Why They Won: We Break Down The Finalists From Our Retail Accelerator

We’re doing a full rundown on each of the finalists from our Co.Labs & Target Retail App Accelerator: The goal behind the final seven apps, the use cases, the clever twists, the potential roadblocks, and (of course) the reasons they advanced to the next round.

Why They Won: We Break Down The Finalists From Our Retail Accelerator

The Co.Labs and Target Retail Accelerator challenged entrants to design and build an app that would extend the Target customer experience into new areas, leveraging mobile software–native or web-based–to produce new and pro-social effects in their community, family, school, or social network. Our celebrity judges have selected their finalists, who each received $10,000 seed money and a Target mentor for the next stage–competing for a $75,000 buyout grand prize. Here we’re breaking down each of the finalists: Keep your fingers crossed for them as they enter final judging this week at Target HQ in Minneapolis; we’ll announce the grand prize winner on June 27th. Now, for the finalists.


Lookbook, By Team Citizen Made

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 wishlist, a color pallette, 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. Such is the problem this team chose to tackle. Team Citizen Made is comprised of Bryn McCoy, Rachel Brooks, and Karen Lee.

Divvy, By Team Pilot

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 excercise in data entry. Such is the problem this team chose to tackle. Team Pilot is comprised of James Skidmore, Chris Kief, Christopher Reardon, Eric Kopicki, Steve White, Juuso Myllyrinne, and Charlton Roberts.

Target Adventure, By Team Ingenious

There is scarcely a more acute 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 are soon to 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. Such is the problem this team chose to tackle. Team Ingenious is comprised of Florence Ng, Sheena Yang, and Jesse Pinuelas.

A/B, By David Chu

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 importantly, 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. Such is the problem that David Chu chose to tackle.

TargetShare, By Team TargetShare

There were several submissions that solved problems around shopping lists, but TargetShare took a unique tack by focusing on the problems around 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. Such is the problem this team chose to tackle. Team TargetShare is comprised of Jinal Dalal, Ashutosh Pardeshi, and Vallbhi Parikh.

Target Cares, By Team HYS3

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. Such is the problem this team chose to tackle. Team HYS3 is comprised of Siyuan Tu, Sangmi Park, Haihong Wang, Shelley Leung, and Yuan Gu.


Matisse, By Team Matisse

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. Such is the problem this team chose to tackle. Team Matisse is comprised of Jed Wood, Antonio Garcia, and Maris Grossman.

Stay tuned-in to theCo.Labs and Target Retail Accelerator to find out who wins the $75,000 grand prize soon. –The Editors

[Image: Flickr user Daniel Oines]


About the author

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