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Customer science company Dunnhumby has launched Dunnhumby Ventures, a seed-stage investment fund focusing on innovations in retail technology to help fund startups. Average initial investments will range from $100,000 to $500,000, and Dunnhumby Ventures will also provide strategic input and mentorship.
“We are looking for retail’s game changers,” says Dave Balter, global head of investments at Dunnhumby. “Dunnhumby Ventures is a strategic resource to help fund and accelerate innovations, startups, and motivated entrepreneurs with tenacity."
Balter, who will will lead a cross-organizational global team at Dunnhumby Ventures from Boston, is the founder of five companies, including word-of-mouth marketing company BzzAgent, acquired by Dunnhumby in 2011, and Smarterer, an online platform that crowdsources assessment tests for recruiters and job seekers.
One of the first companies selected for Dunnhumby Ventures’ portfolio is InfoScout, a San Francisco-based start-up whose real-time analytics panel gives brands a comprehensive view of customer behavior, by item, across all retailers. The company's mobile apps were developed to incentivize shoppers to share information about their everyday purchases with InfoScout, generating insights for the company's brand clients, which include Procter & Gamble, Nestle and Unilever.
Dunnhumby Ventures’ goal is to play a tangible and collaborative role in retail’s startup ecosystem, according to Balter. “A monetary investment in a startup is certainly helpful, but it’s really the addition of mentorship and strategic guidance that creates the opportunities for growth,” he said. “We want to work closely with these startups, to support the entrepreneur’s transition into a great leader, and to help them deliver scalable business models.”
“The mobile and digital landscape is opening up innumerable innovative ways for customers to find value and convenience,” said Simon Hay, CEO of Dunnhumby Ltd. “We are always looking for creative ways to help them and earn their loyalty."
In addition to InfoScout, Dunnhumby Ventures has also invested in Coherent Path and The Shelf, and is actively evaluating funding opportunities.
Dunnhumby analyzes data and applies insights from more than 400 million customers across the globe to create better customer experiences and build loyalty. It serves a prestigious list of companies including Tesco, The Kroger Co., Coca-Cola, Macy's, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo and Shell.