Target wraps up its first tech accelerator program
Mimicking the reality TV show, “Shark Tank,” 11 “dreamers, doers and makers” on Sept. 20 delivered pitches in front of nearly 1,000 tech and retail experts at Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall as a conclusion to the first Target + Techstars Retail Accelerator program.
“In rapid-fire, five-minute sessions, each startup pitched their hearts out to sell venture capitalists and retail and tech influencers on their business — and their dream,” Target wrote on its blog.
More than 550 start-ups from 45 countries initially applied to be in the program that was supported by Techstars, which has run similar programs around the world.
In June, those applicants were narrowed down to 10, plus one in-house team. Over the ensuing 14-week program, the startups were advised by Target CEO Brian Cornell, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer Casey Carl, more than 30 other mentors from Target, as well as over 100 mentors from the Minneapolis and national tech scene. At the same time, the program was designed to encourage Target’s team to think more entrepreneurially and speed up decision making.
“We need entrepreneurs developing new and innovative products and solutions that have the potential to create new paths for growth, diversify our business model and transform every facet of industry — from supply chain to operations to marketing,” said Mr. Cornell. “At the same time, these companies need us, too. Target opens doors to capital, to consumers and scale.”
Target formed partnerships with several of the early-stage companies, including one focused on third-party factory inspections, an app enabling workers to speedily swap shifts, and one offering online browsers customized blueprints of their homes to assist in buying home furnishings. A few tech products will make it to selling floors.
The program, which will return in 2017 and 2018, is also designed to “invigorate the Minneapolis tech scene.” Deals were reached with other Minnesota companies, including Best Buy and Lifetime Fitness, and some startups are establishing offices in the Twin Cities.
Walmart and Galeries Lafayette have also revealed plans to launch similar accelerator programs.
- Demo Day for the Target + Techstars Retail Accelerator – Target
- Meet the Startups Picked to Be Part of Target’s First-Ever Accelerator – Target
- From San Francisco to Minneapolis…Notes from a Relocated Tech Entrepreneur – Target
- Perspectives: What Brian Cornell Learned Spending the Summer with Startups – Target
- Target’s first tech incubator with Techstars already hatching tangible results – Minneapolis Star Tribune (tiered sub.)
- Startups in Target’s Techstars accelerator race to finish line – Phys.org
- Walmart Lab 415-C Technology Innovation Open Call – Walmart
- Plug and Play partners with Galeries Lafayette Group to launch an accelerator dedicated to startups transforming retail and fashion – Galeries Lafayette
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What are the benefits and limits of tech accelerator competitions for retailers? How do they complement internal innovation centers and other efforts to explore new tech ideas?