Looking up: 12 tech firms on PwC's 2020 retail scale-up scheme

Professional services organisation PwC is embarking on the fourth annual iteration of its ‘Scale Retail’ initiative – a programme aiming to help already high-growth scale-up firms progress in their target sector.

Based in London but operating with more of a virtual flavour this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the retail scheme includes 12 tech companies looking to learn, expand, and make connections to support their development.

This year’s Scale Retail began in early May, and will run until September. The initiative includes pitching opportunities that put founders in front of executives and new contacts, as well as multiple group workshops, and individual business coaching sessions.

Connecting and supporting commerce

PwC views the programme as a way of raising awareness of new concepts to its existing clients, which include many of the largest retail businesses in the UK, but it also gives the organisation a chance to work closely with emerging firms that may need its services in the future.

Previously known as Scale Commerce, the event has now taken on a specific retail moniker and – for the first time this year – the cohort have access to PwC mentors from their relevant sector.

The workshops, which will run virtually over the coming months, include “masterclasses” on areas of business development like sales and marketing, people and product, fundraising, and operational scaling issues such as international expansion.

The scheme leads towards a pitch event in September, which will put the cohort in front of execs from across PwC’s network of clients and partners to demonstrate their businesses’ credentials.


This year’s retail cohort

Aphix 

A Republic of Ireland-based firm that aims to help business-to-business companies sell smarter by using its ERP-integrated eCommerce web shops and mobile ordering apps.

DigitalGenius 

A technology company from the UK, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate retailers’ customer service processes.

Fondy 

A UK-based international online payments platform, allowing retailers to add multiple payment methods to their websites, apps, or social media pages.

Glassbox

An enterprise analytics platform founded in Israel that allows retailers to measure visits to their websites and apps.

Invent Analytics 

This US-based business uses AI to help retailers, particularly in the fields of inventory and price optimisation. 

KornChain

A London-based blockchain network for the marketing industry, with focus on supporting loyalty programmes, affiliate marketing and gift card distribution.

Observa 

This US-based company delivers real-time analytics for in-store product merchandising and promotion execution, using AI.

OnePulse 

A UK firm describing itself as an opinion platform offering a conversational approach to market research.

Recash 

A UK company that can upgrade any bank card to a cashback card, for use at thousands of retailers.

Simporter 

A US-based software firm providing retailers and manufacturers with AI-driven sales predictions before and after product launches.

Soft Robotics 

A US-based business which designs and manufactures technologies enabling retailers to automate the handling of variable products and processes.

Think Again Growth

This UK-based insights business helps organisations gauge their capacity to grow, and supports the development of their commercial propositions.


Lisa Hooker, PwC’s leader of industry for retail, consumer, and leisure, and the partner-level sponsor for Scale Retail, told Essential Retail: “Our large clients are continuing to look for new innovations and through the Scale Retail platform we can connect them with solutions that address many of the accelerated technological hurdles being faced by the retail sector.”

She added: “Given the current economic environment I believe the programme can add more value than ever as our scale-ups will have the support of PwC throughout this challenging time and over an extended timeframe. Across the PwC network there is already a huge amount of experience and best practice being shared with our scale-ups, preparing their businesses for rapid growth and making connections to enable new opportunities.”

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