XRC Labs has inked a deal with ThoughtWorks as its newest sponsor.
The New York-based accelerator is focused on helping start-ups focused in the retail and consumer goods sectors. ThoughtWorks joins XRC’s cofounding sponsors The New School’s Parsons School of Design and Kurt Salmon management consulting. Also participating as sponsors include Michael Kors, the National Retail Federation, Reebok and The TJX Cos. Inc., among others.
Robin Copland, ThoughtWorks’ vice president of retail, Americas, said his firm decided to partner with XRC after checking out other incubators in the space because “XRC Labs offers a real breadth and depth of mentorship…. We also liked their partnership with Parsons New School of Design and the fact that they’re bringing together a lot of really diverse, but very relevant, elements around today’s new retail model — the right retailers and a broad mix of thinkers, innovators and designers.”
Copland noted that an added benefit is that because XRC is curating some of the best minds in the space, ThoughWorks now has a “direct line of sight on emerging innovations in retail. We can get an early read on where the stickiness is for retailers.”
The accelerator in the summer completed its second 2016 Cohort Class. Participants include: logistics service firm OLAM, which aggregates mall-based purchases for consumer pickup at the mall; technology platform Savvy Society, which empowers young girls to design and wear 3-D printed fashion; e-commerce discovery and service firm ShopShops, which helps Chinese consumers and U.S. brands; mobile pop-up platform Valla Collection, which showcases emerging brands, and B2B apparel rental marketplace WearAway, targeting film, television, fashion and commercial productions.
Pano Anthos, managing director of XRC, said the accelerator holds two 10-week sessions each year. Anthos said the focus on tech and fashion in the retail and consumer goods space was a natural choice because the sector is a “massive spend at about $7 trillion globally. E-commerce is barely 10 percent of the market, and at the same time we haven’t changed the way we do retail and consumer goods in a hundred years…. Consumers want to shop a certain way and brands haven’t kept up.”
The accelerator is now accepting applications for its third accelerator program, which is set to run from Jan. 3 to April 10. In addition to offering coursework and workshops, the program includes mentoring and VC-prep sessions.
By Reveal, a hyper-curated retail concept model that makes it easier for consumers to find products they love, was a June accelerator participant and last month partnered with New York Fashion Week and Intel for a boutique at the lobby of Clarkson Square during NYFW. Each product was radio-frequency identification tagged to help designers learn faster and more relevant information about customer engagement. The start-up is now a venture-in-residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab.