Founded on the principle of giving back to the ecosystem, the Target Accelerator Program will help these eight Indian startups validate and mature their product to increase customer traction
Target India on Wednesday announced the fifth batch – the largest cohort yet – of its Accelerator Program. Eight startups were selected for the four-month long-programme that will help develop innovative technology solutions.
Rakesh Mishra, Vice President of Marketing for Target and the accelerator programme’s executive sponsor, said: “This batch is focused on computer vision, artificial intelligence, digital experiences, machine learning, analytics and natural language processing. All these are key to offering a unique experience for our guests.”
The Target Accelerator Program was launched in December 2013 and 22 startups have already graduated in four batches till now. Startups are trained to refine their technology offerings and solutions to enhance retail experiences at Target and in the wider retail industry.
During the course of acceleration, Target helps startups with customisation, giving them access to over 1,800 of its retail stores in the US, allowing them to develop, scale, and test their products.
“Retail as a business is so much about fundamentals; it is an end-to-end experience. We are providing these startups a better understanding of the different nuances of retail: necessary space, mentoring, leadership guidance, technology, infrastructure and a huge customer base,” Rakesh says.
He adds, “The team screened 1,000 startups at various conferences and seminars before zeroing in on the best eight to make it a win-win situation for all. The ones we have, their core fits beautifully with ours.”
Here are the eight startups that Target chose and why:
Like something on social media and want to immediately buy it? Here is how you can. Jumper.ai makes images and posts on social media “shoppable” through hashtags. A unique hashtag is generated for a product post. An interested user can comment on the post with the hashtag, and s/he is automatically guided to checkout by a conversational bot. The capability is available across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. The deal will be sealed in a minute, the startup team claimed at the announcement launch.
Bought a shirt and don’t know what trousers would go with it? Here’s help. Tech company Streamoid is building an intelligent platform for fashion, o enhance a guest’s shopping experience online. These include “Complete the look” recommendations that suggest complementary products to go with the current selection and a visual search of similar products.
vPhrase helps enterprises understand data better by explaining insights in words using artificial intelligence. It essentially converts analytics in form graphs and charts to simple text. The company’s patent-pending platform, Phrazor, analyses data, derives insights and communicates those insights in words, in multiple languages. Phrazor embodies the expertise of the best analysts in finance and automates it.
Cogknit is a product innovation lab that builds business solutions using speech, computer vision and text machine learning. It has a digital learning product, which automates competency development using machine learning. It also offers #VoiceFirst solutions in Indic languages to automate workflows like payments in the BFSI space.
Rakesh says, “It is an inclusive solution and will help visually-challenged or hearing-impaired guests. The offering has the ability to contextualise the video frame-by-frame and deliver insights.”
Light Information Systems
It works as an AI workforce. A system where the machine processes any input, anytime, from anywhere, makes sense of it and responds to solve user problems. The Light Information Systems’ product, NLPBOTS, integrates with online products/services, web, intranet or mobile to give users an always available help feature via a chat-bot interface. The product semantically processes text and images, and is powered by deep learning algorithms that help it learn from user interactions. The system works with structured and unstructured data, and is capable of natural language understanding and generation. Customer care, human resource help and machine learning assistance are in the works.
Tired of waiting at checkout points for your groceries? Problem in identifying fresh produce? Hyperworks Imaging has domain expertise in agritech, machine learning and infrared spectroscopy. The team is using artificial intelligence, imaging and innovative product design to solve business pain points from farm-gate to retail stores. The team claimed to have solved the pilferage problem at POS counters. Rakesh says, “They are working in the space of leveraging computer vision to check the fresh produce. So an apple is an apple. But using computer vision they are able to find the exact variety and process a smooth and fast checkout.”
Want to know the exact wait time at that Starbucks outlet? Or the precise inventory in your warehouse? Cognitifai helps retrieve the exact information using cameras. Cognitifai is a video intelligence platform that uses computer vision to index physical world phenomena. The platform specialises in urban monitoring such as surveillance, healthcare and hyper-local intelligence discovery for smart cities and retail enterprises.
Moonraft Innovation Labs
A shopping assistant that helps you pre-order an outfit, keeps it ready in the trial room and also tells you about the accessories to go along with it. Moonraft is a design and innovation firm working towards advancing human experiences across the digital and physical. They have experience in creating an AI-powered shopping assistant for trial rooms.
Along with the teams mentioned above, a team from Target’s internal employees will be a part of the cohort. Pal’s Prompt is a social media-enabled shopping experience, where the user can make a buy based on a peer’s usage, share and review. Pal’s Prompt is an affiliate marketing solution for Facebook.
Two of the Indian startups that graduated earlier (Find Me A Shoe and StoryXpress) are receiving training under the Target+Techstars Retail Accelerator in the US. This is a three-month program at the Target headquarters in Minneapolis.
At the end of the programme, teams are given an opportunity to pitch their idea and demonstrate their product to prominent technology investors and leaders.
Selecting and mentoring tech startups is a regular occurrence these days. Kyron Global Accelerator, Microsoft, Khosla Labs, Google’s Launchpad Accelerator, NUMA Accelerator and Oracle Cloud are among the companies with programs that select, accelerate and mentor technology startups in India.