by Katharine Grayson

Twin Cities startups Local Crate and Upsie are among 10 companies accepted into the Target+Techstars Retail Accelerator’s second class.

The accelerator — a partnership between Minneapolis-based Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) and Boulder, Colo.-based Techstars — announced the startups picked for its 2017 program Monday. Participants will receive seed funding from Techstars, plus mentorship from Target executives, entrepreneurs and other advisers.

Minneapolis-based Upsie makes a mobile app that lets consumers compare, buy and track extended-service warranty plans. Local Crate, meanwhile, offers a meal-kit subscription service. The Minneapolis-based company’s ingredient boxes and recipes are built around locally sourced ingredients.

The accelerator reviewed 3,000 startups before selecting the final group of companies, said Ryan Broshar, who leads the program on behalf of Techstars. More than 70 percent of the companies have a co-founder who is either female or comes from an ethnically diverse background, he said.

Participating startups will move to Minneapolis and work out of space at Target’s headquarters for three months.

The accelerator didn’t pick any Minnesota companies for its first class, though two participants ultimately relocated to the Twin Cities: Branch Messenger, which makes a worker-scheduling app, and Inspectorio, which makes supply-chain inspection technology. Companies in the accelerator’s first class have gone on to raise $32 million in outside capital, Broshar said. (Inspectorio raised a $3.7 million round of funding led by Target.)

Broshar said he’s been excited to see the program draw investors to the Twin Cities who then go on to back companies not connected to the accelerator.

Target has killed off several tech-centered innovation efforts over the past year, including its online marketplace startup code named Goldfish, its store-of-the-future project and a food innovation lab. Broshar said such changes haven’t dampened Target’s enthusiasm for the Techstars program. An array of Target executives, including CEO Brian Cornell, are expected to serve as mentors.

“From our perspective, it’s all systems go,” Broshar said. “Seeing another successful class go through Techstars is a big priority for the innovation team.”

In addition to Local Crate and Upsie, the participants in the accelerator’s second class are:

  • Air Tailor, a New York-based provider of clothing-alteration services. Instead of visiting a bricks-and-mortar tailor, users text alteration requests and drop their clothes in the mail.

  • Bybe Inc., which makes a mobile app retailers use to promote their beer and alcohol offerings

  • Kokko Inc., a Los Altos, Calif.-based company that makes an app for selecting makeup shades based on skin tone

  • Savitude Inc., a Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of an app that uses artificial intelligence to recommend clothing based on body shape

  • ShopTurn, a New York-based company that makes an app retailers use to let consumer return purchased items without having to visit a store; the app arranges for someone to pick up items-to-be-returned directly from the customer.

  • SpotCrowd, a Belgium-based startup that makes facial-identification technology

  • StoryXpress, a startup based in India that makes technology for creating video advertisements

  • Find Me a Shoe, a West Sacramento, Calif.-based company that makes an app for recommending shoes


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