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Target welcomes new class to accelerator program


The newest batch of start-ups are making their way to Minneapolis for the second annual Target + Techstars retail accelerator program.

After receiving applications from more than 3,000 technology start-ups — 70% of which had a co-founder who is either female or comes from an ethnically diverse background — Target whittled the list down to 10 finalists for this year’s tech accelerator. Companies range from online advertising to rebates to clothing alterations, and hail from Minneapolis to as far as Belgium.

During the next 13 weeks, these 10 companies will be mentored on how to validate their ideas and turn them into concepts that can impact the retail industry, according to Target.

Here are this year’s 10 finalists:

Air Tailor: Based in New York, Air Tailor delivers clothing alterations on demand via text.

Bybe: This company simplifies digital alcohol promotions for retailers by embedding beer, wine and spirits rebates inside retail applications and websites.

Find Me A Shoe: A startup from Target’s India Accelerator Program, Find Me a Shoe is a footwear recommendation app that assists users in finding their best-fitting shoe.

Kokko: This female-led company provides color matching technology that acts as a shopper’s personal, unbiased makeup adviser, according to founder Nina Bhatti.

Local Crate: This Minneapolis-based company features weekly meal kits comprised of recipes and pre-portioned, locally sourced ingredients.

Savitude: A SaaS-based product that resides on retailer websites, Savitude integrated IBM Watson’s visual recognition technology to help users find apparel that best suits their body type.

Shopturn: In effort to improve the returns process, ShopTurn is an on-demand return service that enables shoppers to return items to brick-and-mortar retailers — directly from their home.

SpotCrowd: This New York-based company provides a machine learning-based online security platform that connects existing retail security cameras, making it easier for retailers to catch shoplifters.

StoryXpress: Hailing from India, StoryXpress helps retailers convert images, text and video clips into promotional video ads.

Upsie: This Minneapolis-based company offers an app that enables shoppers to digitally buy warranties for their electronics, accessories and appliances.

While on site at Target headquarters, the startups will have access to a range of more than 120 mentors who will provide feedback, answer questions and offer advice to foster the startups' growth and development. Among those who signed up to advise this year’s group include Target’s CEO Brian Cornell, chief merchandising officer Mark Tritton and chief human resources officer Stephanie Lundquist.

Like last year’s inaugural program, Target’s 2017 accelerator is run in collaboration with experts at Techstars. The session will end with a Demo Day in October. Here, participating startups will present their work to a Twin Cities audience of Target team members and the greater tech community.

“Target’s long history of creativity and invention is rooted in our ability to spot breakthrough ideas that can make Target better for guests,” said Pam Tomczik, VP corporate development. “The goal of the Target + Techstars retail accelerator is to uncover, validate and scale those ideas by helping startups bring new products and experiences to retail.”
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