Accelerating Innovation in Retail and
Who We Are
XRC Labs is an innovation accelerator for the next generation of disruptors in the retail and consumer goods sectors.
A venture sponsored by world class retailers and brands as well as founding sponsor organizations Kurt Salmon and the Parsons School of Design at the New School, we have created a first of its kind design-centric innovation ecosystem for the retail and consumer goods industries.
What We Do
Providing workspace on the campus of Parsons, access to capital, mentoring, and operational support to emerging companies in the retail and consumer goods industries, XRC Labs runs two 14 week programs each year bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, and sponsors to foster rapid innovation and unlock new opportunities in retail.
Our programs are hosted in Manhattan, the epicenter of retail and consumer goods, on the 5th Avenue campus of Parsons, recently named the #1 art and design school in the US and #2 in the world and a co-founder of XRC Labs.
Our mission is to foster companies and products that innovate the face of retail and consumer goods fulfillment in a rapidly changing marketplace using design thinking as a key driving process.
The XRC Labs vision is to be at the forefront of change, disrupting the conventional system of
supply chain, promoting the best experience for consumers and producers, and creating an
ecosystem that matches partners for success.
At XRC We…
- Embrace sustainability so the Earth we leave to future generations is a better place than when we inhabited it
- Advocate for moderate consumption to promote a flight to quality and legacy — less is more, for a longer period of time
- Endorse economic well-being that fosters a global improvement in the economic condition of participants in the global economy
- Demand integrity, honesty, and fairness in our internal and external relationships
- Recognize and nurture excellence in people, technology and products
- Mentor the next generation of innovators
- Share and exchange ideas in an open forum to generate new solutions
- Encourage solutions from multiple sectors, applied to retail and consumer products
Why It Matters
Design really matters. Consumers are buying products and shopping at omnichannel stores that deliver a great experience. Disruptive companies are more likely to be founded by designers than by hard-core technologists.
Even though the retail world still dwarfs ecommerce in size it will be more and more influenced by software and great design. The old bricks vs. clicks question isn’t relevant anymore. Customers want a single, well-designed experience for the products they use and the shops they visit, both online and offline. The facts speak for themselves:
71 percent of consumers want access to in-store inventory when shopping online
50 percent of consumers expect to buy online and pick up in-store
Nearly 50 percent of in-store retail sales are influenced or start online, representing nearly $2 trillion in commerce
An omnichannel, ubiquitous, and well-designed experience is the new norm. As companies like Warby Parker, Bonobos, and Athleta demonstrate, an online experience is not sufficient for many customers. Customers expect a common, branded, and engaging experience, everywhere. The new rule is: one brand, one experience.
Despite the size of the opportunity, both building a brand online and selling to retail offline is really hard. The brand has to engage, resonate, and compel people to buy, immediately.
And yet the needs of each channel – online, mobile, offline – are very different. New entrants into consumer and retail markets need specialized expertise and light-speed innovation. Failing hyperfast and nanosecond reinvention are just table stakes.
XRC Labs is the first accelerator ecosystem of powerhouse influencers shaping the future of the consumer experience. Smart startups with Big Ideas get exclusive access to our network of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry leaders. They graduate from XRC Labs with honed skills, perfected product ideas, solid business plans, and a priceless new network.
- FOUNDING PARTNERS
The Parsons School of Design, and Kurt Salmon provide a singular combination of talent, insight, and expertise
- COHORT COMPANIES
We select the strongest startups, among an impressive list of applicants, to accelerate their businesses and products in the world of retail innovation. Check out our present and past cohorts.
- MANAGEMENT TEAM
A seasoned team with practical knowledge in entrepreneurship and strategic growth in all phases.
Sponsors are major retailers and brands who believe in actively supporting innovation in retail and consumer products.
Leading industry experts in technology, retail, and consumer goods who directly advise our companies.
The Fellows Program is a highly selective fellowship that combines students and recent alumni of The New School from various disciplines to generate a creative think tank.
- PLATFORM PARTNERS
Essential technology companies providing the infrastructure to our cohorts to make the magic happen – offline or online, in-store or in the cloud.
- AFFILIATE PROGRAM
Affiliate companies are startups that join our community during a cohort session. Check out our present and past affiliates.
“I was impressed with XRC’s launch event. As someone who has been to a number of these events, I know that it can sometimes be difficult to fill the room with relevant and interesting people. XRC had no such problem. XRC’s launch event was full of the brightest minds in the industry and I left with as many exciting business cards as I might collect in a year going to other networking events.”
“Thanks again for inviting me to the demo day. The companies were all interesting – a feat by itself – and the event was second to none. The production, from presentations to setting to music, networking, and catering were the best I’ve ever seen in a demo day. Congratulations.”
Thatcher Bell, Managing Partner, Coventures
Venture Partner, Gotham Ventures
“One of the great benefits of being part of XRC Labs is the access to a high-quality mentor network of top executives, entrepreneurs and investors who share their experience, provide guidance and feedback that have helped accelerate our business.”
John Orekunrin, Co-Founder, QUINN
“Our client relationships are paramount at Forrge. XRC Labs provided Forrge with an ecosystem of retailers and brands that enabled us to accelerate our company. XRC’s mentors and advisors had a keen understanding of the priorities and specific language of big box retailers, and were able to help us frame our value proposition accordingly. Forrge was seen by the right people at the right companies, and our revolutionary platform was truly championed and valued. “
Stacey Ferreira, CEO, Forrge
“XRC Labs gave us phenomenal access to luxury, retail and creative C-suite veterans, together with unyielding support from an internal team who give this program their all, everyday.”
Nikki Lawrence, CEO and Co-Founder, GLEEM & CO
“FINDMINE would not be where it is today without XRC. The program legitimized us as a thought leader and introduced us to retailers and partners, several of whom we are working with now, who were out of our weight class prior to the program.”
Michelle Harrison Bacharach, CEO & Co-Founder, FINDMINE
Cui Arroyo, eCommerce Director
Walmart Mexico & Central America