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John Lewis invests in tech startups

The John Lewis Partnership has announced a £100,000 investment in two tech startups following 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 recipients of the investment which they will now use to grow their businesses. 

Known as AirBnB for the kitchen table, WeFiFo is a social hub which connects home chefs, supper club hosts and professional chefs with paying guests. As a result of the JLAB 2017 win, WeFiFo are now exploring opportunities to host dining experiences across John Lewis and Waitrose branches as well as other bespoke events.

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. Exaactly are now planning a similar exercise with John Lewis to explore the potential to help guarantee first-time customer delivery success.


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

Waitrose joined John Lewis for the first time this year, broadening opportunities to the food retail sector.

Five startups were whittled down from hundreds of applications 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: “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.”

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