Growing a startup in a competitive fashion industry is one rocky path for the small and inexperienced. Yale Kochman’s Fash&Tech Innovation Centre is just the place to turn to for those, eager to make it big in the fashion innovation field and have some fun on the way. 

 

Yael Kochman and Netta Stavinsky started a meetup group in May 2013. The group grew into a much bigger project, now called Fash&Tech Innovation Centre, a premier organization working to promote fashion and retail tech startups in Israel. Below is the story of how Yael’s startup became a platform for the many fashion startups in the Israel’ fashion technology scene.

Yael sure does have her fingers in many pies. In 2001, Prior to founding Fash&Tech, she created an Israeli fashion startup, IL Couture. It was an e-commerce platform for young innovative fashion designers, an idea not too far off from the current mission of Fash&Tech. Back then, investors didn’t put much faith into Yael’s project:

We could not get investors interested in our venture. Investors were looking for a technological innovation, which they did not see in our venture…The truth was, it was just not sexy enough for them. So we decided to make it sexy.

That led to the creation of the meetup group. Within a year after it took off, the group dramatically increased it’s numbers from 35 to 600 people, which included big flashy brands like ASOS and Ebay. But how did they manage to stand out in Israel, saturated with similar entrepreneurship meetup groups? The answer is simple: it was the focus on customers, the entrepreneurs. Each meetup they were provided with a real added value. From speedating with bloggers and to meeting industry leaders and journalists, each meetup had a different value relevant to the startups.


Yael managed Fash&Tech for 4 years, until recently she decided to take the vibrant community of over 1600 members and leverage it to help Israeli fashion tech startups grow and scale. It is now bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, bloggers, brands, designers and everyone else interested in fashion innovation. Fash&Tech run different innovation programs that enable tech startup to grow, get funded and connect with international brands and industry leaders. At its’ heart is the idea of bringing a group of people passionate about fashion but with differing skillsets together.
In Yael’s own words:

Fash&Tech is not a startup, it’s a community of startups. I started it as a meetup group when I had my own fashion startup because I felt there was no place for fashion in the tech world.

But what exactly are the activities and services that Fash&Tech provides?
The company reaches out to it’s clients in three main ways: through the bootcamp, the meetup group and the hub. The hub is all about co-working between the fashion tech start-ups and service provider. The meetup group serves a similar purpose of a space for the brand to network and collaborate. And last but not least, the bootcamp, which is a 5-day mini-acceleration program, designed specifically for early stage fashion-tech startups with ground-breaking ideas. During the 5 days the startups are working with top mentors and industry leaders to optimize their product, strategy, and pitch. By the 5th day, they are be ready to wow investors in the closing pitching event.

\And, of course, there are the fashion shows. A particularly curious event that took place in Tel-Aviv was A Fash&Tech Runway party in Rotschild Boulevard, that turned into a catwalk. It was a huge street party with music, drinks and thousands of people on the crowd. The main event was a fashion show, a no ordinary one too. It featured fashion innovation by designers and entrepreneurs, such as new types of fabrics and wearable tech. After the incredible success of the Runway Party, more are coming up.


One of the company’s future initiatives is the FashTech Stage. An international fashion tech event in Tel-Aviv, which will take place in September 2017 in collaboration with People and Computers and Azrieli Group. The event will feature a fashion tech runway show and other interactive elements. Yael really does keep it fun:

Israelis are very creative people, and so is fashion. I think it is the perfect combination between the ‘serious’ techie part of entrepreneurship and the fun/creative/light part of it

Aside from all these spectacular and tech-savvy initiatives, aimed at helping fashion innovation startups grow, Fash&Tech also produces dozens of events and workshops per year, hosts delegations of international companies and facilitates 1:1 meetings between startups and investors and industry leaders. An all-round approach to business indeed!

Now, aside from Yael’s involvement with Fash&Tech, she is also a head of the Israeli-based content marketing platform Roojoom, and a marketing consultant focusing on content strategy and inbound marketing. The list of her achievements goes on. This business lady is a speaker, event moderator, and blog author with her articles featured in publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, Business to Community and many others. It is more than curious to see how her Fash&Tech “community of startups” will be changing the fashion scene.

 

 

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