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John Lewis reveals mentors for JLAB technology incubator

Five out of the 12 mentors work for John Lewis

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High street retailer John Lewis has unveiled a team of entrepreneurs and investors that will be tasked with giving advice to start-ups in the JLAB incubator.

The 12 mentors, headed up by technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks, includes John Lewis IT director, Paul Coby, and four other John Lewis employees. Other mentors include: George Berkowski, author of How to Build a Billion Dollar App, and Sara Murray OBE, founder of confused.com and Buddi. A full list can be found below.

JLAB aims to identify and develop technology innovations that will shape the shopping experience of the future.

It will open its doors to five start-ups in June and see them nurtured for three months before a new cohort is welcomed. Each business that is accepted into JLAB receives £12,500 in return for a four percent equity stake, while one winner will be offered up to £100,000 and the chance to supply the John Lewis estate with their technology. 

Mentors will be tasked with providing “business advice and encouragement” to the companies who make it to the 12-week final stage of JLAB.

John Lewis said the mentors’ knowledge and skills will be matched to participating companies so they can provide the most effective and relevant guidance based on their own experiences.

Coby claimed the mentors represent some of the UK’s finest entrepreneurial minds.

“Working alongside John Lewis, they’ll advise each JLAB finalist during the development process, helping to tune them to the needs of retailers and providing invaluable insight into making their ideas a success,” he added.

Marks said: “I believe a fundamental part of JLAB’s success will be down to the quality of mentoring that the companies receive, both from this external team and the John Lewis mentors. Being able to assemble this hugely talented and diverse group of entrepreneurs, is what will make JLAB unique.”

Last week, Coby and Marks responded to questions over Reddit from start-ups that were considering applying to be a part of JLAB. 

The full list of JLAB mentors, including John Lewis leaders, is as follows:

  • Luke Johnson, Chairman of Risk Capital Partners
  • Sara Murray OBE, founder of confused.com and Buddi.
  • Graham Clempson, Managing Partner of Quartic Capital
  • Dr. Stephanie Hussels, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Cranfield University
  • George Berkowski, Entrepreneur, author of “How to Build a Billion Dollar App” and former Head of Product at HAILO
  • Bindi Karia, Vice President Entrepreneur banking at Silicon Valley Bank
  • Shaa Wasmund, Technology Entrepreneur and Founder of Smarta
  • Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis
  • Andrew Murphy, Retail Director at John Lewis
  • Simon Russell, Director, Retail Operations at John Lewis
  • Peter Cross, Communications Director at John Lewis
  • Craig Inglis, Marketing Director at John Lewis


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