SOURCE: Iterate Studio

Iterate Studio

June 10, 2014 09:00 ET

Iterate Studio Launches First Independent Proof-of-Concept Lab for Retail Companies

Team of Retail Veterans Lead Discovery, Curation, and Validation of Emerging Technologies at Rapid-Fire Pace

PALO ALTO, CA--(Marketwired - Jun 10, 2014) - Iterate Studio today announced the launch of the retail industry's first independent proof-of-concept lab aiming to speed the technology invention curve for retail firms. Join the 17 start-ups and 20 retail companies already participating at www.iteratestudio.com.

Today there are over 10,000 ecommerce companies in existence, with 2,000 more launching every year. Retail companies face a nearly impossible challenge trying to make sense of all those emerging, global technologies. To demystify the chaos, Iterate Studio curates those start-ups and then rapidly tests those showing the most promising business impact. Test results are shared amongst participating retail members, amplifying their ability to innovate quickly -- and reducing the advantage currently held by industry behemoths like Amazon and Walmart.

"We're not an accelerator with inherent bias," said Jon Nordmark, CEO and co-founder of Iterate Studio. "We're not a single start-up or a single technology. We are an agnostic supplier and tester of emerging technologies. That means that any start-up from any of the 400 global tech accelerators, from any VC, from any entrepreneur, is a candidate for testing. We don't discriminate based on how much money you raise, where you're based or who your investors are -- we democratize innovation."

The Iterate concept formed after its founders worked as board members for an Eastern European tech accelerator. They realized that European start-ups were having the same problems as TechStars/Y-Combinator grads: they couldn't persuade U.S. executives to answer their emails. Iterate's founders determined that large global and U.S.-based companies could innovate more effectively if all of those unique, test-worthy ecommerce technologies could be proof-tested before "bothering" executives of large companies. As one of Iterate's founders said, "The TechStars-for-after-TechStars had to be born."

How can smaller retail firms compete and quickly innovate?

As tech-focused companies like Amazon invade established retail and media markets, incumbent firms must adapt to the digital world. For example, Amazon spent $6.5 billion on R&D in 2013, as their revenues grew by $13.3 billion in 2013 (equal to six DSW chains). In response, Walmart and Staples have built Digital Labs. Walmart employs more than 1,200 people in Silicon Valley and has acquired 10-plus technology-related start-ups.

For most retailers, though, culling through thousands of uncertain technologies is expensive, time-consuming and prone to significant risk. As a result, many are turning to Iterate Studio and its entrepreneurial founders who methodically engage with the ecommerce start-up community worldwide, which represents the equivalent of a $10 billion annual R&D spend.

"Iterate bridges the gap between transformative technologies and a coalition of large company executives who need to test and consume those technologies faster," said Sapna Shah, founder of Red Giraffe Advisors who invested in the Iterate Studio seed round.

"The real win is getting the experiments done without devouring the time and resources of large company executives and their teams that are focused on mission-critical day-to-day activities," added Iterate investor Fred Soneya, co-founder of Haatch.com, a unique Investor / Incubator based in the United Kingdom.

How Iterate Studio Works

Iterate couples the R&D engine of the global start-up ecosystem with an orchestrated testing capability that lives inside real dotcom and mobile websites. Iterate's process is systematic, low-cost and includes the following benefits:

Discovers Thousands of Digital Solutions
Iterate finds technologies before they're widely visible. To discover qualified start-ups, Iterate's founders have established hundreds of relationships -- globally -- with accelerators, angels, venture capitalists and fellow entrepreneurs. In addition, some retailers elect to bounce all start-up solicitations to Iterate for cataloging and vetting.

Many start-ups are surfaced before they have hired a salesperson. This contributes to retail members getting an opportunity to lead the market, not follow it.

Curates Thousands of Digital Solutions
Iterate curates thousands of start-ups to pinpoint the subset with the best probable business impact. As part of the curation process, start-ups pass through financial tests, load tests and early adopter reference-checks.

Removing Tradition Roadblocks
Before testing a start-up, historically, a large company would write an ROI (without having data) and negotiate a contract or MSA to formalize licensing and mutual legal protection. Then, it would insert the start-up's technology into an oversubscribed IT pipeline to install a test. This process could take between six months and a year.

Iterate removes those roadblocks. Acting similar to a general-contractor/sub-contractor relationship, Iterate's start-ups sign legal agreements allowing for the work with the large companies. This eliminates the need for re-arranging the IT pipeline, dozens of ROIs and one-off contracts.

Rapid Proof-of-Concepts
After curation, Iterate designs scientific proof-of-concept tests called Proof Protocols™. Then on behalf of members, Iterate installs and tests the high-potential technologies inside real customer dotcom and mobile site, intercepting 3 to 10 percent of live traffic.

In recent years, the confluence of cloud computing, JavaScript, A/B split test platforms and Tag Management solutions have made it easier to test technologies fast and safely.

Knowledge Sharing
Test results are shared as Perfect Insights™. Perfect Insights describe how a new service affects metrics like conversion rates, engagement, page views, frequency of visits and revenue per user. Those results are shared with cooperating retail and media members. This amplifies the innovation activities for members.

Triple the Tests
Iterate can double, triple or quadruple the number of experiments a large company does annually. This should double, triple or quadruple the success rate.

"What Iterate is doing totally makes sense for ecommerce-oriented retailers large and small," said Steve Papa, founder/CEO of Endeca, which was acquired by Oracle for $1.1 billion. "The value of getting innovation as it hits the market versus waiting for three years is enormous in today's rapidly evolving world."

Pricing and Availability

Retail member companies pay an annual subscription fee based on volume. Start-ups can join at no upfront cost. Visit www.iteratestudio.com for more information.

About Iterate Studio

Based in Silicon Valley, Denver, and NYC, Iterate Studio is a digital proof-of-concept lab that discovers and curates emerging technologies, then implements proof-tests for an exclusive members-only group of non-competing retailers and, soon, media brands. Iterate reduces time, costs and risks associated with analyzing and deploying innovative start-up technologies. Iterate is run by CEOs, investors and product veterans from the retail and media verticals. For press inquires please contact press@iteratestudio.com, follow us on Twitter @IterateStudio or visit IterateStudio.com.

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