MINNEAPOLIS — More than thirty startups are joining Target Corp.’s inaugural Forward Founders accelerator program.
The program is built to equip historically under resourced founders to become “the next wave of generational wealth building companies,” according to Target’s accelerator team. It aims to use the retailer’s scale to democratize access, education and resources in the CPG space.
The program launched in mid-July with a cohort of brands representing multiple product categories, including 14 food and beverage startups, along with a variety of personal care, beauty, entertainment, home and baby brands. Running for eight weeks, the virtual program offers custom curriculum, leadership from distinguished founders, speakers and mentorship.
The 14 food and beverage brands selected for the Target Forward Founders program are:
Awesome Bites Co., an allergen-friendly startup founded by Jennifer Thai. It offers a range of baked and frozen treats featuring no added sugar, including muffins, bars, granola and ice cream.
Buzz Lite, a maker of specialty coffee with a microdose of caffeine founded by Andrew Cooper. The company’s Microdose Roast features 10% caffeine.
Ezra Coffee Co., a specialty coffee brand founded by Jessica Taylor. It seeks to connect coffee, culture and history through flavors such as Candied Yams and Toasted Southern Pecan.
Harlem Chocolate Factory, an artisan chocolate company founded by Asha Dixon and Jessica Spaulding. It seeks to convey the various cultural experiences of Harlem through its chocolate Brownstone Bars.
Hot N Saucy, a small-batch hot sauce company founded by Sam Allonce. It uses unique ingredients to create bold, flavorful sauces, including Sweet Potato N Habanero and Beet N Fresno.
Kokada, a coconut spread brand founded by Breanna Atkinson and Jared Golestani. The spread is similar to nut butters and comes in classic and brownie varieties.
Mesean Spices, a spice blends startup founded by Dominique Tolbert. It offers a range of spice blends inspired by the African Diaspora, including Q-Spice and Coffee Cumin.
Mighty Gum, a brand of functional chewing gum founded by Mathew Thalakotur. The gum features ingredients such as ashwagandha, astragalus, elderberry and reishi mushrooms.
MIZO Hard Seltzer, a hard seltzer startup founded by Holly Paul and Chris Tran. It offers a variety Asian-inspired flavors, including Asian Pear, Lychee and Calamansi.
Nemi, a snack brand founded by Regina Trillo. Made with cactus and seeds, the company’s crunchy snacks come in Mexican-inspired flavors such as Chili Turmeric, Churro and Smoky Chipotle.
Sahtein by Soph, a maker of on-the-go snack bites founded by Sophie Sabbagh. Inspired by the flavors of the Middle East, its snacks pair ground tahini with chocolate chips, almond flour, peanuts and monk fruit.
SpinJoy, a maker of plant-based convenience foods with nutritional density founded by Jocelyn Bryant and Kyle Gabriel. Its flagship product is a coconut flour wrap.
SugarRoti, an e-commerce spice company founded by Dana DuFrane and Bina Motiram. It offers a wide range of Indian-inspired, pre-measured and single-use spice blends.
The XCJ, a modern Chinese food brand founded by Jennifer Liao and Caleb Wang. The company aims to bring authentic Chinese street food experiences inside the home with crafted sauces and dumplings.