Target Wednesday announced that it has chosen 10 companies to participate in its Target + Techstars retail accelerator program.
Winners include companies offering a variety of DIY and tech kits for customers, machine learning technology, crime-fighting wearables, supple-chain solutions, employee scheduling solutions, and other innovations, according to a Target blog post.
Last month Target said that more than 500 companies from 45 countries had applied to the program, which includes a 14-week residency at the company’s headquarters, mentoring, and a $20,000 capital infusion.
Ryan Broshar, the Minneapolis startup guru behind Matchstick Ventures, Beta.MN and the Twin Cities Startup Week, and West Stringfellow, vice president of internal innovation and operations, picked the winning entrants. Mentors include Casey Carl, Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer, Jason Goldberger, senior vice president of Target.com and mobile, and CEO Brian Cornell.
The startups in the accelerator will receive $20,000 in funding from Boulder, CO-based Techstars for a 6% share in their companies, plus the opportunity to get an additional $100,000.
“We received twice as many applications as a typical Techstars accelerators. It really blew us away,” Stringfellow said in the blog post. “Having worked in and with startups for most of my career, I am stoked to see the energy transfer between Target and the startups: Target empowering the startups with our expertise and the startups infusing their passion, energy and focus into Target.”
Stringfellow joined Target last year as an “entrepreneur in residence,” and was quickly promoted to his current position. Among his projects at Target is a mysterious one, code-named “Goldfish,” that could eventually fold into corporate operations or spin off as separate entities.
His presence is just one aspect of Target’s tech focus. Already one of America’s most tech-forward retailers, Target has some 60 employees in its Silicon Valley offices, and will relocate several from Minneapolis to work there on Goldfish. The company also maintains an innovation lab in Boston to concentrate on food technology in partnership with the MIT Media Lab and design firm Ideo.
Target, of course, is not alone in its retail-focused tech pursuits. The likes of Home Depot, Nordstrom, Sears, Wal-Mart and Zappos have established their own laboratories in the nation’s big tech corridors, dedicated to advancing retail technology.