Now Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten wants to back Indian startups, launches social accelerator

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Published: June 18, 2019 9:17:07 PM

A team of 20 employees from Rakuten over next five months of the programme will provide technical expertise to create comprehensive applications to help these startups grow.

Rakuten Social Accelerator is launched at the company’s Development and Operations Center in Bengaluru.

Following global corporations’ including Google, Microsoft, Target, PayPal footsteps to support Indian startups via incubator or accelerator model, Japan’s e-commerce major Rakuten has now extended its support through its social accelerator programme — Rakuten Social Accelerator with its launch at the company’s Development and Operations Center in Bengaluru. Rakuten had launched the accelerator in Japan last year.

As part of its initial lot of startups this year, Rakuten has picked three non-profit startups including Robin Hood Army (working to eliminate food wastage and hunger), Wildlife SOS (protecting wildlife and creating sustainable livelihoods for poacher communities) and Samarpana Charitable Trust for The Disabled (empowering visually impaired people), the company said in a statement. Rakuten will offer its global portfolio of online services and brand visibility along with access to industry talent.

Through the social accelerator, the company is looking to “solve crucial social challenges by partnering with entrepreneurs who are passionate about creating tangible impact,” said Narendra Narayana, Chief Operating Officer, Rakuten India.

A team of 20 employees from Rakuten over next five months of the programme will provide technical expertise to create “comprehensive applications” to help these startups grow.

Rakuten has grown in its portfolio of services offered across e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications. The company has over 1.2 billion members globally and has operations in 30 countries.

Rakuten online marketplace was launched over two decades ago but gradually lost to Amazon that launched in Japan in 2000. Hence, Rakuten focused and relied on financial services including credit cards and online banking to scale, Bloomberg had reported last year.

“The idea is not to try to win with any particular service alone, but rather by combining them together,” Rakuten’s Chief Operating Officer Kentaro Hyakuno had told Bloomberg adding that it’s OK to be No. 2 if your combined lifetime customer value is higher than that of your competitors.

The company had last year set up its research institute in India called Rakuten Institute of Technology — first in India and sixth in the world that “combines creativity and innovation with emerging technologies to fuel the growth of e-commerce,” the company had said.

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