John Lewis partners with TrueStart to find retail start-ups

John Lewis has embarked on a venture with TrueStart to find and fund products, services and technologies.

The Eureka Initiative will accelerate retail-specific start-ups, as well as funding and fast-tracking the companies. As part of the deal, TrueStart’s own accelerator programme, The Collection, will be exposed to John Lewis' retail capabilities which will help to commoditise initial ideas.

"The John Lewis Partnership began life as a brave entrepreneurial experiment. By collaborating with TrueStart we will be supporting the future growth of our company by partnering with like-minded entrepreneurs and fast tracking their ideas," said Tom Athron, group development director at the John Lewis Partnership. "I firmly believe that all businesses focused on growth in a rapidly changing world will need a few eureka moments to thrive."

Matt Truman, CEO at True Capital, the private equity firm which owns TrueStart, added: "TrueStart looks to work with genuinely disruptive businesses that have the potential to inform real change in the retail sector. I am delighted to welcome the John Lewis Partnership on board as our latest strategic partner. By joining forces we can lean on our joint expertise to ensure that the retail industry keeps innovation at its core, transforming the fashion, home and technology sectors in these rapidly changing times."

John Lewis has been running its own JLAB start-up accelerator programme for three years, with the 2016 finalists announced earlier this month.

One start-up which will benefit from the Eureka Initiative is TrueStart-backed, Photospire, which enables retailers and brands to create real-time, personalised video content for its customers. The new partnership has already resulted in discussions with John Lewis on how to target customers using Photospire's technology.

Ger O’Meara, co-founder and CEO of Photospire, said: "Working with the John Lewis Partnership will allow us to use real-time data and tell a story to each of its customers in a targeted, personalised and engaging way. Having access to the right people was only possible because of the partnership between TrueStart and the John Lewis Partnership. This is the very definition of 'accelerator', and highlights the value of TrueStart and its retail network."