Inside Our New Tech Incubator in Austin, Texas

By David Schrag
February 26, 2018
Spark sign outside Walmart’s new technology incubator in Austin, Texas

When Rachel Brynsvold wakes up every morning, she’s excited to see what she can learn and achieve.

That’s because Rachel is a data scientist, and her job at Walmart’s new technology incubator in Austin, Texas, is allowing her to invent the future of shopping.

“Effective use of technology is an absolute competitive necessity today, but even the most sophisticated technology can end up being a hindrance when built without first considering the users,” Rachel said. “We must develop best-in-class technology and deliver it with a focus on what the business and the users need.”

Rachel, along with her peers of engineers, developers and scientists, get to do that on a daily basis. They’re hyperfocused on emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence and natural language processing to make Walmart more efficient – all aimed at empowering Walmart associates with the right tools to better serve customers.

“The work we’re doing is ultimately about enabling our coworkers to be even more impactful in their jobs, which is something that always gets me excited. I also see lots of opportunities to make financial impact for the company, which contributes to Walmart’s mission to help people save money and live better,” said Rachel.

Austin was picked as the location of the company’s first technology incubator because it’s one of the top cities in the world for tech. The building first opened in December 2017 to prepare for the official grand opening Feb. 22, and features a startup-like working environment to encourage collaboration and innovative thinking. This open, old warehouse environment in the heart of downtown is particularly appealing to the generation of technologists just entering the workforce.

“The coolest and most exciting thing to me so far has been the sheer scale of the data that we have to work with and the compute resources (infrastructure resources used for cloud processing) that we have available. I am routinely encountering data sets that are measured in terabytes – it is difficult to comprehend that amount of information! The combination of that amount of data and the availability of powerful compute resources means tremendous opportunity for me to do some truly cutting-edge data science work,” Rachel said.

The Austin incubator team will be partnering closely with our technology teams in Bentonville, Arkansas, at our Jet headquarters in Hoboken, New Jersey, and at our Walmart.com headquarters in San Bruno, California. As the teams design the future, the technology will be used to compete with companies beyond the retail landscape, but the associates who are empowered to deliver the future of shopping will set the company apart.

“Every day has its own excitements, challenges and things that pop up,” Rachel said. For me, the variety keeps it interesting and fun.”
Looking for tech jobs like these? Check out our careers site to see what positions are currently available.