Caltex Australia has launched Caltex Spark, a 12-week Accelerator Program for startups and entrepreneurs.

Designed in partnership with Australian corporate accelerator Slingshot, the fuel retailer is hoping to “disrupt its own business model and look for ideas to improve convenience, mobility, retail offers and efficiency,” the company said.

“At Caltex our purpose is to make life easier for our millions of customers,” said Caltex Executive General Manager of Convenience Retail Richard Pearson.

“With Spark we’re looking for ideas that do just that – disrupt and challenge our existing model to take us in new directions and drive accelerated future growth.”

The convenience and fuel market is highly competitive, according to Pearson, and in today’s digitally connected and on-demand economy, companies must work harder than ever to win customers.

Through Spark, founders will have access to the scale and experience of Caltex resources, with the reach of over 1,900 retail and convenience locations and over 3 million customers a week as well as the opportunity to work closely with the convenience retail and fuels and infrastructure businesses within Caltex.

Caltex Executive General Manager of fuels and infrastructure Louise Warner said, “Caltex plays a unique role in providing transport fuels and other everyday needs for our broad range of customers across Australia and New Zealand.”

Historically, she said, the company has adapted to consumer needs from the development of cleaner more efficient fuel options, unmanned fuel stops in remote locations through to newer initiatives like retail concept The Foodary and Fuel Pay.

Caltex also plays a key role in servicing small and large businesses across Australia be it in mining, marine, transport or aviation, using its expertise in managing integrated and complex supply chains, particularly in remote locations.

“We are interested in businesses that help us find new ways and connect with our consumer and business customers. We are looking at things like new modes of transport, food on the go and how we can create a frictionless customer experience.”

CEO of Slingshot, Karen Lawson, said Caltex Spark is an opportunity for Caltex Australia to collaborate with the best and brightest Startups, who at the same time can benefit from Caltex’s unique understanding of consumers.

“With the rapid pace of innovation, the possibilities for retailers and fuel suppliers is endless. We’ve already begun to see the impact of ride sharing, autonomous vehicles, drones, easy payments, big data and logistics solutions, but we’ve only really begun to scratch the surface when we consider how these can be harnessed by a business-like Caltex.”

Lawson said with the current price of oil, intensifying environmental concerns and the anticipated arrival of driverless cars, the question we need to answer is ‘what does the future of fuel retailers look like?’

Participants will also have the opportunity to access exclusive Spark partner offers from the world’s biggest technology companies valued over AUD$500,000 including AWS, Adobe, Microsoft BizSpark Plus, IBM, Salesforce, HubSpot, SendGrid, MYOB, Xero and more.

Extracted from Which 50.