10 Takeaways From The TechStars + Target Fireside Chat

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Target - Techstars AcceleratorBy Alex Rodriguez

The Techstars Retail Accelerator in Partnership with Target is ramping up for the inagural spring class. 

On Tuesday evening, Techstars Managing Director Ryan Broshar and Target Entrepreneur in Residence West Stringfellow met with a room full of enterpreneurs in downtown Minneapolis to engage and enlighten.

Here’s my takeaways from that:

  • The verticalized retail focus is on products, services and solutions that enhance the consumer experience, or “anything that can make a better connection to the customer.” Think IoT, ecommerce, mobile, and SaaS.
  • The stated selection criteria are: TEAM, TEAM,TEAM, progress and market.  The stronger your team is (Hustler, Hacker, Designer), the higher chance of acceptance. After having a strong team they’re looking for your progression. That could be a few customers, a prototype, or making some real revenue that the company is ready can accelerate to the next level.  And lastly they look at market size. They want to see how big is the market or is it a new market and can your company succeed in the space.
  • Applications are due by March 20; from there, 500-1,000 applications are paired down to 10 who will be in the Target space for 13 weeks, from June-August, followed by a Minneapolis demo day in September 2016.  But remember, the application is only the first part and expect 4-5 interview rounds afterward before being accepted.
  • It’s a $20k equity investment for 6% and optional 100k convertible debt note (up to 50% purchased by Target).
  • It’s not about the money. Mentor engagement/techstars global network pairs each venture with 5-6 “very aligned people.” ⅓ are Target mentors, ⅓ are TechStars Mentors, ⅓ are local tech community mentors.
  • TechStars also has a $150m venture fund associated with techstars for select follow on funding. “Within our ecosystem, you can do everything from idea to IPO,” said Broshar.  Building on that, Stringfellow suggested there is as much as a ~90% success rate to date across the Techstars network, having funded over 760 companies that have raised over $2b, with an estimated portfolio value over over $5b since 2007 inception.
  • The program works in 3 parts; 1st part is called ‘mentor madness’ where it starts with speed dating your mentors and eventually figuring out who the best matches are. 2nd month is more about your product and working with mentors to get the product built or improving it (depending on what stage you’re at). 3rd is focused on pitching, demo day and fund raising. You’ll be preparing for demo day (which a day that all startups present their companies to a room full of investors, founders, companies and media).
  • Stringfellow says that the startups that will succeed the most are the ones who put in the most work and take advantage of the resources as much as possible. They’re tenacious, exploitative of the opportunity, and highly coachable.
  • Target may identify and assemble not one, but two teams, on top of the 10, to organize and execute on very specific objectves predetermined by Target.  As such there will be both internal + external demo day.
  • Teams will be based out of a 9,000 sq. ft. space in City Center adjoining the Target Innovation team with shared common areas for maximum interaction.


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What Entrepreneurs Need To Know About The Techstars / Target Retail Accelerator

Q&A With Techstars New Managing Director Ryan Broshar