“Our hope is to invest and from there, figure out how to create value with the company,” he said. From the startups’ perspective, value comes in the form of dunnhumby’s existing relationships, analytics and consumer data insights, he said. “As part of the investment, we take equity but we don’t force upon the company a need to work with us,” although that would be a viable path for both the startup and investor.
Dunnhumby was looking to fill a gap in strategic investment funds with a commerce focus. The investment fund is nothing new – everyone from AOL to Bertelsmann has one -- but in the retail realm, Commerce Ventures has little to no company, and dunnhumby saw a wide-open opportunity.
Dunnhumby Ventures has placed a stake in its earliest round of startups, which include InfoScout, Coherent Path and The Shelf; all share a recurring theme of helping “personalize the shopping experience” with a dose of “an understanding that data and analytics will help inform more loyal customers.”