Hard to believe that it’s almost the end of another Techstars + Target accelerator season as things culminate with demo day on Oct. 11 at First Avenue in Minneapolis.
First, let’s talk about each of the 10 companies in the program cohort this year…
Air Tailor – (post revenue, B2B) New York City, NY – provides expert alteration and repair services for consumers and retailers.
Broshar: The biggest progress they’ve made this summer is using their platform to hammer out a new customer acquisition model by providing retailers with a tailoring network regardless of their location. They found many retailers either do not offer the service and want to or if they do, they want to outsource that. While they came in with a B2C model, they will come out with a B2B and have some announcements to make around pilots.
BYBE – (post revenue, B2B) Columbus, OH – simplifies digital alcohol promotions for retailers by embedding digital alcohol rebates inside retail applications and websites.
Broshar: This team has really found a massive opportunity to tap into some of the largest marketing budgets in the country — beer, wine and spirits. Those producers currently spend a lot of money but are largely unable to spend it on digital coupons/rebates because it’s a very regulated space especially for national retailers to navigate. The industry had largely given up on it, until now, because BYBE has created a B2B rules engine to ensure compliance, which will enable these marketing dollars to start flowing again. They are seeing validation from large distributors and are in conversations to partner.
Kokko – (post revenue, B2B) San Francisco, CA – is a personalized cosmetic and beauty shopping experience based on color science.
Broshar: They have worked closely with multiple retailers within their beauty department, which is their first vertical. There is a huge opportunity for color commerce, in general, as a huge amount of commerce decisions are made around color matching. Their current pilots will be announced.
Local Crate – (post revenue, B2C) Minneapolis, MN – is the first nationally, local food company by making it easy to cook meals inspired by popular local chefs with seasonal, local ingredients in the comfort of your home.
Broshar: They are experiencing great revenue growth and is now thinking about how to scale nationally at speed since their demand has been proven.
Find Me A Shoe (pre revenue, B2B) – India – offers virtual fitting service for online and offline footwear retailers.
Broshar: They came in, launched during the summer, and has made great traction with their TBA pilots.
Savitude (pre revenue, B2B) – San Francisco, CA – technology provides recommendations on clothes based on a shopper’s body shape.
Broshar: They have really honed in on their value proposition, both for consumers and for retailers to better understand the shapes and sizes of their customers and design around that. They came in with a prototype and have made a ton of progress, with that announced at demo day.
Shopturn (pre revenue, B2B) – New York City, NY – is an on-demand return service for brick & mortar retailers, enabling consumers to return purchases directly from home.
Broshar: They’ve made great progress since arriving with a prototype and a dream. This summer has gotten them through product validation with announcements of their own. Not to be vague, but I don’t want to steal their thunder…
Spotcrowd (pre revenue, B2B) – Belgium – stops shoplifting by using the crowd & existing IP-cameras.
Broshar: They’ve had great growth around camera streams and spotters over this summer and are in talks with a good portion of retailers and other industries, with active pilots happening.
StoryXpress – (post revenue, B2B) India – is a cloud based automated video creation platform for businesses tocreate content quickly and easily.
Broshar: They have a huge opportunity to turn static images into quality videos that help increase conversion. Their main breakthrough this summer is demonstartion of their personalized video service based on past purchase history. They have seen 20x growth in the number of videos created.
Upsie – (post revenue, Both) Minneapolis – is a mobile app that’s disrupting the traditional warranty industry by reinventing and demystifying the warranty experience for customers.
Broshar: I can’t reveal too much on this one, other than to say they have a new way of working with retailers to aquire customers and new warranty plans.
Great, thank you. Will all the companies be announcing their intentions of raising capital?
Broshar: Yes, I believe so.
Two outsiders from the first class — Inspectorio & Branch Messenger — planted a flag in Minnesota after summer, do you anticipate that happening again?
Broshar: Yes, but you’re going to have to wait and see who!
Objectively, what companies do you think have made the most progress from the time they entered to where they are now?
Broshar: haha, that sounds like another way of asking what my favorite child is!? I think a lot of the entrepreneurs came in with their ideas of how they fit into retail and have learned so much about how it actually works, and how to partner with Target and others in the retail industry.
What was different this year vs. the first?
Broshar: the companies are for the most part, earlier stage this year, but put on a better path to growth. We’ve had a bigger emphasis on customer validation and landing first couple of customers, as a result.
What is something you’ve learned now going through it again?
Broshar: So many things…I would say for me this years it’s been more about seeing the forest through the trees…less about the day to day, which can be intense and hectic, but more about where we end up as a group overall when it’s all said and done.
Maybe I’ve developed a different, or higher perspective on things after year two now.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The venue will be more intimate this year at First Avenue and we’re going to literally rock out following the demos with a show by Legitimate Front, which includes two members of Foundry Group: Ryan Mcintyre and Jason Mendelson. Seth Levine will also be there.