Alibaba to launch m-commerce incubator

As it continues to look for new ways to expand its mobile capabilities, Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) is planning to build a startup incubator focused on m-commerce and the mobile Web.

The new project is set to be based in Bangalore, India, and will be launched in partnership with Globals, a mobile and analytics solutions company in the same city. Alibaba founder Jack Ma met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to discuss how the company could contribute to building small business in India, and reportedly spoke with Globals Founder Suhas Gopinath around the same time.

"We met Jack Ma and his team in Delhi on Monday, and we came to an in-principle agreement on the incubator," Gopinath told The Times of India.

The incubator will consist of five startups initially, a few of which Gopinath said have already been identified. The program will last for one year, and is scheduled to start in May or June, with the aim of helping each business scale quickly throughout India and eventually beyond.

For its part, Gopinath said Alibaba will provide mentors for the program and contribute its technology and business expertise wherever possible.

The idea was reportedly the brainchild of Guru Gowrappan, COO and head of product marketing for app search engine Quixey, which Alibaba is invested in. The Chinese e-commerce giant will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on the ventures that come out of the incubator in hopes of leveraging some of them itself. As digital shopping has shifted increasingly toward mobile, Alibaba has been working to transition along with it, investing $575 million in Indian mobile payments company Paytm earlier this year and attracting 240 million users for its mobile wallet platform over the lunar new year.

Alibaba joins a growing list of retailers in establishing technology incubators in India. U.K.-based John Lewis launched a technology incubator there in March 2014, and Target also opened an accelerator progam earlier that year.

For more:
-See this Times of India story

Related stories:
Retailers shift mobile focus from sales to enrichment
SXSW highlights the power of mobile
Mobile payment adoption slower than you think
Target: Mobile is 40% of all digital orders
Social media increasingly leading the m-commerce charge

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