Rebecca Minkoff will launch a program to fund retail technology companies with venture capital firm Quotidian Ventures to identify new tech talent — a move aimed at nurturing the kind of startups and tech enterprises that enabled Minkoff to create the Rebecca Minkoff connected flagship stores in early 2015.
The announcement was made at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show during a panel discussion.
“We met [Quotidian Ventures] a couple years ago and were interested in working with [the] firm,” said Uri Minkoff, co-founder and CEO of Rebecca Minkoff. “We thought about how we could work together, how we could partner and create an outlet and opportunity for these emerging startups that have amazing technology and experience.”
Uri Minkoff said the brand was inspired by the influx of technology companies that began reaching out to it following the implementation of Rebecca Minkoff’s “store of the future” concept in 2014. The stores integrate smart dressing rooms and advanced mirrors from which consumers can request products and save items to their phones to later purchase online. In addition, the brand began offering self-checkout capability in brick-and-mortar locations at the end of 2016 to allow shoppers to streamline their retail experience.
“It’s really been a phenomenal experience for us the last two years,” Uri Minkoff said. “We’re looking forward to the [next] step.”
Uri Minkoff also announced plans for Rebecca Minkoff’s first investment in 42 Technologies, a data platform that works closely with fashion brands.
Rebecca Minkoff, who has been an outspoken advocate for female leadership, also said she hopes to use the VC fund as a way to leverage female entrepreneurs in STEM fields.
“There are not enough female engineers and coders working in the tech space to bring their user experience to the conversation when it comes to design,” Rebecca Minkoff said. “As females, we have different user experiences, and so the opportunity to invest in those that have a company that serves women by women is what excites me the most.”
Pedro Torres-Mackie, founder and managing director at Quotidian Ventures, said his firm is particularly interested in advancements in areas like virtual reality and wearables, and he anticipates a rapid growth in these two sectors in 2017 and beyond. In short, Torres-Mackie said the program will serve as a talent funnel to help identify companies and resources that would best benefit the Rebecca Minkoff brand and the retail industry at large.
“We’ve reached the point where a virtual augmented closet will be an inevitability, and the reason we’re here is to make it happen faster,” Torres-Mackie said.