Target on Wednesday said it will partner with Techstars, a global ecosystem of mentors and founders that helps entrepreneurs build businesses, to create a new retail accelerator that will launch next year in Minneapolis. Techstars and Target will put out a call for applications later this year to tech-based start-ups in the retail space; Target is looking for fledgling companies involved with everything from supply chain to data analytics to new ways of integrating digital and in-store experiences.
“We know that technology will continue to revolutionize retail, and that Target’s future will be built on innovation,” said Casey Carl, Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer.
Techstars has a good track record. Of a total 660 companies and $1.81 billion in funding, 89 percent are active or have been acquired, with a total market cap of $4.4 billion, according to Techstars. Average funding per company, Techstars said, is $3 million. There are 17 Techstars programs, each with its own investors, talent and community. The NYC start-up ecosystem, for example, boasts success stories such as Plated and Jukely, while Chicago’s mentors include the founders of GrubHub, Groupon, Orbitz and OpenTable.
Startups that are accepted into the program will be offered investment capital, along with support from Target executives, plus access to Techstars’ network of successful entrepreneurs, investors and other partners.
Target last year launched an accelerator program in Bangalore, home of Target India. Since Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India, Target wanted to mine the tech capital for big ideas. The Accelerator program was a four-month incubator for fledgling tech companies, which were charged with bringing innovative ideas to Target across five areas: search, content, data, social and mobile.
From the hundreds of start-ups that applied to the program, five were chosen and given the opportunity to develop their ideas at Target’s Bangalore office with access to mentors, tools, resources and operational support. The start-ups ranged from new technology for 3-D images for online catalogues, social customer relationship management solutions, mobile user engagement, search solutions for e-commerce and a social widget for e-commerce.