Have a Start-Up? IKEA Wants to Help

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What can an early-stage start-up learn from mega-retailer IKEA? Apparently a lot.

Today, the iconic Swedish company announced the return of its IKEA Bootcamp, a unique program that invites 20 growth-stage start-ups to spend three months working alongside the retailer in Älmhult, Sweden.

When the program first kicked off in 2017, it included just ten start-ups and focused on accelerating the fledgling businesses. While the program's 2019 iteration will still ideally result in growth for the participants, IKEA hopes to uncover partnerships that help them further continue down the path of accessibility and sustainability on a corporate level.

"This second edition of the IKEA Bootcamp is more focused on bridging gaps between IKEA and impactful start-ups solving real-world problems," explains Alex Farcet, IKEA's partner at Rainmaking, a global cooperative of entrepreneurs that helps to manage the program. "We're proud to extend the partnership also to include the retail side of IKEA, which is a meaningful addition to the scope."

The selected start-ups will have the opportunity to work across all areas of the company, ranging from food to product development, depending on their focus.

Last year's participants included start-ups that make electrically conductive paint, produce electric-powered bike trailers for last-mile delivery, and create reusable tote bags in partnership with retailers to give shoppers discounts and other incentives, so it's easy to see how all participants could ultimately benefit IKEA's bottom line.

As for the companies, "we achieved the same conversations in three weeks that would otherwise take 12 months," says Christoph Hantschk, the CEO and co-founder at Goodbag, one of the 2017 participants.

This year's application is open through Dec. 31, 2018.

Laura is a New York City-based freelance writer who writes about travel, food, and design. Her work has appeared in Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, and more. She's a sucker for a good curbside furniture find.

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