Press releases

John Lewis announces five finalists for JLAB technology incubator

Tuesday 27 May 2014

John Lewis today reveals the five startup businesses who have made it to the final stage of JLAB, the retailer's first-ever technology business incubator. From 3D room planners and in-store digital engagement to wireless sound systems and smart labels for after-sales care, the five finalists represent a range of innovative ideas with the potential to shape the shopping experience of the future.

The five JLAB finalists are:

  • Localz, in-store digital engagement
  • Musaic, wireless sound system for smart homes
  • SpaceDesigned, online 3D room planning
  • Tap2Connect, smart labelling for after-sales care
  • Viewsy, in-store digital engagement


The final five were selected by the JLAB panel, comprising of John Lewis representatives, technology entrepreneur and JLAB partner Stuart Marks* and a selection of external mentors, following a pitch day on 20 May. The five startup companies will now be given dedicated office space at JLAB's London hub, located within Level39, as well as initial funding of £12,500, access to John Lewis proprietary technology (platforms, data, APIs etc.) and access to the full mentor panel, which includes experts such as Luke Johnson, Chairman of Risk Capital Partners, and Sarah Murray OBE, founder of confused.com, alongside a range of John Lewis leaders. JLAB will be situated in Level39's High Growth Space, which is based on the 42nd floor of Canary Wharf's iconic One Canada Square building.

Following a 12-week incubation period, the JLAB panel will select a winning company who will receive up to £100,000 in further investment and the chance to trial their solution in-store. Should this be a success, their solution may be implemented across the John Lewis estate.

Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis, said: 'Innovation is at the heart of John Lewis Partnership's DNA, in our 150th year I am delighted that we will be working with some of the best technology innovators to develop better products and better customer service. We're confident that the JLAB finalists each have an idea with real potential to either improve the shopping experience or offer customers something new to use in the home. I really feel that if our Founder Spedan Lewis were alive today he would be starting a tech incubator.'

Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and partner in JLAB, said: 'We were very pleased with the quality of companies that attended the pitch day.  We are certain that the companies that we have selected will thrive at JLAB over the summer and benefit from the exceptional mentoring team and access to the John Lewis business.  Every company has the potential to win and it will be exciting to watch how they develop.'

JLAB will officially open on Monday 9 June. Further information on each JLAB finalist can be found below. For more information, please visit www.jlab.co.uk.

Localz

Headed up by co-founders Tim Andrew, Pete Williams and Melvin Artemas, Localz is an in-store digital engagement system which uses proximity and iBeacon technology. Currently, retailers don't know when their best online shoppers arrive at a real life store. Localz is designed to let retailers know they have arrived as they walk through the door.

A demo video with further information on Localz can be viewed at vimeo.com.

Musaic

Musaic is a wireless sound system designed to integrate fully with today's smart home. Founders Matthew Bramble, Simon Grabowski and Carolyn Van Dongen have created a wireless Hi-Fi system that can stream music from any platform to multiple rooms in a house.

A demo video with further information on Musaic can be viewed on youtube.

SpaceDesigned

SpaceDesigned, from co-founders Nicholas and Diane Shaw, is an online app which allows consumers to accurately create and view virtual 3D versions of rooms in their house. They can then add potential new furniture purchases and see how they might fit in.

A demo video with further information on SpaceDesigned can be viewed on youtube.

Tap2Connect

Tap2Connect, from founder Steve Cooke, is an after-sales service that uses smart labels to increase customer engagement. Smart labels enable consumers and retailers to track a product's lifecycle and make on-going service or repairs easier to handle.

A demo video with further information on Tap2Connect can be viewed on youtube.

Viewsy

Viewsy, founded by Odera Ume-Ezeoke, is an in-store digital engagement system designed to help retailers better understand their customers. In-store sensors track customers' behaviour as they move through the store, allowing retailers to better understand them and to offer them more personalised and efficient services.

A demo video with further information on Viewsy can be viewed at vimeo.com.


*Stuart Marks biog - Stuart founded his first business in 1990 and since then has built up and sold several tech based companies specialising in Big Data. These have ranged from managing customer loyalty programmes, such as the Reward Card, the predecessor of Nectar for Sainsbury's to building complex web interfaces at Module Communications, one of the UK's leading digital media agencies which was sold to Grey Advertising.  In 1999, Stuart founded LSE listed ITIS Holdings which was a very early adopter of crowd sourced GPS data  to provide real time traffic information across Europe. Having sold ITIS to Seattle based INRIX in 2011, Stuart established his own fund which invests in and mentors many startup and growth stage companies in the UK.


Notes to editors

The John Lewis Partnership - The John Lewis Partnership operates 41 John Lewis shops across the UK (31 department stores and 10 John Lewis at home), johnlewis.com, 317 Waitrose shops, waitrose.com and business to business contracts in the UK and abroad. The business has annual gross sales of over £10bn. It is the UK's largest example of worker co-ownership where all 91,000 staff are Partners in the business.

John Lewis - John Lewis, 'Multichannel Retailer of the Year 2014'¹, 'The Nation's Best Retailer'² and 'Best Retailer 2013'³, typically stocks more than 350,000 separate lines in its department stores across fashion, home and technology. Johnlewis.com stocks over 250,000 products, and is consistently ranked one of the top online shopping destinations in the UK. (www.johnlewis.com). John Lewis Insurance offers a range of comprehensive insurance products - home, car, wedding and event, travel and pet insurance and life cover - delivering the values of expertise, trust and customer service expected from the John Lewis brand.

¹ Oracle Retail Week Awards 2014
² Verdict Consumer Satisfaction Awards 2013
³ Which? Awards 2013

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Enquiries

For further information please contact:

Vikki Speed
Press Officer, Corporate and Social Media, John Lewis
Telephone: 020 7931 4921
Email: vikki_speed@johnlewis.co.uk