John Lewis unveils JLAB 2017 winners

John Lewis is betting on immersive retail experiences and smarter deliveries as it unveils a £100,000 investment in two innovative tech start-ups as part of its JLAB accelerator programme.

The retailer’s innovation partner L Marks will invest an additional £100,000, bringing the total start-up funding to £200,000.

The first start-up receiving funding is WeFIFo, a West Sussex social hub connecting home chefs, supper club hosts and professional chefs with paying guests. As a result of the JLAB 2017 win, WeFiFo is now exploring opportunities to host dining experiences across John Lewis and Waitrose branches. It comes after John Lewis trialled a fully furnished in-store apartment concept offering customers the opportunity to stay overnight and enjoy private dining experiences.

Exaactly has also received an investment from JLAB and L Marks. Based in London, the business has created an intelligent addressing system which aims to put an end to failed deliveries, as it allows customers to provide information about how to find their delivery address and where to leave a parcel when they are not at home.

The winners were chosen from a total of 300 other start-ups by a senior judging panel made up of industry experts from both John Lewis and Waitrose. Five start-ups were shortlisted and spent 12 weeks embedded in the John Lewis Partnership offices, gaining access to insight, data and senior-level mentors, allowing them to develop their business more rapidly than they would have done by operating on their own.

Paul Coby, CIO at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “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.”

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