How the seventh cohort of the Target Accelerator Program is solving global challenges in the retail space
In August 2019, Target announced the launch of the seventh cohort of its Target Accelerator Program (TAP) with 10 startups working on retail-focused services and products. The cohort graduated with a Demo Day recently, where the startups participated in a round of speed-dating with potential investors and presented their solutions to investors and business leaders from Target.
Delivering the welcome address, Tammy Redpath, SVP & President, Target in India, said, “As I think about this cohort, I see that we are getting better and better. We are building deeper relationships within the ecosystem, we’re discovering fresh thinking and inspiring ideas from startups. Along with the startups’ progress, we’re also seeing a lot happening at the Target Accelerator Program itself. We’re working with partners across the world and solving business problems in retail, not just for Target but also for the industry.”
The cohort expanded into diverse business areas, with startups focused on marketing, communications, sustainability, supply chain and tech. Startups developed and refined solutions for new scenarios in global retail using emerging technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), among others. They applied these technologies to address a number of challenges – for example, predicting fashion trends to prevent wastage of manufactured clothing or automating waste segregation and up-cycling this waste into new products. Then there’s a solution that automates product photography so consumers can understand the size of a product when shopping online. Another decodes consumers’ emotional behaviour using AI.
“This demonstrates the tremendous commitment we have to think about our retail business at large,” Tammy explained, before inviting the startups to speak to the audience about their solutions.
The evening also featured a fireside chat with Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital who spoke about the evolving startup ecosystem and a performance by Bengaluru-based contemporary Carnatic progressive rock band Agam.
The 10 startups in the seventh cohort are:
Blubirch: Facilitates the buying and selling of returned, excess and pre-owned inventory through a B2B SaaS (software as a service) platform. The solution helps brands, distributors, exporters, and retailers manage and liquidate slow-moving, unsorted stocks, while enabling item-level tracking and singular insights.
Entropik Tech: Decodes consumer emotional behaviour using an artificial intelligence platform to measure the cognitive and emotional responses to product experiences. It allows brands to read a consumer’s emotions as they watch an ad, use a mobile app or experience a product live at a retail store.
Flixstock: Generates high-quality dynamic on-model product images for online fashion retailers at a fraction of the current cost and time. The solution eliminates the high production costs of outdoor shoots and a poor customer experience resulting from an inaccurate perception of the product.
Intello Labs: Grades and monitors the quality of agricultural commodities using computer vision and deep learning. It implements the right quality checks across the supply chain, ensuring the right grade reaches the right customer.
Kenscio: Enables automated, real-time, hyper-personalised emails at scale and across platforms, eliminating data silos on customer interactions. The tool also helps brands to communicate hyper-personalised messages and offers.
SprintAI: Powers intelligent fulfilment and smart inventory placement while optimising assortment/buying decisions for retail stores doubling as fulfilment centres. It uses data science and optimisation algorithms to support an omnichannel retail experience with efficient utilisation of resources.
Stylumia: Provides retail intelligence to forecast trends more accurately. The SaaS platform validates trends and demand prediction of pre- and in-season products. This also allows for the generation of winning design ideas. This reduces wastage and has a significant economic and environmental impact.
TrashCon: Automates waste-segregation of mixed waste into bio-waste and non-bio-waste, then re-uses both to create green fuel, oil and other products. This solution helps solve the challenge in India where most households don’t segregate their waste and municipal corporations refuse to recycle non-segregated waste.
Unifize: Drives guided conversations to eliminate ambiguity in business processes by providing a single view of communications across an organisation. The cloud-based mobile and desktop applications connect emails and other conversations to processes and data.
Unreal AI: Enables running highly optimised AI models on Edge devices. They offer a unique easily deployed security device that authenticates employees using facial recognition.