Ahead of the Fashion
I’m back from San Francisco! You can check out my collection of photographs from the trip (San Fran Visuals). My main reason for flying out to SF was to attend the “Ahead of the Fashion”(AF) event that took place downtown. “Ahead of the Fashion” (AF) is a growth accelerating program for early stage technology start-ups in the consumer, fashion, and retail industries. AF recently launched a monthly event, where they select a group of fashion/tech founders, along with fashion designers, to pitch their companies in front of a notable panel and audience. As I mentioned in my San Fran post last week, it’s hard to find incubators and resources that are directly aligned with Merit. As a result, I was really excited to experience this event because it’s focused on combining fashion and tech.
Here’s how the event worked. The tech start-ups included the likes of Combatant Gentleman, Handbago and Solz. The fashion designers included the likes of Christopher Collins and Ragabond. The tech start-ups were given two minutes to pitch their companies, followed by a four minute Q&A, and lastly, four minutes of feedback. The fashion designers were given 4 minutes to showcase their upcoming fashion line, followed by four minutes of Q&A and four minutes of feedback. Both the tech start-ups and the fashion designers presented in front of an experienced panel, including the likes of Joan Barnes, the founder of Gymboree. All in all, Combatant Gentlemen took home first place along with Christopher Collins.
Not only did I get to meet some very cool people from some very cool companies (Circle Up, Yellow Leaf), but witnessing these pitches also boosted my confidence. As company after company presented, I was able to quickly identify points of strengths and points of weakness. And trust me, I know how difficult this process is as you are standing in front of hundreds of people with your business and potentially your own livelihood on the line. But I felt really good that the hours we have put in working on our pitch and investment materials, along with guidance from mentors, has taught us a lot. Or maybe it’s the amount of Shark Tank we watch.
The most consistent question posed throughout the night was, “What makes you different?” The panel asked almost every single entrepreneur that question. I guess we better know what makes us different. Leave me a comment answering that very question. What makes you or your business different?