Updated: May 10, 2021
November 11, 2019 (Atlanta, GA) – Five startups focused on innovating the retail industry participated in Silicon Road Ventures’ first Corporate Connect event, a multi-day pitch and demonstration event hosted by Silicon Road to expose investors to new retail technology innovations and establish professional connections.
Investors included teams from The Coca-Cola Company, Aaron’s, Inc. and Porsche USA.
“Corporate Connect is the mechanism by which we are bringing retailers into the ecosystem,” said Sid Mookerji, a successful retail tech entrepreneur and founder of Silicon Road. “We want to enable the success of these startups.”
During one of the event’s sessions at the firm’s Tech Square office, representatives from four startups gave investors a 30-minute tour of their products and services. Rafael de Albuquerque, CEO and founder of Zoox, pitched a customer data collector that leverages existing WIFI networks, and Christian Nelson, a co-founder of TruRating, spoke on the company’s planned multinational expansion and average 90% in-store response rate.
“It’s always about getting to know the customer,” said Michelangelo Ho, the managing director of Silicon Road. “Data, analytics, AI and machine learning all have materialized and permutated across industries such as retail, and that has accelerated getting to know your customer more, driving engagement.”
Other presenting companies included Perch, an interactive retail marketing display pioneer; Cue, a young company that streamlines internal retail operations at call centers; Spoonshot, a tech company that leverages food science and artificial intelligence to predict consumer tastes and food trends.
Graduate school professors from Georgia Tech also gave a brief presentation on the business applicability of blockchain and the resources available from the school.
The investors listened closely to the pitches, occasionally asking questions about how the services could solve some of their own key business problems. At the end of the event, the investors made plans with Silicon Road to connect in a similar capacity on a quarterly basis.
Ultimately, the leadership team at Silicon Road say that evolving customer expectations are the main challenges facing retailers today, and there is a clear need to update traditional brick-and-mortar retail business models. As the process of shopping evolves, companies adapt to new challenges, and they’re increasingly willing to put seed money into innovative solutions from startups.
“Historically, retail has stuck to the old formats,” added Mookerji. “While [the shopping mall] was a great innovation, the shopping cart was a great innovation, nothing has really changed. There’s definitely a lot of opportunity for change, so we’re trying to make that happen.”
Silicon Road, a venture capital fund and accelerator program partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), provides seed money, connections, and other invaluable resources to nascent retail technology startups. The fund has around 40 startups in the program.
The next Corporate Connect will be held in December. Silicon Road is now accepting applications for its next cohort of presenting companies.