John Lewis crowns tech startup Localz as the winner of JLAB
John Lewis has confirmed that a startup business specialising in micro-location technology has become the first winner of the retailerÂ’s JLAB technology business incubator.
After 12 weeks of developing its ideas within JLAB, Localz was chosen by the judging panel to win a £100,000 investment as well as the chance to trial its technology with John Lewis.
The retailer said Localz’s technology will give customers the opportunity to take advantage of some enhanced services using their smartphone based on their precise location. For example, it could automatically offer to trigger a customer’s Click & Collect order to be picked as they enter the shop to speed up the collection or help customers to navigate their way around one of the shops based on their online wish list.
Paul Coby, IT director at John Lewis, said: “Innovation is at the heart of John Lewis and JLAB, our first tech incubator, has given us a new way to explore the technologies that will change how we all shop in the future. It’s been a hugely rewarding and educational experience, drawing on a diverse group of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives, and we have a very worthy winner who we’re looking forward to working with in the months ahead. I do very much believe that this is what our founder Spedan Lewis would be doing if he was around today.”
The initial entry period for JLAB saw hundreds of startups apply to take part, pitching their ideas for innovations that could shape the future of the retail experience. In May, Localz was picked as a finalist alongside startup businesses Musaic, SpaceDesigned,Tap2Connect and Viewsy.
Over a 12-week period based in Level 39 at Canary Wharf, the five finalists developed their ideas with the assistance of mentors from John Lewis as well as entrepreneurs such as Luke Johnson, chairman of Risk Capital Partners, Sara Murray OBE, founder of confused.com and Buddi, and Bindi Karia, vice president entrepreneur banking at Silicon Valley Bank.
Stuart Marks, partner in JLAB, said: “The quality of entries was exceptionally high and picking a winner proved to be a very difficult process. I am sure all the companies will go on to become very successful but there has to be a winner and in this case we felt that Localz has the potential to become a long term partner to John Lewis and to provide continuous innovation for their customers. We were fortunate to have an exceptional mentoring team who allowed all the companies to achieve their true potential during the time they were at JLAB.”
Tim Andrew, commercial director and co-founder of Localz, added: "JLAB has been an amazing experience for Localz from start to finish. The fact that my father was a Partner with John Lewis for over 30 years gave me a very personal reason to want to be a part of it, in order to try and help the company that supported me and my family when I was growing up.
"The support and guidance that John Lewis provided throughout the incubation period helped us refine our offering for the European market. They also gave us access to successful entrepreneurs and mentors from diverse backgrounds and industries which allowed us to accelerate our development."
Localz’s plans for the £100k investment will focus on its new UK operations. The company will be further developing its technology in conjunction with John Lewis and preparing to launch live trials in store.
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