Technology R/GA Startups

R/GA Ventures and Westfield Labs graduate latest class in San Francisco


By Kyle O'Brien | Creative Works Editor

October 31, 2016 | 4 min read

R/GA Ventures, with partner Westfield Labs, has concluded its Connected Commerce Accelerator program with a demo event in San Francisco.

The accelerator is a three-month, immersive, mentor driven program designed for startups developing connected hardware products and software services with the goal of helping them to build businesses and brands that can scale. The program taps into the emerging class of products that combine hardware, data, and digital services in compelling ways for consumers and businesses.

Following 12 weeks of mentorship, pilots, and ongoing work with brand, technology, and business consultants from the R/GA Services team, Westfield Labs, and program partners, the ten participating companies presented their commerce and retail-focused businesses to investors and business partners.

The participants represent the next wave of innovation in the commerce and retail space, ranging from innovative takes on fulfillment, delivery, and returns to retail workforce optimization and training solutions, adaptive messaging powered by machine learning, a new platform for the connected store, and companies using artificial intelligence (AI) for customer service, bot management, and image recognition.

The R/GA Connected Commerce Accelerator with Westfield Labs graduating class includes:

● Agent Q, a customer service chat platform that superpowers agents with Artificial Intelligence. With the help of the R/GA Services team and the program partners, Agent Q trained its machine-learning algorithms to make agents faster and more effective.

● AxleHire, a same-day delivery service for e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retailers. Throughout the program, they doubled in size, expanding revenue to almost $200,000 per month, fulfilling 40,000 deliveries in September alone.

● Clarifai, an AI company that empowers businesses and developers to solve real-world problems using visual recognition. During the program, Clarifai launched Custom Training, which enables customers to train AI models, and Visual Search, which allows businesses to easily use AI-powered search to browse, find, and recommend images by keyword and visual similarity. Clarifai recently announced a $30 million round of funding led by Menlo Ventures.

● Cordial, an adaptive messaging platform that helps retailers and publishers combine analytics with machine learning to create messaging that speak to what consumers need in the moment. In partnership with R/GA, Cordial is expanding its machine learning capabilities.

● Darkstore, an on-demand delivery fulfillment platform that enables e-commerce brands to store inventory in warehouses within cities so they can offer same-day delivery. Having already launched in San Francisco in May with Tuft & Needle, they are launching four more brands including Frank + Oak, Peel, Wildfang, and Skipodz and new Darkstore locations in New York City and Phoenix.

● Happy Returns, a technology, logistics, and service company that enables in-person returns for online shoppers. Building a network of Return Bars where online shoppers can return items in person for an immediate refund. The company is expanding its Return Bar network to two new Westfield locations, where its return services are now fully integrated into the mall concierge.

● Myagi lets sales associates master the customer experience by delivering lightweight, easy-to-access lessons at exactly the right time.

● Oak is launching Oak StockRoom, a new product leveraging Artificial Intelligence to predict and request in-store stock movement.

● Percolata uses sensor and sales data in physical retail stores to optimize sales teams, giving a 10-30% boost in revenue using the same labor budget and staff.

● makes customer service suck less. With an end-to-end chatbot platform that can build, manage, and optimize 1:1 communication with customers at scale, Reply works with major brands and retailers to make customer service more manageable and efficient through messaging. Reply partnered with R/GA and the Ad Council to power GoVoteBot.

Throughout the program, each company received customized support from R/GA and Westfield Labs, as well as input and collaboration from program partners including Macy’s, Shopify Plus, Bank of America Merchant Services, Verizon, and Walmart. The program emphasized opportunities for business development and pilots with the program partners and their networks, enabling participants to develop new business models and actionable paths to market.

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