John Lewis names JLAB technology accelerator shortlist

Department store John Lewis has named the five technology start-ups that have made it to the final stage of its JLAB technology accelerator competition, which is run in partnership with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks and his venture fund, L Marks.

The five start-up companies, one of which is run by three teenagers, were selected to be in with a chance of winning up to 100,000 pounds of venture capital funding and a contract from John Lewis, following a pitch day earlier this month in front of a panel of John Lewis executives and external JLAB mentors including Sara Murray, founder and CEO of Buddi and Indira Thambiah, founder of Silly Point Wines.

One of the finalists is Space Lounges, a start-up run by teenagers Alex Waterhouse, George Streten and James Anderson, which allows users to order from coffee shops through an app on a smartphone.

Another is digital queue management system Qudini, run by Imogen Wethered and Fraser Hardy, which tells customers how long they have to wait for a shop assistant and texts them when one is available.

Peeple is a camera device that replaces the traditional peephole and lets people see on their phone who has arrived at their front door, allowing customers to track deliveries and improve their home security, while Alfred is an app that allows consumers to control all of their smart home devices through an app, and Ikinin is an Italian-designed solar-powered charging cover for iPhones.

2015 finalists named for John Lewis technology accelerator, JLAB

Each start-up company will now be given initial funding and office space within John Lewis's head office for 12 weeks and access to a full panel of John Lewis mentors. A second pitch day in September will crown the final winner of the prize of up to 100,000 pounds of funding.

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."

Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and partner in JLAB, added: 'We were delighted to have so many high quality entrants to JLAB this year and again the standard of pitches was outstanding. It's very hard to choose between the finalists right now, so I'll be watching with interest to see how each finalist develops with the help of the team at John Lewis and our external mentors who like last year are all high calibre and successful entrepreneurs.”

Last year’s winner was beacon and smartphone technology specialist start-up Localz.

JLAB will official begin on July 6.

Image: Qudini


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