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Target Setting Up Incubator In India

target_logoAmerican retail company Target is planning to set up an incubator in Bangalore by early 2014 to fuel its software applications and back-office projects, reports TechCrunch. The accelerator will be managed by Lalit Ahuja, who also helped the retailer set up its technology captive centre in Bangalore few years ago and runs an accelerator of his own called Kyron, which will run the programme for Target in India.

Kyron was launched in 2012 with a funding of $50 million by Swiss Venture Capitalist John Cook and French-American VC Larry Glaeser and offered $100,000 in seed funding and access to resources in return for up to a 10 % equity. Earlier this month Arjuman Amjad, a member of Kyron founding team told Techcircle that its mission is to  incubate 560 companies across the globe by 2020, of these 300 will be from India.

As part of the program Target will pick 1-2 product startups every year and give them up to $30,000 (includes cash and operational expenses). Target has not yet made up its mind whether it should ask for equity stakes or not in return for investment in these startups.

Target has invited Dataweave, a Bangalore-based startup focused on big data analytics that received seed funding of Rs 1.5 crore from Blume VenturesTLabs (Times Internet), 5ideas Startup Superfuel, Meta Studio Advisors and a group of angels. DataWeave had previously joined TLabs  in February 2012 and had also raised funding. Its services are targeted at e-commerce companies, OTAs, app developers, market research companies, data driven companies, content driven companies, among others. The company has another product,  PriceWeave, a competitive intelligence product for e-retailers, brands, and manufacturers and it contributes to maximum revenue for the company.

Tookitaki, a social targeting and ad optimization platform has also been invited to be part of Target’s incubator. It had raised $200,000 from  a group of investors including Blume Ventures, India Internet Group, Harvard Angels and Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) Ahmedabad. Its technology queries data points from social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, among others to find purchasing patterns of consumers on the web. Based on this data, consumers are grouped to map behavioural patterns in real-time using machine learning techniques for clients to target these groups with ads on different online platforms.

The accelerator will help Target identify potential M&A targets at early, cheap valuations according to the report. There are several other companies working on big data in India currently such as Nexus Venture Partners backed Indix that launched its SaaS and big data product intelligence platform for brand managers, price analysts, retail merchandisers and product managers in October.  MasterCard Advisors, a division of MasterCard had acquired an undisclosed stake  in Mu Sigma, an analytics and decision sciences firm to develop analytics products, that combines aggregated and anonymous purchase behaviour insights with Mu Sigma’s advanced analytics.

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There are also startups such as Qubole, a cloud data platform that provides data management, analysis and business insight launched by former Facebook engineers. The startup was included in Microsoft accelerator in February this year and had raised funds from Light Speed Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Anand Rajaraman, and Venky Harinarayan.

Target had set up a captive technology center in Bangalore in 2005 to support several of its retail processes in the US and also develop custom applications. It also led the development of Target.com and even helped the retailer with its Canada launch.

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