Interviews

Burberry partners with luxury fashion platform for Dream Assembly startup accelerator

5 min read

20 April 2018

Deputy Editor, Business Advice

To help startup founders in the fashion and technology industries access mentoring, networking opportunities and funding access, ecommerce platform Farfetch has announced its Dream Assembly accelerator programme – with a heavyweight partner already on board.

The accelerator will give successful applicants direct access to Farfetch’s own expertise as a luxury fashion and technology business over a 12-week course, and participating startups will also receive networking opportunities and connections to their industry.

The programme will take place from Farfetch’s Lisbon offices in Portugal, with key modules including ecommerce, marketing, logistics and operations.

Real Business caught up with the platform’s chief strategic officer, Stephanie Phair, to find out why now was the right time to launch Dream Assembly, and what participating startups can expect to gain from Farfetch and one of the fashion world’s most iconic brands.

“It is about enabling the ecosystem for the luxury, fashion and tech industries,” Phair told us. “What we want to do is bring together the innovators who are shaping the future of commerce and give them a leg up to accelerate their businesses and deliver a transfer of knowledge and experience that Farfetch – and our partners – can bring in.”

In recent years, few fashion brands have harnessed the power of ecommerce as successfully as British icon Burberry. As the first partner joining Dream Assembly, Phair is sure Burberry will offer unparalleled support for promising startups in the luxury and technology sectors. But what makes her so confident?

“As a platform for the industry, we felt there were certain things Farfetch could offer but we also wanted to bring in outside expertise,” she explained.

“If we had to bring one brand in to offer that luxury point of view – that has also embraced the digital revolution – that brand is Burberry. It has one foot firmly on each side: luxury fashion and digital. We felt Burberry was an ideal partner for this and we’re so excited to have them on board.”

Commenting on Burberry’s involvement with the accelerator, Daniel Heaf, the brand’s digital commerce and digital marketing SVP, said: “We are delighted to deepen our relationship with Farfetch by partnering with them on the inaugural Dream Assembly accelerator.

“We believe open innovation, collaboration and sharing our expertise with earlier-stage companies will encourage more creativity across the whole luxury sector. We are excited to support the most promising companies of tomorrow.”

Tapping into this knowledge could be invaluable for such businesses, and the programme’s offering reflects Farfetch founder Jose Neves’ own experiences as a startup founder. Having spent the past ten years building Farfetch into the leading platform for luxury fashion brands seeking a mass audience, it looks as though Neves now wants to give back to the community.

“I think that is the key driver,” Phair added. “Going back to Farfetch’s origins, Jose Neves was an entrepreneur himself and the business was very small at that point. [Now], he talks about the need for networks, support, introductions and the need to test a product.”

Phair added that while most Dream Assembly applicants could be startup companies in the luxury fashion sector, a broader cross-section of firms working to make the wider ecommerce experience more seamless – such as AI and personalisation – would also benefit from the programme.

“We’re keeping it quite open – any business thinking about the future and revolutionising the way customers shop for fashion and luxury. But we are keeping it open to commerce because there may be some interesting tools that could reach a mass market.”

Global venture capital firm, 500 Startups has also joined as a partner. Following the success of its Silicon Valley-based Seed Accelerator programme, its funding gurus will provide sales and marketing expertise for participants, including a week in San Francisco.

Applications to join the accelerator’s first round open today and will close 10 June 2018. The Dream Assembly website provides all details on how to apply.