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How Farfetch Plans to Bring More Tech to Luxury with Dream Assembly Accelerator

Burberry and venture capital firm 500 Startups will partner with Farfetch on the luxury technology platform’s inaugural Dream Assembly tech accelerator cohort, the companies announced on Friday. 500 Startups’ alumni include direct-to-consumer success stories such as Le Tote and Bombfell, both of which play in the fashion subscription-box category.

As many as 10 startups that join the accelerator based in Farfetch’s Lisbon headquarters stand to benefit from networking connections, one-on-one meetings with Farfetch executives, mentoring sessions on topics ranging from e-commerce and logistics to marketing, fashion and operations, and access to funding over the duration of the 12-week program.

The 500 Startups partnership developed as Farfetch searched for firms experienced in identifying and developing emerging early-stage tech innovators. “We were reaching out to a number of incubators and other industry partners to let them know about Dream Assembly. We’ve always believed in a partnership approach at Farfetch,” Stephanie Phair, Farfetch’s chief strategy officer, said. “Our conversations with 500 Startups progressed and we realized that they could offer a fantastic element to the Dream Assembly program, by hosting the startups that take part for ‘Marketing Hell Week.’”

The so-called “hell week” serves as a five-day Bay Area growth marketing bootcamp featuring notable growth hackers who show the venture capital firm’s seed-stage companies how to increase their reach. 500 Startups will offer a second week of sales and marketing strategy coaching in Lisbon.

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Given his experience launching Farfetch right as the Great Recession was getting underway, founder and CEO José Neves wants to “pay it forward” by offering emerging companies the same kind of assistance he received when getting the luxury platform off the ground.

“When I started Farfetch 10 years ago, we were a small startup. Back then, I needed exposure to boutiques, brands and customers to try my service, and I needed technology support and mentoring,” Neves said. “Farfetch Dream Assembly is dedicated to supporting the best entrepreneurs and teams to scale to the next level.”

Daniel Heaf, ‎senior vice president of digital commerce & digital marketing at Burberry, said the company is “delighted to deepen our relationship with Farfetch.” In February, the high-end British brand—known for its willingness to experiment with technology as well as its iconic trench coat and trademarked “Haymarket Check” plaid—made all of its inventory available on Farfetch, exposing its products to the platform’s shoppers in 150 countries around the globe. “We believe open innovation, collaboration and sharing our expertise with earlier-stage companies will encourage more creativity across the whole luxury sector,” Heaf said.

According to Phair, Neves coined the “Dream Assembly” name. “He says that the fashion industry is an industry of dreams, and assembly is a programming language so it’s a perfect marriage,” she added.

The Dream Assembly news­­ demonstrates Farfetch’s interest in pursuing new projects and opportunities ahead of a rumored IPO later this year that could value the 10-year-old company at $6 billion or greater.