jlab
JLAB's 2017 finalists.
Rebecca Wayman

The John Lewis Partnership invests in two startups following accelerator programme

The John Lewis Partnership has announced today (November 27) a £100k investment in two tech startups following success in the retailer’s annual accelerator programme, JLAB.

JLAB, now in its fourth year, is the largest retail tech accelerator programme in the UK, and its partner L Marks, will match the £100k investment from John Lewis and Waitrose, bringing the total startup funding to £200k.

WeFiFo and Exaactly will receive this financial investment to expand the businesses. WeFiFo is a social hub from West Sussex, connecting the likes of home chefs with guests; whereas Exaactly, in London, is aiming to end all failed postage deliveries in the country.

Seni Glaister, CEO and co-founder of WeFiFo, said: “Accessing the expertise of John Lewis and Waitrose Partners through JLAB was a real privilege for WeFiFo and securing their backing is certainly the most significant milestone in our journey so far.

“We were inspired by the people we worked with and were very fortunate to discover so much shared purpose and passion. We used our time with JLAB to cement strong foundations and we will now build on these as we enlist the help of the partnership in our search for and celebration of the country’s most talented home cooks.”

Both startups chosen for investment won against 300 other businesses and involved pitch and demonstration days in front of a senior judging panel from both John Lewis and Waitrose, which joined John Lewis for the first time this year.

Bea Warner, co-founder and CEO of Exaactly, also commented: “JLAB has given us a peek behind the curtain of two of the country’s biggest retailers and an invaluable insight into how they handle delivery.

“The opportunity to run two pilots across the Partnership has equipped us with the product know-how we needed to make that final mile of delivery even more straightforward for consumers and retailers. The investment signifies a big step for our business as we prepare for a full launch to market in early January 2018.”

Five startups were chosen from hundreds of applications and spent 12 weeks embedded in the John Lewis Partnership offices, gaining access to insight, data and senior-level mentors.

Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and chairman of L Marks, added: “It’s very easy for corporate acceleration to become an internal passion project, operating in silo in a corner of an organisation.

“JLAB’s fourth year has produced one of the most ambitious accelerator programmes I have ever been involved in.”

The three other JLAB 2017 finalists were Mucho, BB1 and Journifi.

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