Meet the 2023 Target Accelerators Founders in ResidenceJump to content
As a small business owner, getting your brand off the ground and learning how to break onto retail can be intimidating, but a great mentor can make a world of difference in helping nurture and support you during the journey. That’s where our Founders in Residence come in. Carefully selected and each disruptors in their respective industries, our Founders in Residence (FIRs) are an important part of the Target Forward Founders program as they share their advice with the incredible emerging entrepreneurs that make up this year’s Target Forward Founders participants.
Get to know Cora, Denise, and Warren, our 2023 Target Forward Founders FIRs:
TA: How would you describe your brand in one sentence?
Cora: Young King Hair Care is multicultural personal care company for young men, with the mission of redefining male grooming for the next generation.
Denise: Created in 2016 when my daughter was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, Partake works to provide everyone the ability to partake and share in life’s joys — big and small — with super-delicious cookies and breakfast mixes that are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and top 9 allergen-free.
Warren: Bagelista produces authentic New York-style bagels that are half-baked to finish baking at home.
TA: What makes you excited about becoming an FIR?
Cora: Target’s Accelerator programs are near and dear to my heart. Young King was a part of the 2020 Target Takeoff Beauty cohort, and it was a transformational experience for us! The programming, mentorship and connections provided were super impactful, and I’m thrilled to be able to now pay it forward and share the same knowledge and insights I’ve learned through my experience with other founders to help them win!
Denise: As a Black woman in the consumer package goods (CPG) industry, I feel a deep responsibility to open the door wider for entrepreneurs, especially women and people of color. I’m excited to mentor an upcoming group of founders, and provide access to the information I wish I knew 7 years ago and help them avoid some of the missteps I made in the early days of Partake.
Warren: I am a “lifer” in the CPG industry— my family has been building food brands for 50 years. It’s deeply satisfying to impart the knowledge I’ve picked up along the way with the next wave of entrepreneurs embarking on similar journeys.For emerging brands, the beginning can be full of hazards. Founders need to share resources and lessons learned with each other to produce the best odds for success.
TA: How has having a mentor personally helped your brand succeed?
Cora: Learning from those that have walked in your shoes that can help you strategize, brainstorm, and provide guidance is incredibly helpful in navigating the highs and lows that come with entrepreneurship. The journey isn’t an easy one, but it’s helpful when you have a cheerleader and advocate on your side to help you avoid potential pitfalls and accelerate your growth by sharing knowledge and key insights.
Denise: Having a mentor is like having a safety net: someone I can call with questions, share challenges, and also learn from. It’s always nice to have an objective thought partner who has been where you’ve been and can be that voice of reason on this lonely, often unglamorous entrepreneurship journey. I’m beyond thankful for those who have supported and guided me.
Warren: As a founder I’m often wearing too many hats and getting caught up in the nitty-gritty details. Mentors have helped me step back and review the big picture without letting the minutiae cloud important decisions. I try not to make major decisions for our company without consulting certain mentors first. It’s imperative to have a professional sounding board to discuss those significant choices. Oftentimes, there are seasoned CPG veterans who have been through the journey in your exact product category, but perhaps 10-15 years earlier. It’s important to identify and befriend those experts and soak up the knowledge they’ve gained from already solving similar problems we face today. It’s also important to lean on other “founder friends” to compare notes and sympathize with along the journey.
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