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John Lewis brings in the young bright sparks


British retailer John Lewis has announced the five technology start-ups who have advanced to the final stage of its John Lewis business accelerator programme JLab.. Among these are three business-savvy millennials who are in the running to win the £100,000 worth of funding for the commencement of their company.

The retail giant has narrowed its applicants down to five start-up businesses – Quidini, Peeple, Alfred, Space Lounges and Ikinen. Each will now be given an office space within John Lewis’s head office and initial funding for 3 months, as well as access to a full panel of John Lewis mentors.

Of the finalists, teenagers Alex Waterhouse, 17, George Streten, 15, and James Anderson, 17, are the brains behind Space Lounges project. The young entrepreneurs have created a smartphone app that allows users to purchase items in a physical location in one tap. They claim that their business will be the next generation of coffee shops and cafes and are set on enhancing the future retail experience.

Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis, said: “Innovation is in John Lewis’ DNA and we want to work with tech start ups to define the future of retail.   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. I am looking forward greatly to working with each of the finalists over the summer to help them move their ideas closer to reality, and to share the values of the John Lewis Partnership with them.”

Marks added: “We were delighted to have so many high quality entrants to JLAB this year and again the standard of pitches was outstanding. It’s very hard to choose between the finalists right now, so I’ll be watching with interest to see how each finalist develops with the help of the team at John Lewis and our external mentors who like last year are all high caliber and successful entrepreneurs.”

JLab will officially commence on Monday 6 July and a second pitch day will take place in September to crown the winner of the £100,000 JLab prize. 

Talya Misiri 

Published on Monday 15 June by Editorial Assistant

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