Why More Retailers Became Startup Incubators In 2016

by MR Magazine Staff

The tech scene is known for its unfashionable choices. But now the fashion crowd is on its way in: Today, corporations fund more than a quarter of early-stage startups in the EU. And fashion retailers want in on the incubation game. Big brands have been setting up their own in-house bootcamps — aka incubators or accelerators — to rub shoulders with entrepreneurs in retail. John Lewis started its own JLab program in 2013, but this year others including Topshop, Asos and SimplyBe-owner N Brown Group all followed suit. They’ve given money into ideas ranging from heated clothing to an Instagram shopping tool. “Fashion-tech has been hot in the last three years,” explained Tom Montgomery, managing partner at retail investment firm Allegro Capital. “So retail companies are now adopting some of the fairly well-trod paths to innovation.” Brands, and their venture capital partners, pitch their incubators as a mutually beneficial relationship. Sometimes there’s equity involved, sometimes not, but there’s always a promise that startups will get lucrative advice and access to decision-makers. Meanwhile, retailers get access to new (and cheap) technology while it’s in its infancy, ahead of their rivals. Read more at Digiday.