Target's Techstars program has culminated with Demo Day, a startup pitch session that had participants present their solutions to the retailer.
Techstars is an accelerator program launched in October to create new mobile technology.
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"Target’s a $70 billion company with a long legacy for great design and innovation. But as our industry changes, as more and more consumers demand total integrating between physical and digital experiences, we need to change, too," said Target CEO Brian Cornell.
"We’re smart enough to know that all the answers do not lie within our four walls," said Cornell. "We need entrepreneurs developing new and innovative products and solutions that have the potential to create new paths for growth, diversify our business model and transform every facet of industry – from supply chain to operations to marketing."
Not all participants are working on technology that has a direct correlation to retail or stores. One such example is Revolar, whose founder Jacqueline Ros is working to develop a solution to help reduce assaults on women.
In fact, shifting focus away from Target's needs was one of the biggest takeaways for the retailer from the accelerator program.
"The most important lesson is that we weren't always asking the right question," said Cornell. "Teams would start by asking 'Is this right for Target?' instead of 'Is this idea right for the world?' and then figuring out how to build it, together."
The partnership is, of course, mutually beneficial. "Target opens doors to capital, to consumers and scale," said Cornell. "We have world-class talent and expertise, and of course, millions and millions of customers who shop our stores and our site every day."
Of the 10 Techstars participants, some will move on to the pilot phase and ultimately some will relocate to Minneapolis to work at Target headquarters.