Applying for any accelerator program can be nerve-wracking, especially if it is your first time. We want you to put your best foot forward! Mastering the art of submitting an accurate, thorough, and compelling application is often overlooked by applicants; it’s your first impression for the program team!

That’s why our team has rounded up tips and key definitions to help you submit a successful application.

Tip #1: Make sure your company meets the program qualifications.

Applications for both our Target Forward Founders and Target Takeoff Beauty programs are CLOSED. Not sure about which program fits your brand best? Be sure to review the qualifications of each program carefully before deciding which to apply for. Take a step back and think: Does your company fit the industry or product category the program requires? Can you participate fully in the program? Can you clearly communicate what value you are hoping to get out of the program? If the answer to any of these is no, then you might not be ready. For a full list of  criteria please visit each program’s page.

Target Forward Founders is the perfect program for early-stage consumer packaged goods companies interested in learning about the next steps toward mass retail readiness. Throughout this virtual, eight-week program you will be connected to innovative founders, Target team members, and other cohort members while gaining access to industry-leading retail resources and partnerships.

Target Takeoff applicants are mature consumer packaged goods companies. Takeoff participants envision that the next step is to scale their product into mass retail, and are especially interested in Target. This program will help launch your brand to new heights with a program that’s part accelerator and part boot camp.  During the five weeks of virtual programming, you’ll learn tips for a successful partnership with Target, collaborate with an incredible team of mentors and have the opportunity to pitch to Target buyers.

NOTE: Target Takeoff is currently recruiting for Beauty brands. Other products will not be accepted at this time. Other anticipated Takeoff programs in 2022 include: Pets, Food & Beverage, and Baby.

What category does my product fit into?

The lists below are only examples of product type per category; please visit each program page for specific product category criteria. At this time, our programs are currently NOT accepting the following categories: accessories, apparel, and home.

  • Beauty & Cosmetics: Artificial Nails; Bath & Body; Body Lotions & Creams; Cleansers; Deodorant & Antiperspirant; Feminine Products; Fragrances; Hair Accessories; Hair Brushes & Combs; Hair Color; Hair Styling Products; Hair Styling Tools; Hair Treatments; Hand Soap & Sanitizer; Kids Hair Care; Makeup Palettes & Sets; Makeup Tools & Brushes; Men’s Skin Care; Moisturizers; Nail Care Tools; Nail Polish; Oral Care; Serums, Treatments, and Masks; Shampoo & Conditioner; Sun Care & Tanning; Textured Hair Care; Tools.
  • Food & Beverage:  Adult Beverages; Bakery & Bread; Breakfast & Cereal; Candy; Canned & Packaged Foods; Chips; Cocktail Mixers; Coffee; Cookies; Crackers; Energy & Sports Drinks; Ethnic & Cultural Snacks; Frozen Foods; Juice & Cider; Nuts; Powdered & Liquid Drink Mixes; Protein & Meal Replacement Drinks; Soda & pop; Tea; Trail & Snack Mixes; Water.
  • Household Essentials: Candles & Air Fresheners; Cleaning Supplies; Dish Detergents; Disposable Tableware; Facial Tissue; Food Storage Bags & Containers; Hand Soap & Sanitizers; Laundry Care; Natural Cleaning; Insect & Pest Control; Paper & Plastic Products; Paper Towels; Toilet Paper; Trash Bags.
  • Baby:  Baby Clothing & Shoes; Baby Health & Safety; Baby Toys; Bath & Potty; Diapering; Gear & Activity; Nursery; Nursing & Feeding; Toddler.
  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Healthcare:  Allergy & Sinus; Cough, Cold, & Flu; Ear Care; Eye Care; First Aid; Foot Care; Home Health Care; Incontinence; Medicines & Treatments; Nutrition & Weight Management; Scrubs; Sexual Health; Vitamins & Supplements.
Tip #2: Be clear about your company and product.

Our team uses the responses in your application to determine if your company aligns with our program offerings and objectives. Be clear in your company’s purpose, the problem you address, and the solution your products provide. Also, it is tempting to select many or all options on questions asking about your business, but that can be a disadvantage based on the program criteria. We are not looking for “perfect” answers but honest answers to ensure a great experience. If you’re not sure what a question is asking, check out commonly used retail language below.

Tip #3: Proofread your application!

The review panel can only judge your application by what you include in it so it is important to make sure that what you are trying to communicate clearly comes through in your application before you hit the submit button:

  • Ensure all links you provide actually work! This includes everything from your website, Instagram handle, etc.
  • For the essay questions, ensure that you are completely answering the question that is asked and that your answer is thorough and you have double-checked your spelling. If you are providing one-word responses, you may want to go back and add more context.
  • Have a friend, partner, or family member read through your application to see if someone that is not as close to the work understands what you are trying to communicate.
Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Take advantage of any opportunity to raise a question to the program you are applying for if you are ever unsure about what they are looking for – whether that be attending an informational webinar, office hours or even reaching out directly to a program contact. You don’t want to count yourself out of an opportunity just because you didn’t ask for help or clarity!

To reach the team email forwardfounders@target.com or tgt.takeoff@target.com 

Tip #5: Learn the jargon!

In your application, you may run into jargon or questions you are unfamiliar with. Searching, learning, and asking about these terms or phrases will be your best bet before turning in your application. Check out some common retail-specific terms below:

A

Accelerators: Accelerator programs are programs of limited duration that help cohorts of startups on their entrepreneurial journey. They provide a schedule of workshops, mentorship and connections with investors and business partners. They aim to advance businesses to the next stage. Typically, there is an investment of time for attending sessions, networking and completing pre-work.

Annual Revenue: Your annual revenue is the amount of money your company earns from sales over a year; it does not include costs and expenses. To calculate your annual revenue, multiply the quantity of each product you sold by its sale price, and then add each product’s annual sales to determine your gross annual revenue. Source

B

B Corp: A benefit corporation, sometimes called a B Corp, is a for-profit corporation recognized by a majority of U.S. states. B corps are different from C corps in purpose, accountability, and transparency, but aren’t different in how they’re taxed. B corps are driven by both mission and profit. Shareholders hold the company accountable to produce some sort of public benefit in addition to a financial profit. Some states require B corps to submit annual benefit reports that demonstrate their contribution to the public good. Source [add link for how to apply for bcorp)

Knowing how your business is registered is important, as the Target Accelerators programs can only work with individually owned businesses.

Boutique: A small shop or small specialty department within a larger store.

Brick & Mortar: The term “brick-and-mortar” refers to a traditional street-side business that offers products and services to its customers face-to-face in an office or store that the business owns or rents. Examples include Target stores, boutique stores, and local grocers. Source

Broker: A sales agency or company that sells a manufacturer’s products and/or acts as an intermediary to wholesale/mass retail customers.

C

C Corp: A C corporation, sometimes called a C Corp, is a legal entity that’s separate from its owners. Corporations can make a profit, be taxed, and can be held legally liable. Source

Knowing how your business is registered is important, as the Target Accelerators programs can only work with individually owned businesses.

Certifications: A business certification is an official document that eligible enterprises can apply for. Types of small business certifications include, but are not limited to: 8(a) Small Business Certifications, HUBZone Business Certification, Women-Owned Businesses Certifications, Minority-Owned Businesses Certification. You can read more about these certifications and how to apply for them here.

Channel: A channel is described as any location where your product is available for a consumer to purchase. i.e. eCommerce sites; brick & mortar stores; specialty boutiques

Competitors: Your competitor is another company selling similar products with similar goals of achieving revenue, profit, and market share growth. There are different kinds of competitors in your market and it is important to know who they are.

Direct Competitors are businesses offering similar products and services

Indirect Competitors are businesses that offer slightly different products and services, but target the same group of customers with the goal of satisfying the same need.

Pro Tip: Even if you think you don’t have direct competition, think about indirect competitors.  Even the biggest brands have competitors.

Co-Ops: A cooperative (co-op) is a business or organization owned by and operated for the benefit of its members. Profits or earnings are distributed among its members. The co-op can be a for-profit business or a non-profit organization. Source

D

Direct to Consumer (D2C/DTC): Direct to consumer (DTC) means that you send products directly to your consumer.

Drop Ship: Drop shipping is a fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, the store purchases the item from a third-party supplier and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the seller doesn’t have to handle the product directly. Source

Our team would like to know about your fulfillment capabilities to better understand your brand’s scope and ability to fulfill mass retail needs.

Drugstores: Drugstores specialize in beauty and personal goods, household essentials, medical supplies, and over-the-counter products. Some examples of drugstores include CVS Pharmacy, Longs Drugs, Meijer, Rite Aid, and Walgreens.

E

eCommerce: The term electronic commerce (ecommerce) refers to a business model that allows companies and individuals to buy and sell goods and services over the Internet.

EDI: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the computer-to-computer exchange of business in a standard electronic format between business partners. EDI documents can flow straight through to the appropriate application on the receiver’s computer (e.g. the order management system) and processing can begin immediately. Sometimes your fulfillment center/3PL has the capability. Source 

Our team would like to know about your fulfillment capabilities to better understand your brand’s scope and ability to fulfill mass retail needs.

Employee: anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done. This is so even when you give the employee freedom of action. What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.

Our team does not consider independent contractors or vendors as employees of your business; i.e. your accountant, mentors, or rep groups would not be considered employees.

G

Grocers: Grocers or grocery stores are the bridge between specialized natural enhanced retailers where natural brands often begin and larger, conventional retailers. Some examples of grocers are Albertsons, Aldi, HEB, Kroger, Lucky Supermarkets, Raleys, and Wegmens.

I

Independents: A business that is not inextricably associated with another business through common ownership, affiliation, sharing of employees, facilities, equipment, profits and losses.

L

Lifetime Revenue: Lifetime Revenue is the total amount of income generated by the sale of goods or services related to the company’s primary operations recognized over the historic business lifespan.

Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC lets you take advantage of the benefits of both the corporation and partnership business structures. LLCs protect you from personal liability in most instances, your personal assets — like your vehicle, house, and savings accounts — won’t be at risk in case your LLC faces bankruptcy or lawsuits. Not an LLC? Visit this link on how you can set your business up as an LLC.

Knowing how your business is registered is important, as the Target Accelerators programs can only work with individually owned businesses.

Line Review: A product line review (PLR) works as a validation process for retailers to confirm that their merchandising plan is in line with the overall goals of the organization. Source

This does not include any casual or small conversations you’ve had with buyers.

M

Manufacturing Capabilities: Each of our programs have different manufacturing criteria. Below are the three options that are on our program applications.

  • You or an employee make the products yourself
  • You own and utilize your own manufacturing equipment
  • You work with a co-manufacturer

It is important for our team to understand how you manufacture your products

P

Price Point: The price point describes the price for which something is sold on the retail market.  

R

Revenue: Revenue is the money generated from normal business operations, calculated as the average sales price times the number of units sold. It is the top line (or gross income) figure from which costs are subtracted to determine net income. Revenue is also known as sales on the income statement. Source

Pro Tip: Revenue includes all money that has been made from selling your product and helps our review team ensure that you are making money.

S

SKU: A stock keeping unit (SKU) is a distinct type of item for sale.

Social Media: Social media is a computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. By design, social media is Internet-based and gives users quick electronic communication of content. Content includes personal information, documents, videos, and photos. Users engage with social media via a computer, tablet, or smartphone via web-based software or applications. Some examples of social media are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn.   Source

Sustainability Claims: A delineation used to set apart and promote a product with reference to one or more of the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic, and environmental). Source

V

Vendor Rep Group: A sales agency or company that sells a manufacturer’s products and/or acts as an intermediary to wholesale/mass retail customers.

Knowing this helps our review team understand the stage your business is at and if the program you’ve applied to is beneficial for you.

W

Website: also referred to as “site,” is your own personal domain on the internet where you sell your products. Websites have endings that include but are not limited to “.com”, “.co”, “.in”,”.net”, and etc. Please note, your instagram or facebook page are NOT considered websites but forms of social media

#

3PL: 3PL, or third-party logistics company, provides services to help with supply chain capabilities. 3s. Source

Our team would like to know about your fulfillment capabilities to better understand your brand’s scope and ability to fulfill mass retail needs.


Have lingering questions about our programs? Reach out to us by e-mailing us at accelerators@target.com.