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Can venture funds help retailers keep up with technology?




August 8, 2022

Ulta Beauty has become the latest retailer to officially launch a Digital Innovation Venture Fund. The fund will invest his $20 million in startups that unlock new technologies that drive better discovery, personalization, and convenience.

Prisma Ventures, which was privately announced at Ulta’s 2021 Investor Day, is investing in five companies., a B2B SaaS tool that analyzes customer skin with AI Adeptmind, an e-commerce search engine that uses AI Adeptmind, a skin care company that uses personal analysis and machine learning to customize skin care Revea, an eyelash extension robot, ReStyle Virtual machine hair fitting start

In addition to capital, fund participants will have access to Ultas’ innovation team, consumer insights and market testing opportunities.

Prama Bhatt, chief digital officer at Ulta, said in a statement that he believes the fund will provide an opportunity for creative disruptors to push the industry even further. We build lasting relationships with startups, welcome them into our ecosystem, co-create and experiment in ways that leverage each other’s expertise, and ultimately leverage our resources to bring the next generation of retail and beauty to life. I started to imagine and rethink., among other retailers, launched the $1 billion Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund in April to drive and support innovation in customer fulfillment, logistics and supply chain.

Also in April, Chipotle launched a $50 million Cultivate Next fund focused on restaurant innovation. In May, Home Depot launched his $150 million Home Depot Ventures fund to identify, fund, and partner with early-stage companies to improve the customer experience and shape the future of home renovation. Accelerated emerging technologies aimed at shaping.

Other retailers with Digital Innovation Funds include CVS Health, Alimentation Couche-Tard and Albertsons.

A still popular route for exploring emerging technologies is strategic collaboration. Kroger said in March he partnered with Nvidia to build an AI-powered lab and demonstration center.

Walmart, Amazon, and Nike stand out for making numerous acquisitions to expand their digital capabilities. Earlier this year, Nike announced plans to open an Atlanta Technology Center focused on supply chain, cybersecurity and AI.

Nike Global CDIO Ratnakar Lavu wrote on LinkedIn:

Discussion question: What is driving the apparent trend for retailers to set up venture funds to invest in digital startups? What are the advantages and disadvantages compared to strategic partnerships or outright acquisitions? mosquito?

brain trust

“I may be naive, but I see this as a way to engage with the next generation of customers and innovators and help traditional executives see exactly the pulse of innovation.”

“These are mutually beneficial relationships for both parties, and ultimately for the end consumer as well.”

“One big downside is, as most VCs say, a lot of these investments fail.”




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