The role of startups has never been more important to Target. On the heels of our successful first Target + Techstars retail accelerator, we opened applications for a second round of the program yesterday, inviting retail-specific tech startups worldwide to apply for a chance to relocate to Minneapolis and embed themselves at Target.
The lessons we learned last year were hard-won: More than 150 mentors offered 500+ hours of their time and expertise last year to mentor and help accelerate the startups in a brisk 14-week period. And results from our 2016 companies were significant.
Target just made an initial investment in Inspectorio, a company dedicated to quality inspections for textiles and consumer goods in Asia and South America, and are currently in the midst of two pilots together around footwear and apparel.
And retail forecasting and data analytics startup Nexosis, which secured $5 million in funding back in November, is now integrated with e-commerce platforms like Lightspeed, Magento and Shopify.
"The Target + Techstars accelerator experience was extremely powerful and beneficial for Nexosis,” said Ryan Sevey, CEO and Co-Founder, Nexosis. "The relationships we formed with the mentors greatly accelerated the company forward in multiple areas. Nexosis wouldn't be where it is today without the support received from Techstars and Target."
Then there’s the shift-scheduling and communications app created for hourly workers, Branch, which conducted a 10-store pilot in September and just rolled out a 130-store pilot at Target stores across the country.
"Our participation in the Target + Techstars accelerator program has been more beneficial to our growth than even our most optimistic expectations," said Atif Siddiqi, CEO, Branch. “The opportunity to leverage the Techstars network and Target’s remarkable support of our efforts within all levels of the company from the C-suite down to the store employees has been transformative for Branch. Target allowed us to test our platform in some of their stores, which has been extremely helpful with tailoring our offering for large enterprise retailers."
Momentum for our work with startups is building: In addition to continuing our Techstars program, we also plan to develop and run several new accelerators at Target, including those with our Internet of Things (IoT) team. We’re also going to keep investing in startups that tie to our business priorities and mentoring startups outside of those within our accelerator program.
“Our accelerator experience has only confirmed what we already knew: that working with startups is an important part of fueling innovation at Target, both when it comes to new ideas as well improving the way we work internally,” said Casey Carl, chief strategy and innovation officer, Target.
Learn more about the Target + Techstars retail accelerator experience from some of last year’s mentors and participants in the video below:
Interested in applying for a spot in the Target + Techstars retail accelerator class of 2017? Click here for more details. Target and Techstars will announce the selected startups this July and host a final demo day at the 14-week program’s close in October