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Smart peep-hole maker Peeple announced as 2015 Jlab winner

John Lewis accelerator JLab announces Peeple, a smart peep-hole producer, as its 2015 winner

Smart peep-hole maker Peeple has been announced as the winner of the 2015 John Lewis Jlab startup accelerator.

The firm will receive an additional £100,000 in funding as well as a contract to partner with John Lewis to sell its product in the retailer’s stores.

Peeple manufactures software for small cameras that can be attached to existing peep-holes in doors. The product uses home Wi-Fi to alert homeowners when there is activity outside their front door.

After pitching the idea at a session in June 2015, the company – which focuses on internet of things (IoT) technology – was among five startups selected to take part in the 12-week accelerator, where it developed ideas about the UK market and retail space.

“There is an education process that needs to take place before the idea of smarthome devices will really take hold,” said Peeple CEO Chris Chuter. “I think the UK is uniquely positioned here. In the US, the market is saturated and confusing.”

Chuter believes the John Lewis brand can act as a trusted ambassador for the promotion of the smarthome and IoT industry.

“I see John Lewis filling a unique niche here. They are a respected brand that people will listen to. With John Lewis, they can pick a few devices they feel will improve people's lives and educate the UK consumer in a trusted way,” he said.

When Chuter spoke to Computer Weekly before the final round of pitching, he explained the accelerator had given him insight into how retailers operate.

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On a visit to China, he took note of how some big IoT brands were using a retail showroom space to showcase technologies and how they can fit into people’s lifestyles.

Chuter decided the best way to use the John Lewis partnership and brand was to develop “a place to really spend a day in the life of a smarthome”, and educate consumers about smarthome devices.

“Right now, everything is still at an early adopter stage with these gadgets and if you're not an early adopter or don't have someone close telling you to buy this, you're not going to buy it,” he said.

“John Lewis has an opportunity to embrace this and really educate the public while making sales through their retail and online channels.”

Chuter said part of the £100,000 funding provided by John Lewis will be used to manufacture more of the peep-hole devices, and the firm will look into how to expand in the UK after finding great interest for the product in the market.

"Peeple is an innovative product in this year's really hot area of the internet of things," said John Lewis IT director Paul Coby. "We see great opportunities for developing this product into a must-have app and home security device.”

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