John Lewis’ JLAB announces five start-up finalists for 2015

JLABpitchers_FINAL

John Lewis is focusing on retail services and connected devices in its second annual start-up accelerator program.

The 2015 JLAB finalists include a digital queue management system for stores called Qudini; an app-based coffee shop created by three teenagers called Space Lounges; a platform that allows connected home users to control all of their devices through one portal called Alfred; a camera device that lets you see who is at your front door called Peeple; and a wearables team called Ikinen who have developed the Helios solar-powered cover for iPhone users.

A total of 21 participated in a pitch day earlier this month (as per the above shot). Said Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis: “The five start-ups we’ve chosen certainly demonstrate what a wealth of great ideas there is out there. Each idea has huge potential to bring something new, whether to our customers’ experience of shopping or consumers’ everyday lives.”

Each will be given initial funding and office space within John Lewis’s head office for 12 weeks from early July, and access to a full panel of mentors, of which I am delighted to be one. Look out for my diary entry on the experience later this summer following the second pitch day in September, which will crown the final winner with a prize of up to £100,000 in funding.

The scheme is run in partnership with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks and his venture fund, L Marks. Last year’s winner was beacon-provider Localz.