The death of retail is greatly exaggerated.
XRC Labs hosted demo day for its fourth cohort, which includes ten innovative startups that are changing the face of retail. Since launching two years ago, the program has backed 36 startups and 70% of the past graduates have gone on to raise additional funds. The accelerator was conceived jointly by Kurt Salmon, now part of Accenture, and the Parsons School of Design to drive positive transformation for retail and consumer goods industries through a design-centric innovation ecosystem. Over the last 14 weeks, the summer cohort enjoyed state of the office space on 5th Avenue in Union Square, world class mentorship, access to capital, direct introductions that have led to partnerships with some of the leading brands, and operational support, all in addition to $100,000 in investment.
“The XRC Cohort Four companies represent the best in class in the key disruptive trends in the retail and consumer goods industry (store to consumer, store as experience, store as platform, store as service, store as plant). From facial recognition technology to on-demand manufacturing, XRC companies are partnering with leading edge retailers and brands to bring about transformation to an industry that needs to keep pace with the rapid changes experienced by their customers in every day life,” said Pano Anthos, Founder and Managing Director of XRC Labs. The program maintains strong focus on diversity among the founders: across the four cohorts, over 60% of founders are female and 40% are minorities. Founders hail from Chile, China, Canada, Lebanon, Israel, Wales, in addition to cities across the US.
“All of our startups either provide solutions that allow brands and retailers to engage with consumers more meaningfully or improve a shopper’s experience,” Leslie Cohen, Executive Director, XRC Labs, explains. Additionally, several of the startups in Cohort Four focus on social impact. “We are proud that three of our ten startups have a focus on social responsibility, from sustainability to designing for underrepresented consumers,” Cohen shared with AlleyWatch.
XRC startups have already partnered with some of the biggest names in retail like Coach, Equinox, Theory, Adidas, Athleta, Reebok, Ralph Lauren, John Varvatos, Anna Sui, and Lord & Taylor. Corporate partners backing the program include Intel, Lowe’s, TJX, GAP, NRF, Shoptalk, and Best Buy. Chris Haynes, a Retail Industry Architect at Intel, remarked, “XRC gives us an ear to the track of upcoming trends and technologies that are transforming consumer experiences in retail and supply chain.”
It’s not just window shopping – these sponsor companies derive direct value from their partnership with the program. “Startups are needed by retailers now more than ever given the unprecedented amount of disruption the industry is facing. Accenture is excited to be part of XRC’s demo day which is critical to helping us connect relevant startups with our clients,” said Jill Standish, head of global retail for Accenture.
Without further ado, let’s learn more about the 10 startups that hit the stage at demo day.