will drive retail in the 21st century. Looking for more? Visit the RIC’s Insights on-Demand page for blogs, webinars, and startup pitch videos.
More on NYFTLab:
WOMEN’S WEAR DAILY / MARCH 23, 2021
2021 PRESS RELEASE / MARCH 23, 2021
Retail Innovation Center
Technology & Innovation