Target and Techstars boost Minnesota’s innovation quotient

The inaugural cohort of 10 startups will be in the Twin Cities this summer at the new Minneapolis "retail accelerator" program

By Brian Martucci
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Target and Kansas City-based Techstars are teaming up to bring 10 promising startups to the Twin Cities this summer for a 3-month deep dive into high-tech retail. They’ll be the inaugural cohort — and hopefully not guinea pigs — at the brand new Minneapolis “retail accelerator” helmed by venture capital veteran Ryan Broshar and Target vice president of internal operations and innovation West Stringfellow (both Minnesota Business (Real) Power 50 members).

Last year, Target and Techstars put out a “call…to tech-based startups with a vision for impacting retail — from supply chain to data analytics to new ways to integrate digital and in-store experiences,” according to a September 2015 blog post. They held recruiting events in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, New York City and Minneapolis, and met in person with more than 250 startup teams.

In an update earlier this month, Target reported receiving formal applications from more than 500 startups and entrepreneurs representing 45 countries and 32 states. Their ideas ran the gamut: virtual fitting rooms, web-connected toys and more. Anything that could shake up the retail industry was fair game.

It’s now up to Broshar and Stringfellow to narrow down the applicant pool to 10 worthy finalists, who’ll share space in an 8,000 square foot innovation den currently under construction in Minneapolis.

The accelerator begins in June and runs through the summer, with a demo day planned for early September. According to Target, the startups will “be provided with invaluable resources and guidance from mentors like chief strategy and innovation officer Casey Carlpresident of and mobile Jason Goldberger and more.”

Broshar is particularly excited about the new partnership between Minnesota’s top retail icon (sorry, Best Buy) and one of the country’s most successful startup accelerators. “I’ve seen firsthand how Techstars can be a force for good in the cities it operates in and I’m excited to bring it back home to Minneapolis,” he said in a blog post last year.

Infographic courtesy of Target + Techstars