Dunnhumby launches fund for retail tech startups

Dunnhumby, a leading customer science company, has launched 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 range from $100,000 to $500,000.

“We are looking for retail’s game changers,” said 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, startup investor and adviser, 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 adviser 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 startup. 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. 

“Funding from Dunnhumby Ventures is a clear signal to the market that our company is helping shape the future of shopping,” said Jared Schreiber, founder of InfoScout. “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.” 

“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 throughout the last 24 years from a startup itself to 2,200 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. 

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. The company employs more than 2,000 employees in offices throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, and serves a list of companies which includes Tesco, the Kroger Co., Coca-Cola, Macy's, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo and Shell.  

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