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John Lewis chooses three retail tech startups to receive 2016 JLab funding

Department store retailer John Lewis selects three retail tech startups to receive their share of the £200,000 JLab funding pot

John Lewis has selected three retail startups to receive investment following its 2016 summer accelerator JLab.

The department store will provide three of the startups from its 2016 cohort with their share of £100,000 funding, which will be matched by JLab partner firm L Marks.

This totals a £200,000 investment, which will be split between the startups so they can further their businesses.

Paul Coby, CIO, John Lewis Partnership, said: “The three startups we have invested in have the potential and the technology to really excite John Lewis shoppers.  This has been JLab’s most successful year so far because everyone involved, us included, have seen it as an opportunity to learning process.”

The three retail-focused startups selected for the funding are DigitalBridge, Wedding Planner and Link Big.

DigitalBridge, from the Effortless Shopping category, has been in the JLab working on a prototype application to help customers visualise how a retailer’s product will look in the home, and has been awarded £100,000 investment from John Lewis and L Marks.

As part of the programme, DigitalBridge was able to hold an in-store trial of its proposed product, and 100% of participants in the trial said they would be keen to use this in-store tech, with 82% claiming it would make them more likely to buy items when in store. 

Originally from the Simplify My Life category, Wedding Planner will receive £50,000 investment to help further its online service, which allows couples to book all aspects of their wedding through a single platform.

After one month in the JLab, Wedding Planner launched a website co-branded with John Lewis, leading to a 10% increase of suppliers for Wedding Planner’s services in the future.

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Link Big, a tool which allows customers to buy products through social media platform Instagram, was in the Effortless Shopping category and will receive £50,000 of the investment funds.

After a live trial on the John Lewis Instagram feed, there was an increase in the feed’s traffic resulting in a 29% increase of organic traffic in the first month of the trial.

These startups have been chosen to receive further funding after beating 280 applications for JLab in the initial pitching processes.

During the retailer’s third year of running the accelerator, five startups were picked to undergo 10 weeks of intensive development through funding and support from industry mentors.

Ding Labs and Robotical, the two other startups that participated in the 2016 accelerator programme, will work with the John Lewis buying teams to help develop their products to the point they can be taken to market.

Jlab fills a ‘unique niche’

Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and chairman of John Lewis’ JLab partner firm, L Marks, said: “JLab 2016 has built on the successes of the two previous cohorts. The five finalists have all made fantastic progress over the past 10 weeks, helped by engagement from buyers, merchandisers, strategists, innovation and IT experts and many more at John Lewis and our team of first-class external mentors.

“We’ve seen some great results with JLab 2016 so far, and I am looking forward to seeing this continue in the future,” he said.

In the past three years, JLab has focused on finding and developing startups that the retailer believes to have the potential to make a difference to John Lewis and the retail space.

CEO and founder of the 2015 winning startup Peeple, Chris Chuter, said John Lewis had filled a “unique niche” with its Jlab accelerator, and that the programme helped him to better understand how retailers operate.

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