Meet the Startups About to Take Their Businesses to the Next Level with Target’s Accelerator Programs

May 6, 2019 - Article reads in
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Participants and mentors sit in a circle of chairs inside a Target event space

How do retail’s newest and most innovative players take their businesses to the next level? For many, the journey accelerates at the Bullseye.

Over the past three years, Target has been helping startup companies learn the ropes of retail through our growing portfolio of accelerator programming. That includes U.S.-based Target Takeoff, Target Incubator, the METRO Target Retail Accelerator, Certified by Techstars and the India-based Target Accelerator Program. Together, these programs provide a platform for discovering new ideas and bringing fresh thinking to our work.

Best of all, the programs benefit everyone involved. Working with startups gives Target the opportunity to consider testing outside innovations that might someday help us enhance our assortment and guest experiences. In exchange, the startups get access to many of our resources—including mentorship, expertise and programming to help them ultimately learn how to scale their business to reach mass retail.

So what’s it like being part of a Target accelerator? Take a look at two of our programs currently in progress.

The Target Incubator logo, which is a red bullseye next to black text Incubator against a white background

Target Incubator

Target’s latest accelerator program, Target Incubator, is focused on helping the next generation of entrepreneurs further develop their businesses. Back in October, we put out a call for applicants, looking for young people with aspirations to make the world a better place with “better for people” or “better for the planet” business ideas. 

That program is underway now with eight selected companies: Blue Mangoes, Dressmate, KnoNap, Mickey’s Mission, Pulp Pantry, Symba, Terravive and Trill Project. Click on the gallery below to learn more about each company.


Participants are currently taking part in virtual programming this spring, with our accelerator team checking in regularly to help them prepare for the summer program. In mid-June, they will relocate to our Minneapolis HQ for an eight-week course to learn all about the world of retail from the inside out.

Throughout the program, participants will have opportunities to network with like-minded entrepreneurs and develop skills in negotiations, branding, pitching and more. They’ll also get exclusive access to Target’s resources and mentors to help them as they grow their business. At a Demo Day event the week of Aug. 1, the companies will showcase their final pitches in front of Target and industry business leaders.

Target Incubator is just one of the many ways we stay connected with the next generation of our guests. We listened to their feedback and ideas as we created some of our newest owned brands designed with Gen Z in mind—including the trend-forward apparel and accessories in Wild Fable and Original Use, and the stylish and affordable electronics and tech accessories for Heyday.

The METRO Target logo, which is a black METRO M next to a black bullseye with a vertical line in between, against a white background

The METRO Target Retail Accelerator, Certified by Techstars

Since its debut in 2016, nearly 30 U.S. startups have taken part in our retail tech program in partnership with Techstars—and many have gone on to bring their products and services to market through tests and pilots at Target.

Back in December, we announced that the latest installment was going global, as Target teamed up with German retailer METRO AG—one of the world’s largest wholesalers and food specialists—on a program to engage with a new group of stage-agnostic startups from around the world.

That program kicks off this week with nine founders of retail-focused startups: Afresh Technologies, LISNR, Perksy, Sezzle, Shelfbucks, CB4, Einride, IDEE GmbH and UntieNots. Click on the gallery below to learn more about each company.


Target and METRO selected startups based on alignment to strategic initiatives at one or both companies. They will embark on a three-month immersion focused on business development efforts, mentoring and applying an international lens to their business with the Target and METRO teams.

The program begins this week at METRO’s accelerator headquarters in Berlin, where they’ll spend time with leaders and mentors getting to know METRO’s business. At the end of May, they’ll move to Target’s Minneapolis HQ for several weeks, where they’ll tour Target stores and facilities, meet leaders and mentors, and take part in workshops on the competitive retail landscape, strategies for working with large retail partners, and more. Finally, participants will relocate to one of the two cities mid-July for a few more weeks to continue conversations with Target and METRO business units.

For the big finale, each participating company will get to pitch their business to Target, METRO and Techstars leadership, as well as the local startup community and potential investors at a Demo Day in Minneapolis on Aug. 8.

Stay tuned for more news about Target’s accelerator portfolio as programming gets underway this summer.

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