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JLab - The retail accelerator for tech startups, by John Lewis

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by Startacus Admin

One of John Lewis’ most prized assets is its innovation and originality. This is especially the case when it comes to advertising, indeed the question “Have you seen the new John Lewis Christmas ad?” was surely one of the most used phrases of the past year… the clever clogs.

But now the team at JL are hoping to conjure up some innovation and excitement of a completely different kind with the launch of their new retail accelerator for tech startups…the JLab John Lewisvery aptly named JLab. The programme is aimed specifically at the development of technologies which will place John Lewis at the forefront of retail experience innovation, with particular focus being placed on technological advancements in shopper experience.

They hope to develop technologies which pull together the customers online and instore experiences, creating a more seamless feel to their shopping with the possibility for a range of in store personalisations… sounds jolly complicated if you ask us.

What are they after?

They have divided the kind of things that they are looking to achieve into 4 categories, which are;

Knowing each other - Technologies which collect and interpret information to increase John Lewis’ knowledge of its customers and vice versa.

Helping customers shop - The development of products that improve one or more aspects of a shopper’s retail experience.

Simplifying customers lives - Solutions that use intelligent communication between products to reduce the amount of time/energy that customers spend using and maintaining their products.

Surprise us - Anything that pleases customers by enhancing their shopping experience and which isn’t covered in the other categories.

What is up for grabs?

The panel will select 5 tech startups to be included in the programme and each will receive;

  • £12,500 investment for 4% of their business
  • Access to John Lewis proprietary technology (Platforms, APIs etc.)
  • Mentorship from John Lewis retail experts to help them build the right product
  • Mentorship from top entrepreneurs
  • Dedicated office space at JLab’s London hub: Level 39 Canary Wharf
  • Guest talks and workshops hosted by inspirational and experienced professionals
  • All participants will also have the opportunity to pitch to an audience of sophisticated investors and venture capitalists at the end of the competition. The winner of JLAB will receive up to £100,000 investment and a chance to supply their innovation to John Lewis… nice!

The Details

Luckily JLab isn’t making this part any more complicated than it needs to be, basically in order to be considered your business must be dedicated to “catapulting” (their word, not ours) the retail experience of customers into the future. They don’t mind where you are based or even what stage your business is at, all they request is that all entrants are at least 18 years of age.

The programme will run from early-July to mid-September 2014 with a well timed break in the middle…applications are now being accepted and the closing date is 17th April so dust off those thinking caps/hats/gloves/chinos and get cracking!

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Published on: 9th March 2014

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