John Lewis has announced Localz, a start-up business specialising in micro-location technology, as the winner of JLAB, the retailer’s first ever technology business incubator.
Headed up by co-founders Tim Andrew, Pete Williams and Melvin Artemas, Localz has been awarded £100,000 in investment and the chance to trial the solution with John Lewis.
The Australian company uses proximity iBeacon technology, which gives customers the opportunity to take advantage of some enhanced services using their smartphone based on their precise location.
For example, it could automatically offer to trigger a customer’s Click & Collect order to be picked as they enter the shop. This would speed up the collection or help customers to navigate their way around a John Lewis store based on their online wish list.
The initial entry period for JLAB saw hundreds of startups apply to take part, pitching their ideas for innovations that could shape the future of the retail experience.
In May, Localz was picked as a finalist alongside four other startup businesses: Musaic, SpaceDesigned, Tap2Connect and Viewsy.
Over a 12-week period at Canary Wharf, the five finalists developed their ideas with the assistance of mentors from John Lewis as well as high-profile entrepreneurial figures including Luke Johnson, Chairman of
Risk Capital Partners chairman Luke Johnson and confused.com founder Sara Murray.
The final pitch day on 23 September saw Localz emerge as the overall winner.
Localz commercial director Tim Andrew said JLAB has been "an amazing experience” from start to finish.
“The fact that my father was a partner with John Lewis for over 30 years gave me a very personal reason to want to be a part of it, in order to try and help the company that supported me and my family when I was growing up.”
“The support and guidance that John Lewis provided throughout the incubation period helped us refine our offering for the European market. They also gave us access to successful entrepreneurs and mentors from diverse backgrounds and industries which allowed us to accelerate our development.”
John Lewis IT director Paul Coby commented: “Innovation is at the heart of John Lewis and JLAB, our first tech incubator, has given us a new way to explore the technologies that will change how we all shop in the future. It’s been a hugely rewarding and educational experience, drawing on a diverse group of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives, and we have a very worthy winner who we’re looking forward to working with in the months ahead. I do very much believe that this is what our Founder Spedan Lewis would be doing if he was around today.”
Localz’s plans to use the £100,000 investment to further develop its technology in conjunction with John Lewis and prepare the launch of live trials in store.
The company is also looking to hire new talent to work in its London-based team.