Today High Street department store John Lewis has become the latest brand to jump into the startup accelerator space with the launch of JLAB. The project is on the hunt for five early-stage tech startups in the ecommerce, mobile and retail space, who will each be granted office space within Canary Wharf’s Level 39, plus mentoring and support over the course of the 15 week programme.
Aside from business support, successful applicants will get a £12,500 investment in their business from John Lewis, in exchange for 4% equity. Once the accelerator is concluded, participants will get the opportunity to pitch to high-profile investors and VCs. The business deemed to have put together the best product will receive up to £100,000 of additional investment from John Lewis, and have the chance to test their service in stores.
Entrepreneur Stuart Marks, who is serving as partner at JLAB, said:
“We have crafted something unique in the UK retail sector that will give businesses access to the best mentors and an environment where they can develop their ideas.
“I’m certain that we will find new and exciting technology that will strengthen John Lewis’ leadership in omni-channel retailing.”
Although this announcement may seem a little tangential to the average John Lewis customer, the retailer is not the first to announce such a move. Last year Tesco backed a startup space near Tower Bridge – Rainmaking Loft – and Sainsburys has been involved in the Startup Britain campaign to help support new UK businesses.
Applications to “help shape the retail experiences of the future” are open until April 17th at the JLAB website.