MARKS & SPENCER AND FOUNDERS FACTORY INVEST IN 3D DIGITAL FIT COMPANY
Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Founders Factory have today announced a third startup selected for its retail accelerator programme under their joint venture (JV) Founders Factory Retail. Texel, a 3D digital fit company was sourced through Founders Factory’s global network, backed by M&S.
The investment in Texel is part of the retailer’s joint venture (JV) with Founders Factory which enables startups to grow at pace using the company’s experts in design, computer engineering, AI, data science and strategy.
Texel’s technology scans capture and measure people in 3D, creating a digital avatar of the user. It then uses its technology to recommend clothes that will best fit the user’s shape and size.
Texel will complement Optitex which M&S’s design and technology team use to create patterns that are then rendered in 3D to visualise what a garment will look like on an avatar or mannequin without a piece of cloth being cut or sewn.
Paschal Little, Head of Clothing & Home Technology at M&S, said: “Texel’s technology opens up many exciting routes for us. Retail is changing and changing faster than ever before. Investing in businesses like Texel puts us at the sharp end of that change and gives us the tools to test and trial new ways to inspire our customers.”
Sergey Klimentyev Texel Inc co-founder said: “Texel is building products designed to simplify, personalise and enrich the offline and online shopping experience and helps to reduce online returns and increase conversion.”
Founder’s Factory Retail will spend six months working with Texel which it will seek to grow and scale. Texel is the third startup M&S has selected for their retail programme along with ChargedUp, a mobile phone battery sharing service and Rocketo, a healthy subscription dog food service.
Isabela Chick, Managing Director of Retail, Founders Factory: "The breadth of the businesses backed by M&S so far - from solving the challenge of on-the-go mobile phone charging (ChargedUp) to improving the way we feed our pets (Rocketo) - is testament to M&S's commitment to partnering with startups across all their business units to transform their offer to their customers, and we will see benefits to the startups and to M&S through these collaborations.”
These investments are in addition to M&S’s strategic partnership with Microsoft, which is testing the capabilities of technology and artificial intelligence in a retail environment.
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Notes to Editors:
Texel enables customers to create a digital avatar of themselves via high-precision 3D capture, to find the best fitting clothes via its body scanners and easy to use mobile app.
The company helps retailers to provide a personalised fit score and size recommendations to its customers to reduce return rates and increase conversion.
Using its own dataset and machine learning Texel has developed a patent pending solution to create a photorealistic digital avatar for customers using a single RGBD camera to be used in offline shops. The recommendation engine takes into account 100+ body measurements, body shape and customer style preferences. Texel owns one of the world’s largest databases of colour body scans (90,000+) scanning a new customer on average every 10 minutes.
Texel has produced two versions of the body scanners Portal BX, Portal MX. The scanners operate in 11 countries.
Texel is involved in the development of an international standard for human body 3D models within the apparel industry in association with IEEE Standards Association  and has been listed as one of the world’s leading body scanners by ANIWAA, a global, independent technology reviewing site.
Rocketo helps dogs become healthier and stronger by offering them raw, organic and low-carb food. Currently only available online as a subscription service, dog owners order food based on the size and breed of their dog(s).
Production is environmentally responsible, using 3-4times less space in transit and manufactured using 100% solar energy. Rocketo is also the only dog food in the market which labels its carbohydrate content which as food too high in starch or refined carbohydrates is believed to cause health problems in dogs.
About Founders Factory
Founders Factory is the world’s best partner for founders. Started by Brent Hoberman and Henry Lane Fox, Founders Factory has received investment from Marks & Spencer, L’Oreal, easyJet, Guardian Media Group, Aviva, Holtzbrinck and CSC.
Combined with its full-time team of 70 specialists it provides founders with the best platform to launch or scale their start-up.
Founders Factory creates 13 new startups every year. They validate ideas, build founding teams, find first customers and invest directly in each start-up. Its accelerator invests in 35 startups every year.
Founders Factory invests cash, six months of bespoke support from our team and provides commercial opportunities with its corporate investors.
To date Founders Factory has backed and built over 90 companies and will reach over 200 within five years. Founders Factory has secured over 60 pilots for its startups with its corporate partners. Crucially over 30% of those pilots have led to enterprise contracts and a further five to direct investments.
Making M&S Special
In November 2017 Marks & Spencer set out a transformation programme for the business concentrating on Restoring the Basics, Shaping the Future and Making M&S Special.
Under this transformation programme, Making M&S Special, M&S has to date announced:
- A slowdown in the Simply Food store opening programme
- An acceleration of the UK store estate closure programme
- The sale and franchise of its retail business in Hong Kong and Macau
- A new Technology Transformation Programme
- Improvements to its Clothing & Home Logistics Network
- The restructure of the Customer, Marketing & Digital Team
- New customer insight partnership with Starcount
- The appointment of a new Food Managing Director
- The merging of its Retail & Propertyfunctions
- A New leadership team responsible for overhauling Clothing & Home business
- The announcementof the start of a programme to create a family of businesses under the M&S brand
- The appointmentof two new Non-Executive Directors to its Board
- A strategic partnership with Microsoft focused on transforming the retail experience
- A new strategic partnership with Octopus to supply energy and services under the M&S Energy brand
- The launch of Founders Factory Retail, a JV focused on investing in start-ups
- The creation of a Retail Data Academy with Decoded to upskill over 1000 colleagues
- A partnership with True to gain access to the latest enterprise-ready technologies and innovations
People & Structure Changes
Since Steve Rowe became CEO in April 2016, M&S has set about streamlining and changing its operational and leadership structure. The Clothing & Home and Food businesses have been established as two separate business units, each with full P&L accountabilities, and independently managed.
Additionally, the senior leadership team has been strengthened by reducing in number and fully empowering its Operating Committee, and a number of senior hires, including:
- David Guise, HR Director, appointed October 2016
- Mel Smith, Strategy Director, appointed May 2017
- Jill McDonald, Clothing & Home MD, appointed October 2017
- Victoria Self, Digital Director, appointed January 2018
- Sharry Cramond, Food Marketing Director, appointed January 2018
- Lawrence Christensen, Independent Advisor on Supply Chain, appointed March 2018
- Julian Richer, Independent Advisor on Culture Change, appointed March 2018
- Stuart Machin, Food MD, appointed April 2018
- Wes Taylor, Menswear Director, appointed May 2018
- Neil Adams, Food Transformation Director, appointed May 2018
- Jill Stanton, Womenswear & Kidswear Director, appointed July 2018
- Humphrey Singer, CFO, appointed July 2018
- Nick Hewitt, Director of Finance, Food, appointed August 2018
- Kirsty Ward, Director of M&S Bank and Services, appointed September 2018
- Jeremy Pee, Chief Digital & Data Officer, appointed September 2018