The Co.Labs And Target $75,000 Retail Accelerator Starts Here

Think you can build a mobile shopping app for one of the world’s best-known retailers? Here’s your chance to prove it.

The Co.Labs And Target $75,000 Retail Accelerator Starts Here

Two of the biggest challenges to becoming a successful developer are finding an audience and growing to scale. But what if you could go all the way from discovery to mass market before the summer’s out? That’s the challenge of the Target Retail Accelerator, which we’re kicking off today. The winner stands to make $75,000, and gets a chance to work with one of the leading innovators in the retail space. Seven finalists will also be awarded $10,000 each to turn their proposal into a prototype.


The goal: To build a mobile shopping experience that caters to customers who visit Target’s 1,778 stores. When the dust settles, the Co.Labs & Target Retail Accelerator will show the industry just what kind of magic the future of retail has in store.

Co.Labs, the newest member of Fast Company‘s Co. network, tells the story of the open company, where the best technology ideas are ignited by the community. So we were excited to learn that a premier retailer wanted to open up its own data and infrastructure to set innovative minds in motion around the world. Target will offer API access to each of the seven finalists, marking the first time access has been granted to the public. Each finalist will also be paired with a liaison from Target to help their app fit the Target platform.

The submissions should be native mobile apps, mobile web apps, or another mobile service that extends the Target customer experience in some useful, instructive, or entertaining way. The entries should demonstrate not only a clear vision, but show how they will be implemented technologically using wireframes and plan documents. Target has outlined four key areas of interest, the winning apps should address one or more of these:

  • Social: Enabling customers to interact with one another, or Target
  • Education: Helping students, teachers, and schools be more successful, and improving the community
  • In-store: Extending and improving the experience within the store, or until the next visit
  • Personalization: Catering to the unique tastes and needs of each individual customer

A panel of expert judges, to be announced soon, will evaluate each entry based on these five criteria:

  • Completeness: the extent to which the application can fully execute a main task, and either fully or partially executes secondary tasks.
  • Design: the extent to which the application concept is easy to grasp, and the appropriate behavior inside the app is obvious.
  • Technical Expertise: the extent to which the application’s components are built in sensible, scalable frameworks.
  • Data: the extent to which the application creates (or makes use of) the data which are by products of Target consumer behavior.
  • Magic: the extent to which the application creates a user experience which evokes curiosity in the end user.

One important thing to keep in mind before you enter: Target will own the app that wins. Finalists will receive seed money. Speaking of which, you really should read the contest rules before you enter.

Outstanding entries will be spotlit on Co.Labs as part of the Accelerator. We’re as interested in the process of creating a killer app as in the people behind it. The aim is to bring visibility to individual coders, teams, and startups who are unknown but doing great work.


Here are the key dates for the contest:
March 8: Contest launches
April 30: Last day for submissions
May 13: Announcement of 7 Finalists
May 14-30: Finalists work with Target to build their prototype
June 3-24: Finalists present their final prototypes to Target
TBD: Announcement of the Grand Prize Winner

[Target Image: whitelightgrapher via Shutterstock]


About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs