Astounded by the quality and sophistication of the entries, our judges took until the very last moment to narrow down the field. In the end, there were many apps that qualified. The best of the bunch had mass appeal, minimal design, true on-the-go utility, and a native fit with the Target brand. The finalists below will each be assigned a Target Mentor for the next phase of the contest: submitting a prototype by May 30 to contend for the $75,000 grand prize.
We’ll let the entrants describe the apps in their own words. Click to see their proposals in situ at our Github repository, where you can see all their entry materials. In no particular order, here they are:
TargetCares by Siyuan Tu, Sangmi Park, Haihong Wang, Shelley Leung, and Yuan Gu
Target does a lot of philanthropy work, but according to these entrants, customers lack a way to contribute, and their mobile device is the natural place to bridge the gap between shoppers and social initiatives. The judges agreed, picking this app to move on to the finalist round. You can read our full app breakdown here.
Matisse by Jed Wood, Antonio Garcia, and Maris Grossman
This project starts with a little-known data point: Students who study art are four times as likely to be recognized for academic achievement, according to the Education Fund. Yet when schools cut budgets, art and music programs are always the first to see the chopping block. With little recourse beyond petitioning local government, there is little an individual family can do to help sustain art education in their community—a solvable problem, considering that the major source of overhead for art programs is supplies, which could conceivably be sourced via donations, if channels existed. You can read our full app breakdown here.
Divvy by Team Pilot
Divvy went on to win the $75,000 grand prize—read about it here. Why would Target shoppers want Divvy? This social shopping list is attacking a nuanced problem: How to make group shopping with an app easier than without one. Real-life obstacles to group shopping—such as splitting the bill, getting a copy of the receipt, transaction history, earning rewards points, and so on—those are the territory of this beautifully designed app. Furthermore, it solves what we will call the "Mint problem," which refers to the necessity to manually track items you buy inside personal finance apps like Mint, which only receive basic information about your purchase (outlet and price) from the credit card processor, making categorizing purchases an exercise in data entry. You can read our full app breakdown here.
TargetShare by Jinal Dalal, Ashutosh Pardeshi, and Vallabhi Parikh
There were several submissions that solved problems related to shopping lists, but TargetShare took a unique tack by focusing on the problems that concerned food shopping—namely, that food shopping requires too much friction to digitize the process easily. First, you have to decide what you'll make, itemize the recipes for that day or week, produce a shopping list, and then (presumably) enter it into some kind of app. TargetShare removes all these steps, adding zero overhead to the food-shopping process and saving a bunch of data entry in the process. You can read our full app breakdown here.
A/B by David Lu
The problem that this app, A/B, solves is a subtle one: How do you quickly get friends' opinions on your purchases, and aggregate their feedback in some way that helps you make an informed buying decision? And more important, how do you delimit your friends' feedback to only the items you're considering? Collecting opinions from friends is one of the most valuable ways to make informed decisions, but limiting the scope of the conversation can be difficult. Let's say you email a friend asking them for an opinion on a new bike; you're likely to get a reply that contains not just an opinion on the bike ("that bike is great, but...") but also a bunch of other second guesses and suggestions—have you seen the new public transit line that just opened? Have you considered a cruiser? Do you really need that many speeds? How about a fixed gear? The conversation needs limits. You can read our full app breakdown here.
Target Adventure by Florence Ng, Sheena Yang, and Jesse Pinuelas
There is scarcely a more common problem for parents than keeping their kids entertained while they go about their daily lives. Namely, in public places, where boredom sets in and tantrums can soon follow. There's rarely anything intrinsically fun about shopping when you're single-digit age, and most of the fun stuff in the store itself, you don't own and therefore are not really allowed to touch. As a result, shopping with a kid can prove to be taxing or torture. You can read our full app breakdown here.
Lookbook by CitizenMade
How do you easily curate products in a flexible, dynamic way across multiple use cases? That's the problem Lookbook seeks to solve. Sometimes a shopping list is too rigid; people collect lists of products for all kinds of reasons. Whether it's for a wish list, a color palette, gift ideas, design inspiration, or any other impulse, Target shoppers don't have an easy way of making loose collections of items which they can share and save easily in sets. You can read our full app breakdown here.
This seven-person team is an amalgam of developers and designers led by Chris Reardon, a user-experience expert with 15 years’ experience and the team’s strategist. Reardon imagined the initial concept for Divvy, but the core concept was developed fully through group ideation.
The team came together from disparate parts of one advertising agency. Chris Reardon, Erick Kopicki, and James Skidmore work at TBWA-Chiat here in New York. Juuso Myllyrinne, Charlton Roberts, and Chris Kief work at Pilot, a New York-based product development outfit owned by TBWA but operated separately. Steve White works for the TBWA-owned firm Integer in Colorado.
This wasn’t a preexisting team, although each of the members has worked with one another on projects piecemeal. It was Chris Reardon who pulled Team Pilot together specifically for this project. (They borrowed the name "Team Pilot" from the Pilot shop where Myllyrinne, Roberts, and Kopicki ply their day jobs.)
Make no mistake: This is a team with specialized individual skill sets and a deep knowledge of their fields; not only that, but our interviews revealed a real creative cohesiveness that comes across saliently in the designs for the app itself.
When we embarked on the Target and Co.Labs retail accelerator, we had no idea what to expect. We had put out a challenge to our newly minted readership, our site only weeks old, asking them to meet or exceed the abilities of a major corporation with renowned design cred and an obviously capable team of iOS and Web developers. What we saw in the 76 completed entries was a remarkable diversity of strategic thinking, impeccable design, programmatic cleverness, and, above all, originality. We continue to be humbled by our readers, and we thank you for sharing your ideas, sweat, pixels, and code with us.—The Editors