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Asos Launches an Accelerator Program for E-Commerce Startups

Asos shoes make an appearance at Paris Fashion Week in February. Photo: Kirsten Sinclair/Getty Images
Asos shoes make an appearance at Paris Fashion Week in February. Photo: Kirsten Sinclair/Getty Images

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Sitting pretty as one of the UK's brightest fashion e-commerce sites, Asos is hoping to help other players in the space. It's launching a startup accelerator.

The companies selected will receive a whole slew of benefits: funding, eight months of "intensive" mentoring, office space. But if all goes well, everyday Asos shoppers will feel the effects of this venture, too. That's because the retailer is specifically looking for startups developing technology that can improve its own business. That could mean enhancing Asos's search capabilities, for instance, or refining its order fulfillment, customer rewards, or mobile experience.

It's a theoretical win-win-win. (Except for 3D printing companies and fashion brands, Asos isn't considering those for the program.)

Asos isn't the only retailer to go this route. Earlier this year, Sephora announced the creation of its own accelerator program, and like Asos, it set tight parameters for what type of startups could apply — they had to be beauty-oriented, female-led, and socially-minded. (That could involve donating a portion of proceeds to a charity, or focusing on sustainability.) Of course, the Council of Fashion Designers of America has endeavored to give young brands a boost for years now, offering them funding, mentoring, studio space, and (most recently) retail space through programs like its Fashion Incubator, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, and its new Retail Lab.

Asos, which will operate the program in conjunction with the Telefónica-owned accelerator Wayra UK, is taking applications through May 23 and planning to select program participants by June.