When it comes to starting a business, there are a number of hurdles to overcome. One area that can often grind the whole project to a holt is financing. It can be intensely frustrating to know that you have a fantastic fashion idea and yet you cannot realise your dream because you simply cannot afford the capital.
Incubators exist in many industries. They involve bringing together an idea from the business owner, with a service and network provided by a company or entrepreneur who has relevant industry experience. This opportunity might also provide capital in exchange for a share of the business.
It’s a mentoring concept similar to the popular television programs Shark Tank in the US and Dragon’s Den in the UK, but without the fear factor. These places are chilled but knowledgeable and are where like-minded people can share ideas and grow skills.
What is a fashion accelerator?
The terms fashion incubator and fashion accelerator are mostly interchangeable. These companies are all about startups and understand what needs to happen to get a business off the ground. In these space you will be able to find low-cost workspace to rent, mentoring and guidance as well as the chance to network with many like-minded individuals.
Being mainly for profit style companies you will be asked to make a commitment to the program in exchange for a fee or equity depending on your situation. Those seeking help are asked to commit to a contract period for something between six months to two years in order for everyone to gain from the program. Seen as the centre of innovation these hubs are popping up all over the world with strong programs in many countries.
An example is LVMH which has bases in London and Paris. They are seeking to provide business support to fifty new startups each year in their business accelerator in Paris at the Station F incubator centre. The concept is scalable and replicable which is why it is so popular.
What do they provide startups?
In short, fashion incubators and accelerators enable individuals to share skills and expertise to develop further. For example, your talents in design are going to be vital to ensuring that your business thrives. However, understanding the business world is also critical if you want to get your voice heard.
Mentors who understand the current digital age of marketing and newer technology such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence can guide and teach you as you navigate your idea from drawing board to the point of sale. In fashion, augmented reality is transforming how customers can view and virtually try on your garments, so this is one new tool you do not want to miss out on learning about.
In the incubator, you will meet business people who know how to get you up and running. You will be able to work collaboratively while each having your own space. You’ll also learn how to find manufacturers and how to market your product and everything in-between.
The carrot for these startups is also the chance to work in a low-cost studio space, and the chance to network and make new business partnerships, so it is becoming an increasingly popular idea. With fashion being a strong industry, the rise in fashion specific incubators has rocketed. So this is a great time to turn your ideas into reality or grow your small business to new heights.
How to join one and where to find them?
In order to join you will typically have to wait for an intake opportunity and apply. This gives you the chance to prepare well so that your application is considered. You want to make your application as strong as possible in order to secure your space. Some fashion incubators are funded by the government so you should be able to find details from your local business support section.
Searching online is one of the best ways to find an incubator that might well fit your business needs. If you really cannot see a fashion incubator in your area or are not successful with your application, you can broaden the search to general business incubators. More of these companies are popping up all the time so there should be something in your area.
The power of shared thinking cannot be underestimated and going it alone is akin to trying to reinvent the wheel. It could be the perfect time to consider how a fashion incubator could help your business thrive, so do some research on sites such as Fashion Enterprise and see what’s on offer.