Techstars & Target, the US “upscale discount retailer” with 1800 store are launching a retail tech accelerator at Targets’ headquarter in Minneapolis this summer. The Kickoff event for the recruiting of retail startups was held this week in NYC at the beautiful Rise co-working space, which is also home to the Techstars Fintech accelerator in collaboration with Barclays. For the retail accelerator a similar format to other Techstars programs will be taken on: About 10 companies will be chosen who then receive a $20k investment for 6% equity and extensive mentoring.
Target, whose mission statement includes “continuous innovation” has been an active pursuer in finding ways to enhance the customer journey, combining the digital and physical experience. The accelerator is just one of many initiatives following a shift to a ‘portfolio’ approach to innovation. For example, Target’s IOT innovation team is based in San Francisco, developed the San Francisco based concept store ‘open house.’ IOT devices were presented in an almost museum like setting and showcased their interaction with each other in the home.
Other parts of the innovation team are based in the Minneapolis HQ and has come up with some interesting innovations as well:
- In December Target opened Target Wonderland in New York – An experiential pop-up store where customers shopped with RFID tags, paid at the checkout and waited by the fireplace for the items as they came down the chimney.
- Target curbside: allows consumers to shop directly from phones and pick up right in front of the store without having to find items on shelves, wait in checkout or park their cars. The Curbside service is free, the app is free and the company does not markup store prices. It is now available at Target stores in the San Francisco, LA, NYC, New Jersey, Chicago and Philadelphia
- The innovation team also launched a partnership with MIT and global design firm IDEO that will focus on the future of food, looking at everything from urban farming to supply chain and food transparency.
Target & Techstars will place a focus on the team, more so than the amount of traction when reviewing applications. Diversity is a key factor and the company explicitly encouraged people from all backgrounds to apply.