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business Startups

UK fashion entrepreneurs take note: $1.5m up for grabs via WeWork’s Creator Awards

WeWork's Creator Awards will take place in London on September 14
WeWork’s Creator Awards will take place in London on September 14

Co-working business WeWork is offering a grant of over $1.5 million to UK entrepreneurs, SMBs, non-profits and artists as part of its Creator Awards this summer; a global initiative that will hand out a total of $20 million worldwide to innovative projects and the people behind them.

The team is looking to recognise and reward those who are thinking in new ways, building fresh projects and achieving real change across all industries. Fashion falls comfortably within that bracket, but what’s better is any stage of growth is relevant; whether you have an established business or even just the beginnings of a good idea.

Prizes from $18,000 to $360,000 are up for grabs across three categories in a bid to offer opportunity to as many different types of creators as possible. The Incubate award is for individuals with an idea or project that needs funding; the Launch award is for start-ups and non-profits that have launched but are still learning; and the Scale award is for those with a record of success that are ready for the next level.

“We’re a company that wants to provide people with an energy source. We want to provide people with motivation, excitement. We want them to love what they do,” Miguel McKelvey, co-founder and chief creative officer of WeWork, says in the above video. This is the first year of what’s set to be an annual programme.

The barrier to enter is low too – all you have to do is fill out a form and submit a 90-second video by the deadline of August 24. The regional finals will then take place in London on September 14, before the Creator Awards Global Finals in New York in November.

At the first three regional finals in the US, Emily Kane won $36,000 for GirlForward to bring her English Language Learning curriculum online to support girls who have been displaced by conflict and persecution around the world. Donovan Morrison won $72,000 for Luna Lights to help bring the safety light solution to 20 assisted living communities and 600 older adults this year. And Samuel Bain won $180,000 for Imerman Angels to take the one-on-one Cancer Support Community beyond the US.

London’s event on September 14 will also include a full day of public programming, a pop-up market with local sellers and a job fair. Further Creator Awards will be hosted in Berlin, Mexico City and Tel Aviv.

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business e-commerce mobile Startups technology

Fashion features heavily among the 33 companies selected for Tech City UK Upscale programme

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK at the launch of the Upscale 2017 programme in London
Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK at the launch of the Upscale 2017 programme in London

Numerous early stage fashion and e-commerce businesses are among the new intake for Tech City UK’s six-month Upscale programme.

Included are Mastered, an online education platform for creative professionals led by industry experts; Poq, an app commerce solution for major retailers; Wolf & Badger, a global online marketplace for independent brands; and Trouva, a curated online shopping site pulling together 150 independent boutiques.

Many of the others bring further relevancy to the fashion industry, including real-time video platform Grabyo, which has worked with brands in the past including Hunter, where it delivered instantaneous highlights from the catwalk to Twitter fans during London Fashion Week.

StoryStream, which enables live storytelling for brands through content curation and publishing, has also previously worked with events company Decoded Fashion at one of its hackathons.

Across the board, the Upscale companies represent a wide spread of sectors that reflect the UK’s strengths – from e-commerce, to fintech, as well as increasingly important areas like data analytics. They are flagged as companies that could grow into the next generation of digital household names.

Others the fashion industry might find benefit from include Cambridge Intelligence, an artificial intelligence company that helps companies see patterns and insights in their data; LivingLens, which provides brands and agencies with a way of searching and using hours of video content; and Streetbees, which gathers market research insights from around the world through artificial intelligence and geo-location.

This is the second year of the Upscale programme under Tech City UK’s mission to accelerate the growth of the UK’s digital economy. In the 2016 pilot, other fashion and retail businesses including Edited, Metail, Appear Here, Depop and Snap Fashion participated.

The latest cohort gain access to mentorship from some of the UK’s most successful tech entrepreneurs including Lastminute.com founders Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman; successful investor and Lovefilm founder Saul Klein; Candy Crush creator Riccardo Zacconi; Blippar co-founder Jess Butcher; and Just Eat founder David Buttress. The aim is to help them begin their scaling journey.

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, said: “One of the objectives of Tech City UK is to accelerate the growth of the country’s digital and tech sector. The companies that join our Upscale programme have already overcome significant hurdles and have the makings of brilliant businesses.”

The companies joining have raised $4.1 million in funding on average, and have average revenues of just over $1 million per year. See the full list of those selected to participate on the TechCityUK.com site.

This story first appeared on Forbes.com

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social media

New Look: Social media and the globalisation of trends

New Look

There was one particularly interesting bit about New Look’s results announcement yesterday, and that surrounded how global trends now travel thanks to social media.

As its profits surged 17%, the value fashion retailer’s CEO Anders Kristiansen said that “fashion is becoming more and more the same around the world”.

Now that may seem like a no-brainer but until now, it hasn’t been. Having worked in fashion for more decades than I care to remember, I’ve often been surprised about how slowly or how little trends do play out around the world. And I’ve seen more than one ‘global’ retailer exit certain markets because the product designed in country X just doesn’t resonate in country Y.

The arrival of the internet itself didn’t necessarily change this, it just made it more noticeable.

But now it’s social media that’s calling the shots and that has made a huge difference. Trends are travelling fast and exposure to those trends is rubbing away at the differences in taste between countries.

“We used to see a big difference in different countries, but because of social media, trends are the same,” Anders added. “A massive trend in the UK — like bomber jackets at the moment — is the same in Beijing and Bordeaux.”

Which must be good news for New Look as it’s earmarked £100m worth of investment to expand into Germany and grow its existing stores in China. It’s targeting 75 German stores within five years (from the current single concession store there) and plans to open 50 more Chinese stores for a total of 142.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

Categories
product technology

Experiencing the smart home: John Lewis’ new try-before-you-buy tech space

John Lewis Smart Home-8

Unless you work in tech, or have an early adopter obsession with tech, the likelihood that you’ve seen a smart home in action is pretty slim. In fact, even then, your experience may still have been limited to a trade show floor or the odd piece of kit you’ve bought for your own place.

There’s no denying, however, there’s growing interest in this concept, and at the heart of that, a desire to know more about it.

British department store John Lewis has seen 18 times the number of shoppers searching for smart home-related products on its website compared to a year ago (December 2014 – December 2015) for instance. It’s for that reason it has set up a new experiential space dedicated to smart home technology and an Internet of Things (IoT) future, in its flagship Oxford Street store in London.

Designed to feel like a real-life setting with different rooms complete with home furnishings, the 1,000 sq ft area enables shoppers to see products that would otherwise just be boxed on shelves, in action in a contextual sense. The theory is that there’s a need with such new technology to really touch and experience it first-hand – and to have expert help available to assist with it too.

Head over to Forbes to read the full story, including detail of the product on show as well as John Lewis’ storytelling aims.

Categories
e-commerce

Christmas shopping set for four-day take-off in the UK

christmasshopping

Britons are going to go on a spending binge in the next four days that will blow the Black Friday long weekend’s spending out of the water. And online will benefit as well as physical stores, despite the delivery drawbridge getting precariously close to being pulled up.

Who says so? The analysts at MasterCard SpendingPulse who are measuring both card and cash sales and who think the festive shopping season is finally set for take-off.

They’re predicting a four-day spend starting Saturday (December 19) that will hit £5.9bn. That easily beats the Black Friday long weekend’s £5.74bn. And while those amounts may not look massively different from each when written in billions, in numbers it’s actually £160,000,000.

MasterCard’s Mark Barnett said: “The shift to shopping online is undeniable, but high streets and shopping malls still dominate with four out of five pounds spent offline. Last year, consumers left their shopping late, and we are expecting many to do the same this year. As we get closer to Christmas grocery shopping starts to dominate sales, but gifts of clothing and electronics can expect to see strong growth also.”

He also said that even with the short delivery window for online shopping, e-commerce growth on last year will still be an impressive 24% over the four days.

Apparently that’s a reflection of the fact that shoppers have a lot of confidence in retailers’ ability to deliver on time… Hmmm, good luck with that!

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday. Image via Vintag.es.

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e-commerce Editor's pick

Black Friday: Best day ever says John Lewis as wearables & key brands surge

John Jewis Christmas Ad 2015

John Lewis celebrated 150 years of successful trading last year. But that was nothing compared to the celebrations today as the company revealed its biggest trading day – ever – on Black Friday. Just think about it. In the roughly 35,000 days that John Lewis has traded on this planet – last Friday saw it taking more money than any other single day in its history, even adjusted for inflation.

John Lewis took in 11.9% more revenue than the same day last year and some of that money was mine (one vacuum cleaner, two metres of silk and an anti-moth spray). But it wasn’t people like me shopping in-store who drove the rise. It was johnlewis.com that raked in the cash.

The stores, meanwhile, were busier at the weekend with sales on Saturday up 9.3%. All of which was different to last year when the novelty of Black Friday itself generated an in-store rush.

On Black Friday, johnlewis.com saw sales peaking between 09:00 and 10:00 when the site was taking 4.9 orders per second. The firm’s distribution teams processed 18% more parcels across Friday, Saturday and Sunday compared to last year, and processed five units per second during its peak hour.

Not that it was all plain sailing as the site was one of those that crashed on Friday due to the weight of demand. But it obviously didn’t affect business for too long.

So what were the standout successes on the product front? Wearable tech rose 932% with Fitbits up over 1,329%. Barbour products rose 61% online and Ted Baker was up 66%. GHD hair stylers were up 83% and Dyson vacuum cleaners rose 208% (helped along by me, of course).

Retail director Mark Lewis said the move from online to in-store between Friday and Saturday showed “that more than ever customers like to mix and match channels to shop in the most convenient way for them.”

Meanwhile, Cyber Monday sales in the US were on track to smash all records yesterday, but they were also causing headaches with websites crashing or, at best, slowing down.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

Categories
Startups technology

John Lewis’ JLAB announces five start-up finalists for 2015

JLABpitchers_FINAL

John Lewis is focusing on retail services and connected devices in its second annual start-up accelerator program.

The 2015 JLAB finalists include a digital queue management system for stores called Qudini; an app-based coffee shop created by three teenagers called Space Lounges; a platform that allows connected home users to control all of their devices through one portal called Alfred; a camera device that lets you see who is at your front door called Peeple; and a wearables team called Ikinen who have developed the Helios solar-powered cover for iPhone users.

A total of 21 participated in a pitch day earlier this month (as per the above shot). Said Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis: “The five start-ups we’ve chosen certainly demonstrate what a wealth of great ideas there is out there. Each idea has huge potential to bring something new, whether to our customers’ experience of shopping or consumers’ everyday lives.”

Each will be given initial funding and office space within John Lewis’s head office for 12 weeks from early July, and access to a full panel of mentors, of which I am delighted to be one. Look out for my diary entry on the experience later this summer following the second pitch day in September, which will crown the final winner with a prize of up to £100,000 in funding.

The scheme is run in partnership with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks and his venture fund, L Marks. Last year’s winner was beacon-provider Localz.

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Comment e-commerce Editor's pick social media

Social media-proofing our wardrobes is a real thing

tkmaxx_socialmediaproofing

Are selfies now impacting our spending habits? Perhaps that goes without saying on the basis of wanting to look good, but new research from TK Maxx in the UK, also shows the population is buying more in a bid to not appear online in the same clothes twice.

In a move that sounds more Kim Kardashian than Kate Middleton, the retailer asserts that while the ultimate fashion faux pas used to be turning up to a party in the same outfit as someone else, today it’s all about being tagged more than once in it on social media.

A reported 28% of Brits admitted they buy new clothes just to avoid being multi-tagged in the same outfit, while 18% of them said they wouldn’t wear a look again if they knew there was a chance of it appearing online.

Better yet – men appear the biggest culprits, spending an average of £61 to “safeguard against this modern day anxiety”, as opposed to women’s £53.50. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were cited as relevant platforms.

The study from TK Maxx, which polled 2,000 men and women from ages 18 to over 60, follows the launch of its spring/summer 2015 campaign celebrating the style of 10 of its customers.

Association with such insights is of course a smart move for a retailer that bases its branding on offering more for less. As Deborah Dolce, group brand and marketing director at TK Maxx, encourages: “We encourage people of all ages, shapes and tastes to enjoy expressing their style from within the wide and ever changing selection of designer finds and unique gems in our stores. Since our savings are outstanding, we’d love people to have some fun creating their own looks. Shoppers can find great labels and quality and curate many outfits that they love for less to ensure that their wardrobe is socially media-proofed.”

This post first appeared on WGSN.com/blogs

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Editor's pick mobile Startups technology

John Lewis announces beacon technology start-up Localz as £100k JLAB incubator winner

This post first appeared on WGSN.com/blogs

Jlab_Localz

Beacon technology got another nod of approval from the retail sector today as start-up Localz was announced as the winner of John Lewis’ JLAB tech incubator.

The ‘micro-location’ technology business wins £100,000 in investment as well as the chance to trial its solution with the department store in the UK. Its premise is to provide customers with access to enhanced services on their smartphones based on their physical location.

It could detect when they walk into a store, for instance, and automatically trigger that their Click & Collect order be prepared in order to help speed up that process. Similarly it could help with navigation around the stores based on online wish lists.

“It’s all about choice, designed to make shopping easier for those who wish to use it,” reads the write-up.

The concept was shaped and honed within the JLAB incubator over a period of 12 weeks this summer. It followed hundreds of start-ups applying to participate in the contest, which called for innovations that could shape the future of the retail experience.

Localz was among five finalists that received mentorship from experts including Luke Johnson, chairman of Risk Capital Partners; Sara Murray OBE, founder of confused.com; and Bindi Karia, vice president of entrepreneur banking at Silicon Valley Bank. The other start-ups were Musaic, SpaceDesigned, Tap2Connect and Viewsy.

Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis, said: “Innovation is at the heart of John Lewis and JLAB, our first tech incubator, has given us a new way to explore the technologies that will change how we all shop in the future. It’s been a hugely rewarding and educational experience, drawing on a diverse group of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives, and we have a very worthy winner who we’re looking forward to working with in the months ahead.”

Stuart Marks, a partner in JLAB, said Localz won because the team felt it had the potential to become a long term partner to John Lewis and to provide continuous innovation for their customers. It will continue to develop its technology in conjunction with John Lewis and will launch live trials in store at a date yet to be announced.

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social media

French Connection launches in-store #selfie campaign

#canthelpmyselfie_press_small

French Connection is launching the “ultimate selfie challenge” in the UK this spring.

Kickstarting officially in London on April 24, the retailer is introducing a campaign called #canthelpmyselfie, inviting shoppers to snap pictures of themselves to create a live display of its seasonal collection in store windows.

Fans are invited to book an appointment via the website for a variety of stores around the country (starting in Regent Street this week before touring to five other cities including Manchester and Newcastle through May) – once there they will select their favourite pieces from the line to wear, indulge in  a mini makeover session and then jump into an interactive selfie booth to snap their photo for the whole high street to see.

Jon Carney, creative partner at digital agency Somewhat, which collaborated on the project, said: “Mobile and social channels are an essential part of how millennial consumers interact with brands, and especially how they can experience fashion brands. As consumers’ physical and digital worlds are increasingly converging and colliding, brands need to respond with campaigns that bridge both worlds seamlessly.”

The real-time “phy-gital” initiative, as its being referred to, simultaneously employs live engagement with passersby by inviting them to ‘vote’ for their favourite look by placing their hand in front of sensors in the windows. The best selfies selected will be in with a chance of winning a £1,000 shopping spree.