Boston-based dunnhumby Ventures has launched today to make seed-stage investments in retail technology. Managing the fund is entrepreneur and angel investor Dave Balter, global head of investments at parent company dunnhumby. Balter, who has founded word-of-mouth marketing company BzzAgent (which was bought by dunnhumby) and other startups, currently serves as a venture partner at Boston Seed Capital and a mentor with TechStars. Balter told peHUB that the seed-stage fund amount is undisclosed, but he expects the fund will make 10 investments a year for three years, with average deal size and follow-ons between $250,000 and $500,000. The firm has already made five seed investments, including The Shelf and InfoScout. More information is available on dunnhumby’s website. “Crazy, innovative things are happening in retail, from pricing to promotion to the customer experience,” Balter told peHUB. “The retail experience is in a state of change and these startups we’re investing in are in the thick of it.”
DUNNHUMBY VENTURES LAUNCHES TO ACCELERATE INNOVATION IN RETAIL TECH START-UPS
Dave Balter to Lead Seed-Stage Investment Fund; Seeking Remarkable, Data-Driven Startups Who Will Change the Future of Retail
BOSTON, MA – September 24, 2013 – dunnhumby, the world’s leading customer science company, today announced the launch of dunnhumby Ventures, a seed-stage investment fund focusing on innovations in retail technology. dunnhumby Ventures will serve as a support mechanism for innovators, helping to fund startup businesses that are embracing data for innovations along the consumer’s path to purchase. dunnhumby Ventures will also provide strategic input and mentorship. Average initial investments will be $100,000-$500,000.
“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. We want to partner with those who are willing to do something no one has done before. We want nothing less than to reinvent retail.” Balter, a longtime entrepreneur, start-up investor and advisor, will lead a cross-organizational global team at dunnhumby Ventures from Boston. Balter 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. He is currently a venture partner at Boston Seed Capital, a mentor with TechStars, and is an investor and advisor to dozens of startups including Promoboxx, FitnessKeeper and ProctorCam.
One of the first companies selected for dunnhumby Ventures’ portfolio is InfoScout, a San Francisco-based start-up. InfoScout’s real-time analytics panel gives brands a comprehensive view of customer behavior, by item, across all retailers. The company’s popular mobile apps 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. Jared Schreiber, founder of InfoScout, says: “Funding from dunnhumby Ventures is a clear signal to the market that our company is helping shape the future of shopping. More than that, the investment dunnhumby Ventures is making in terms of lending their insights, expertise and retail connections to us are invaluable to this business. We’re thrilled to have a company of dunnhumby’s caliber on our side in such a meaningful, powerful way.”
“With dunnhumby Ventures, our goal is to play a tangible and collaborative role in retail’s startup ecosystem,” notes 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. 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.” dunnhumby, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tesco PLC, leverages a database of shopping behavior for more than 400 million households worldwide and partners with retailers and brands around the world to better understand their customers, identify trends and opportunities to deliver value through that data and insight. “dunnhumby Ventures will leverage dunnhumby’s unique data assets and customer science expertise to help us identify opportunities – and the startups that are aligning with those opportunities,” said Balter. “We will also use dunnhumby Ventures as a test and learn environment for scaling business models.”
“The mobile and digital landscape is opening up innumerable innovative ways for customers to find value and convenience. We are always looking for creative ways to help them and earn their loyalty. The explosion of data is introducing many new opportunities for us to do this,” said Simon Hay, CEO of dunnhumby Ltd. “dunnhumby has grown over the last 24 years from a start-up itself to 2200 employees in 28 countries through innovation and reinventing business models. We are looking for innovative thinkers that are using data to create the shopping experiences of the future, today.”
In addition to InfoScout, dunnhumby Ventures has also invested in Coherent Path and The Shelf, and is actively evaluating funding opportunities. Interested entrepreneurs and startups can contact dunnhumby Ventures through http://dunnhumby.com/ventures.
About dunnhumby ltd.:
dunnhumby is the world’s leading customer science company. We analyse data and apply insights from more than 400 million customers across the globe to create better customer experiences and build loyalty. Our insights and strategic process help clients create competitive advantage and enjoy sustained growth. dunnhumby employs more than 2,000 employees in offices throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, and serves a prestigious list of companies including Tesco, The Kroger Co., Coca-Cola, Macy’s, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo and Shell. For more information, please visit us at www.dunnhumby.com.
About dunnhumby Ventures:
dunnhumby Ventures is an early stage investment fund focusing on innovations in retail. We fund and accelerate startup businesses that are embracing data for innovations along the customer’s path to purchase. Backed by the global leader in customer science and a database of shopping behavior for more than 400 million households worldwide, dunnhumby Ventures is looking to break all the rules and lead innovations that change the future of retail. Please visit us at http://dunnhumby.com/ventures.