John Lewis invests in WeFiFo and Exaactly

John Lewis has announced a £100,000 investment into two start-ups – WeFiFo and Exaactly.

The investment follows the conclusion of its fourth annual start-up accelerator programme, JLab, which for the first time included Waitrose. The programme’s innovator partner L Marks will match the £100,000 investment, bringing the total start-up funding to £200,000.

“All our finalists have benefitted greatly from unprecedented access to two of the UK’s leading retailers,” said Paul Coby, CIO John Lewis Partnership. “The wider scope of JLAB this year has allowed us to bring together some of the most exciting emerging technology, not just in retail but across grocery too. It’s never been more important for the John Lewis Partnership to nurture innovation both inside and outside our business and we are looking forward to progressing this talent.”

WeFiFo is a platform which connects home chefs, supper clubs and professional chefs with paying guests. Following interaction with John Lewis and Waitrose the start-up is beginning to look at hosting its dining experiences in store branches.

Meanwhile, Exaactly is an intelligent addressing system which allows customers to provide information to help delivery drivers find their address and where to leave a parcel when they are not home. During JLab, Exaactly trialled its solution with Waitrose groceries and Yodel.

Both WeFiFo and Exaactly were chosen from 300 other start-ups who pitched and demonstrated their ideas to a judging panel of industry experts.

Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and chairman of L Marks, added: “It’s very easy for corporate acceleration to become an internal passion project, operating in silo in a corner of an organisation. JLAB’s fourth year has produced one of the most ambitious accelerator programmes I have ever been involved in. The John Lewis Partnership has led the charge on corporate acceleration from the beginning and I look forward to the scale and aspirations of JLAB growing even further in the future.”

The three other JLAB 2017 finalists included: Mucho, a smart grocery shopping app featuring personalised recipes; Journifi, which links online and in-store shopping by providing personalised in-store experiences such as personal shopper sessions; and BB1, an analytics solution that uses customer behaviour such a footfall to help businesses optimise their ways of working, monitoring an assortment of variables such as customer footfall.