Target Bullseye: Q&A on Tech Start-Up Accelerator Program
Target on Monday officially opened the application process for its new startup accelerator program, created in partnership with Techstars and led by Target EIR (entrepreneur-in-residence) West Stringfellow. The retailer posted a Q&A with Stringfellow, who forged Target’s partnership with Techstars, on its Bullseye blog.
Here are highlights:
You’re an Entrepreneur in Residence for Target. What does that mean?
Both parts of my job description are equally important. As an entrepreneur / intrapreneur, I’ve spent my career innovating and building new products and businesses at places like VISA, PayPal, Rosetta Stone and Amazon. The “in residence” part is key – I am a full-time Target team member with permission to do what I need to do to drive growth. And that’s really what it’s about. Target’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence have a singular goal of launching new businesses that grow Target. And we’re only successful if we can accomplish that mission.
Why Techstars? Why does it make sense for Target?
Techstars is an awesome company. They have an improbable success rate in selecting and accelerating startups. Harvard reports that only 25% of startups survive. However, the success rate of a startup that goes through a Techstars program is closer to 90%. It’s a proven model that works. On top of that, we want our teams here at Target to learn from and think more like startups. Startups are passionate, driven, and energetic – and it’s going to be great for Target’s culture to work side-by-side with other hyper-motivated creators and innovators.
What can startups expect to gain from this experience if they’re ultimately chosen?
Techstars’ success rate speaks for itself. The chosen startups will get mentoring and access to one of the biggest and best mentoring networks in the country. They’ll get the capital to turn their ideas into reality. And they’ll go through a proven process that helps them develop their ideas, get off the ground and start their company.
What does Target look for in a startup?
Team, team, team, what market the idea is targeting, what progress has been made, and the strength of the idea. Why is team there three times? It’s critical to success. A great team can change an idea and still succeed, but a mediocre team will struggle to execute on even a great idea.
We look for people who can execute quickly, are coachable and listen well, are thoughtful but make fast decisions, are intellectually honest, are persistent, follow through and are insanely passionate about what they do. We’re looking for rock stars.
It seems like such an important part of this program is leadership and mentoring. Who are going to be Target’s mentors?
We have an awesome lineup of mentors, including Casey Carl, chief strategy and innovation officer; Jamil Ghani, VP of enterprise strategy; Jason Goldberger, president of Target.com and mobile; and me.
Depending on the types of startups we bring in, we’re also looking for mentors outside of our tech and innovation teams who have the right expertise. Our goal is to align the startups with Target team members, the Target leadership team and external experts who have the greatest potential to help them.
What makes you most excited about the program?
Three things. First, I love working with startups and seeing their passion and excitement. Working in an accelerator program is a journey of incredible intensity and creation and I’m excited to be part of it.
Second, at a corporate level, I love what it’s going to teach Target team members: that small, highly-empowered teams can achieve great things. And lastly, I can’t wait to see what this is going to do for the Twin Cities. Target is dedicated to developing a tech community in Minneapolis and this is one step in that direction.
In addition to the 10 startups, you’re also including one team from Target. Why did you decide to do that and what do you hope to gain?
We want to create the opportunity for Target team members to flex their entrepreneurial muscles, have a unique experience and then return to their roles having launched a new business. Team members who participate in the accelerator will have the opportunity to share their experience and learnings with the rest of Target and spread the knowledge.
We imagine these accelerators can extend beyond the host company and into the local community. Is that a hope here?
Absolutely. Techstars’ success depends on that. Here’s an example: Techstars worked with Ford in 2014 as part of the Techstars Mobility Accelerator. The accelerator received applications from 42 different countries, half of the participating startups established a permanent presence in Detroit, and Detroit has now attracted Startup Next and Startup Week for 2016.
We expect that our program and investment in Minneapolis will have the same impact. It’s an awesome opportunity for the city to unite. What makes Silicon Valley and other major tech hubs great are the people and the community. Target, Techstars and the Twin Cities have all of the tools to build a thriving community of innovation, entrepreneurship and technical innovation. We intend to make Minneapolis the capital of the Silicon Prairie.
Amazon to New York Times: Get your facts straight
Teradata’s Bob Fair offers retail, CPG marketing tips
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Aside from some massively complex challenges, retailer and consumer packaged goods marketers have never had it so good, according to Bob Fair, president of marketing applications at Teradata.
“It is a great time to be a marketer,” Fair told a group of nearly 100 analysts and international media gathered here at the Anaheim Convention Center for the big data analytics and marketing applications company’s annual users conference. “There is an explosion of digital channels so companies no longer dictate how to interact with customers, the customers dictate how to interact with companies.”
Meanwhile, Fair noted that marketing budgets are not keeping pace with the rate of growth in the channels available to connect with consumers who expect individualized marketing.
“The customer doesn’t care how challenging individualized marketing is, they expect you to know who they are and what they have just done,” Fair said regarding consumers’ behavior at different touch point on the path to purchase.
Between the increased complexity and resource constraints, the scenario outlined by Fair sounded more like a nightmare than “a great time to be a marketer.” However, his enthusiasm about marketing stems from the fact that technological solutions now exists that help markets cost effectively solve huge challenges to create business value.
Most notably, marketers today have access to more customer data and more digital and offline channels for brand engagement than ever before. As a result, both the process and technology of modern marketing have advanced from an advertising-driven mix of TV, print, radio, direct mail, and programmatic marketing to today’s data-driven environment with the Internet of Things, new devices, and new channels including search, social media, email, mobile, web and more. According to Teradata, the added complexity puts marketers in critical need of a Data Management Platform (DMP) to collect and integrate all of the data for use in real time across all channel opportunities.
How to address those critical needs amid the big data explosion is one of the reasons why Teradata’s 30th annual Partners conference attracted roughly 6,000 attendees. It’s also why Fair is excited by what Teradata has done with a major upgrade to the Teradata’s Integrated Marketing Cloud and one of the company’s recent acquisitions.
Teradata acquired the Netherlands-based DMP provider FLXone on Sept. 30 to serve as the foundation for Teradata’s Integrated Marketing Cloud. As a result, Teradata contends it is the first company to bring online advertising and customer marketing data together to drive real-time interactions across all channels and provide integrated, individualized insights directly to marketing. FLXone also brings an extensive partner ecosystem with more than 40 leading advertisers, publishers, agencies, and media trading desks, including AppNexus, Google DoubleClick and MediaMath, according to Teradata.
“These partnerships will enable customers to quickly integrate their data and applications with the Teradata Integrated Marketing Cloud, so they can leverage data in real-time, across all channels, to provide a consistent customer-engagement experience,” the company said in a statement.