Mentoring programs and related activities are a crucial step of the Acceleration Program offered by FTA.
“Yeah, but why is that?”, you may be thinking. If you want an answer to this understandable question, go have a look at our previous blog post on the topic!
Over the years, we have come across many brilliant startups, along with their wonderful teams. We have met a lot of inspiring entrepreneurs, who have made the fashion industry smarter, richer, as well more sustainable.
But none of them could have attained their business goals without the help of experienced individuals, who have provided their guidance and shared their knowledge to give these newborn businesses a true chance of succeeding. All in all, this is the gist of mentoring.
However, nothing can convince you about the effectiveness of this instrument as outspoken evidence. This is why we have talked to some of our great mentors, gathering on-point insights from the startup teams with whom they have been associated.
The following 3 startups, with “their” mentors, represent a powerful demonstration of the universal truth that “united we stand, divided we fall”. So, let’s now have a look at some of the successful mentoring matches we have seen so far at FTA!
During each Acceleration Program, one or more of our dedicated mentors is usually matched with a company, to help and advise on specific topics and needs of the startup. That’s exactly what happened when Rossella Rinaldi, a seasoned marketer with years of global experience in Fashion and Luxury, met our portfolio company Drip.
“I consider the main point of strength of this mentoring experience with Drip’s team the fact that we explore different pathways of doing things while testing each other’s ideas. I’ve started to see this team as a “Meccano game”, where I need someone to hold my piece of the structure to come up with the final sculpture as neither of us will be able to complete it entirely by ourselves.
I consider the contamination of ideas a critical point of success for mentors’ and mentees’ personal growth alike. In this regard, the interesting thing about my experience throughout the mentoring process is that I’ve learnt that I don’t create anything or know what way to go until I clarify what is the “space” that the team’s idea is going to inhabit.
Indeed, the moment I circumscribe a frame around a specific issue, the first thing I want and can do is to start breaking out the edge of it. I think that only in this way real innovation can take place by exploring unexpected pathways.
The more I practice the realisation of my ideas within a team, the more I begin to self-reflect on the process and practice itself. I’ve begun asking myself how I can engage effectively with the team, what relevance has this work to me and what value I can bring to the table.
Also, asking what would support or counterpoint the team’s activities is fundamental to determine the direction of my mentoring, too. In a way, it’s similar to being planning and delivering a fashion show as there are many parts involved in revealing something nobody has seen before while following a consistent and relevant narrative.”R. Rinaldi, Fashion Business Consultant
On the other hand, also according to Drip’s CEO, Luca Panetta, the experience has been indeed fruitful on both sides of the table. In Luca’s own words:
“From the very first conversation, Rossella’s passionate and dedicated approach gave us immediately some great vibes. After learning about her experiences and competencies, we met often to give her updates on both broad and specific themes.
She gave us valuable insights and materials on day-to-day operations, process performance management, organizational management, team vision and strategy, risk assessment, merchandising and buying strategy. The amount of time she has spent listening to us, reviewing our docs and collecting papers and articles has been very consistent. We felt like she was very glad when we told her that things were going well for the company. She was like part of the team. More than a simple mentor, a true friend and supporter.
If the human side and building up trust within the team and the mentor is possibly the first step to make a program happen correctly, nonetheless a very focused delivery of assets and advice is essential for success, as Luca fluently pointed out.
“(…) To this day, we are applying her effective “plug-and-play” solutions in terms of risk assessment and evaluation. Before talking to her, we weren’t experienced in this area and barely worked on it. Moreover, she also suggested we write down a “Team Charter ”: an extremely important document that can really make the difference in terms of vision, commitment and alignment of a team.
Also very importantly, she sent to us extensive material regarding Process Performance indicators, enabling us to implement effective measurement of our complex process flows. Finally, she provided great support in our merchandising strategy and operations. In particular, she helped us to set the basis for the upcoming buying tranches, for the evaluation and monitoring of items’ fair value, the metric and parameters to take into consideration for the stock turnover activities.”L. Panetta, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of Drip Rent
Our own senior team is also a tremendous resource for many startups when it comes to mentoring and consulting duties. That’s exactly the case with LB9 Brand, as Joe Amoruso kindly explained when interviewed to describe his own experience with our mentoring program, as part of the Acceleration Program.
“When you are deep in the day to day of your startup storm it is always super refreshing & sometimes a lifesaver to have an outside point of view. This is exactly what we received from the mentoring sessions by the FTA team, especially Marco Filocamo and Francesco Fiume, who guided us through the restructuring and fine tuning of our e-commerce.
Being able to take advantage of their multiple years of experience is priceless and we were able to solve certain problems that we had been struggling with for months in just a couple of weeks.
J. Amoruso, Chief Marketing Officer & Co-Founder, LB9 Brand
Another important aspect was the exchange of opinions and ideas with professionals that didn’t have ulterior motives aside from trying to support our business and provide feedback as much as possible. This was fundamental when we were trying to understand what was really crucial to our growth. Having that second, third, fourth opinion really helped us build and clarify our strategy“.
Pardon the wordplay, but this mentoring program and related case just is an incredible example of how deep a simple business connection can get, when executed with passion and competence. That’s what happened when seasoned strategist in FP&A such as Nicolò Pecchi got in touch with Roussel Ngo from Miss Luxury Hair, to discuss fundraising and business growth.
“Mr Pecchi’s expertise has been very relevant, in the stage of business in which we are now. Helping us to plan the next phases, with a conscious and strategic vision, for moving the first steps in the world of retail. He supported us in improving our business and financial model, with the aim of presenting the company to possible other investors, making our pitch deck even more effective.
Overall it was a truly motivating experience that we recommend to all start-ups’ co-founders.
It has been like Mr Pecchi was one of us, he has perfectly stepped into our shoes, contributing to our development with almost our own energy. We are still in touch, it will be always inspiring to us to be able to discuss with him, he is always very helpful.“R. Ngo Mbelek Nloh, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, MLH
On his side, Nicolò has been as nice as usual, getting straight to the point of a perfectly executed mentoring.
Mentoring is a privilege and an amazing opportunity for me to give back to the Italian startup ecosystem.
“I am humbled to support world-class founders within Fashion Technology Accelerator, focusing on getting them ready to fundraise. As per MLH’s own case, I tried to have their attention on the major aspects of crafting the correct narrative in their pitch decks, as well as building a proper operating financial model, to reflect the real value of the company.”N. Pecchi, Senior Director Finance & Strategy, Amplify
Go have a look at our 6-month Acceleration Program. We will give you access to 150+ selected mentors, who will share with you their vast knowledge of the Fashion Industry and will help you achieve your business goals.
Don’t be shy, we are waiting for you! If you are eager to share your experience and knowledge with entrepreneurs and startuppers while getting to know about the new trends in the industry before everyone else, join our Mentorship Program. You will meet many enthusiastic people who will further increase your passion for what you do every day, boosting your skills and resume!
Francesco Fiume is Head of Marketing Communications and Digital of Fashion Technology Accelerator.
He manages brand and digital marketing strategies for companies in the Acceleration Program. Francesco also offers his expertise in our Consulting Sessions and is the reference point for FTA’s own brand and corporate marketing activities.