John Lewis invests £100,000 in tech startups

Written by Anthony Strzalek

The John Lewis Partnership has announced a £100,000 investment in two technology startups following their success in the retailer’s fourth annual accelerator programme, JLAB.

JLAB is the largest retail tech accelerator programme in the UK, and its innovation partner L Marks will match the £100,000 investment from John Lewis and Waitrose, bringing the total startup funding to £200,000.

WeFiFo and Exaactly are the two successful JLAB participants who have been awarded the financial investment to help grow their businesses.

WeFiFo is a social hub from West Sussex, which connects home chefs, supper club hosts and professional chefs with paying guests. As a result of their JLAB 2017 win, WeFiFo are now exploring opportunities to host dining experiences across John Lewis and Waitrose branches, as well as other bespoke events which could be introduced to more customers.

Exaactly, based in London, is an intelligent addressing system that aims to put an end to failed deliveries. It allows customers to provide information up front about how to find their delivery address and where to leave a parcel when they are not at home.

During JLAB 2017, Exaactly ran two successful trials with delivery drivers, fulfilling orders to customers: the first with Waitrose groceries and their own fleet; the second in collaboration with parcel carrier Yodel, fulfilling orders for Waitrose speciality shops.

Both startups chosen for investment fought off competition from 300 other businesses, which involved intensive pitch and demonstration days in front of a senior judging panel made up of industry experts from both John Lewis and Waitrose.

Five startups were whittled down from hundreds of applications and they spent 12 weeks embedded in the John Lewis Partnership offices.

Paul Coby, CIO at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “All our finalists have benefitted greatly from unprecedented access to two of the UK’s leading retailers. The wider scope of JLAB this year has allowed us to bring together some of the most exciting emerging technology, not just in retail but across grocery too. It’s never been more important for the John Lewis Partnership to nurture innovation both inside and outside our business and we are looking forward to progressing this talent.”

The three other JLAB 2017 finalists were: Mucho, Journifi and BB1.