What AmEx start-up initiative is seeking to fund

Bambi Francisco Roizen · April 9, 2012 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/2550

Managing Partner Harshul Sanghi sits down with Bambi Francisco


If you've got a payments or mobile payments company, or even a company that can help drive engagement, you might want to tee up a conversation with Harshul Sanghi, Managing Partner at American Express Ventures, who heads up American Express' Digital Commerce Start-up initiative. This initiative, which was launched this past November, is designed to invest $100 million in start-ups in the payment space as a way to help AmEx innovate beyond its traditional credit-card business.

In this interview with Harshul Sanghi, the second in our two-part series, Sanghi talks about what he and his team are looking for specifically.

Here are highlights of Sanghi's answers (slightly edited):

- AmEx plans to invest in a "handful" of companies a year. Don't expect them to make 80 investments, like Google Ventures.

- Within the digital commerce space, AmEx is interested in start-ups that can help develop targeted marketing/advertising, including rewards and offers to consumers. AmEx is also interested in making it contextualized by mining the social graph and taking into geography/location into consideration. Point-of-sale products, such as the one developed by Square, could also be an interesting area to explore, as long as AmEx feels it improves the user experience and makes transacting more secure and faster.

- AmEx will invest between $2 million and $5 million in each start-up. 

Watch the rest of the interview to hear how Harshul differentiates AmEx's initiative from other venture outfits in the Valley, and why it's not only a financial resource but a strategic one. 

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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Harshul Sanghi

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Harshul Sanghi is the managing partner of American Express Ventures, Enterprise Growth at American Express, with extensive corporate venture and mobile experience and relationships.