John Lewis has announced the five technology start-ups who have made it to the final stage of JLAB, the retailer’s technology accelerator program.
JLAB is run in partnership with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks and his venture fund L Marks, and will give the winning start-up £100,000 in funding.
The five start-up companies, one of which is run by three teenagers aged 18 and under, were picked following a pitch day on Thursday June 4th.
From July 6th each will battle it out over the summer – using space in John Lewis’ head office for 12 weeks and access to a panel of John Lewis mentors – for the chance to win the prize of funding and a contract from John Lewis.
A second pitch day in September will crown the final winner of the prize of up to £100,000 funding.
The five finalists are Qudini, Peeple, Alfred, Space Lounges and Ikinen.
Qudini is a digital queue management solution that tells you how long you have to wait for a shop assistant and texts you when one is available.
Peeple is a camera device that replaces the traditional peephole and lets you see who’s arrived at your front door on your phone, allowing you to track deliveries or improve your home security.
Then there’s Alfred, an app that allows consumers to control all of their smart home devices through a phone, tablet or laptop, while Space Lounges is run by three teenage start-ups – it’s an app for use in coffee shops and cafes that allows the user to purchase any item in a physical location in one tap on their smartphone.
Finally, Ikinen is an Italian-designed solar-powered cover for iPhone users unsatisfied with their battery life.
The five finalists were selected by a panel of John Lewis executives including Johnathan Marsh, Director of Electrical Home Technology, Sarah Venning, Director of IT Strategy, and John Vary, IT Innovation Manager. They were also selected by external JLAB mentors including Sara Murray, founder and CEO of Buddi and Indira Thambiah, founder of Silly Point Wines.
Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis, said: ‘Innovation is in John Lewis’ DNA and we want to work with tech start ups to define the future of retail.
"The five start-ups we’ve chosen certainly demonstrate what a wealth of great ideas there is out there. Each idea has huge potential to bring something new, whether to our customers’ experience of shopping or consumers’ everyday lives.
"I am looking forward greatly to working with each of the finalists over the summer to help them move their ideas closer to reality, and to share the values of the John Lewis Partnership with them."