Target is bringing back its retail accelerator program for a second round.
On the heels of the first Target + Techstars retail accelerator, the retailer said it has 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,” the company said in a blog on its website.
In its posting, Target detailed the progress of some of the program’s start-ups, and said it has just made an initial investment in Inspectorio, a company dedicated to quality inspections for textiles and consumer goods in Asia and South America.
In addition, Target just rolled out a 130-store pilot at its stores nationwide for the shift-scheduling and communications app for hourly workers, Branch, which conducted a 10-store pilot in September.
"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."
In addition to continuing the Techstars program, Target plans to develop and run several new accelerators, including with its Internet of Things (IoT) team.
“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.
Target and Techstars will announce the selected startups in July and host a final demo day at the 14-week program’s close in October.