3 years ago my partner Netta Stavinsky and I started a venture called IL Couture – an e-commerce platform for young innovative fashion designers. We had a great business model, worked with over 30 Israeli designers and were featured in over 25 magazines and blogs worldwide. Yet, we could not get investors interested in our venture. Investors were looking for a technological innovation, which they did not see in our venture.
But they were wrong. E-commerce platforms have a huge potential to become billion dollar companies – see Asos, Net-A-Porter and ETSY. Every day we read in the newspapers about a new mobile app, with no technological innovation what so ever, get funded. So the lack of technology wasn’t it. The truth was, it was just not sexy enough for them. So we decided to make it sexy.
Creating a space for Fash & tech in Israel
Netta and I felt that there was no space in Israel for fashion innovation. We decided to do something about it. We started a meetup group called Fash & Tech. We invited some friends of ours with ventures in the fashion or e-commerce industries and held the first meetup. Almost 40 people came to that first meeting, a little over a year ago, and we had great keynote speakers: Daria Shualy – the first lady of Israeli fashion entrepreneurship and the Founder of Grab.it and Niv Korah from Eva Ventures – a VC that only invests in ventures that have at least one female founder.
Fast forward to a year later, and our small community now has almost 500 people, including entrepreneurs, investors, bloggers, designers and everyone else interested in fashion innovation. From meetup to meetup more and more people show up, some not even related to fashion. There are dozens of other entrepreneurship groups in Israel, all holding great meetups, so what is our secret? It is simple: we focus on our customers – the entrepreneurs on our group. Each meetup we provide them with a real added value. From speedating with bloggers and to meeting industry leaders and journalists, each meetup has a different value relevant to the startups.
Promoting young entrepreneurs
One of our most successful events was our Fash & Tech pitch night, where 5 startups presented to a panel of 7 distinguished judges, including 5 investors from VC’s such as Aleph, lool and Carmel ventures. Following the event the presenting startups received substantial press coverage, and some of them closed their funding rounds. Read more about our pitch night in the Roojoom below:
Moreover, we are always here for them, even between meetups. We provide personal guidance and introductions as well as PR opportunities. Netta and myself, as well as our groups’ sponsors, vika Kanar and Rebecca Mandel from Bottom Line Consulting, are constantly working to promote the startups in our group and create new opportunities for them. In addition to the meetups we started a Facebook group where everyone can network in between the events, and due to high demand for ongoing information we started our own website: www.fashtechil.com. The website features startups from our group as well as a blog where any entrepreneur can guest post. We also plan to add a job board as well as a section with entrepreneurial resources.
What’s next for Fash & Tech Israel?
On top of the activities mentioned above, we are planning a huge event in Mid-September: A Fash & Tech Runway party in Rotschild Boulevard in Tel-Aviv – a huge street party with music, drinks and thousands of people on the crowd. The main event would be a fashion show, but not an ordinary fashion show – the show will feature fashion innovation by designers and entrepreneurs, such as new types of fabrics, wearable tech and more. We believe this event would showcase Israel’s best fashion innovations, and it will be a huge opportunity for the presenting startups to gain global exposure. We are currently looking for sponsors for this event, so please get in touch with me for more information. Other than the opportunity to promote Fash & Tech innovation, sponsors will get international exposure as well as press coverage.