The John Lewis Partnership is investing in a business that bills itself as the “AirBnB for the kitchen table”, it was revealed yesterday.
WeFiFo, a social hub from West Sussex, is one of two tech start-up that the iconic retailer is ploughing £100,000 into following their success in its fourth annual accelerator programme, JLAB.
WeFiFo connects home chefs, supper club hosts and professional chefs with paying guests. It intends to use the investment to grow its business and expand its base of users.
Following its JLAB victory, it is also now exploring opportunities to host dining experiences across John Lewis and Waitrose branches as well as other bespoke events which could be introduced to more customers who share the same love of food.
Seni Glaister, CEO and co-founder of WeFiFo, said: “Accessing the expertise of John Lewis and Waitrose Partners through JLAB was a real privilege for WeFiFo and securing their backing is certainly the most significant milestone in our journey so far. We were inspired by the people we worked with and were very fortunate to discover so much shared purpose and passion. We used our time with JLAB to cement strong foundations and we will now build on these as we enlist the help of the Partnership in our search for and celebration of the country’s most talented home cooks.”
WeFiFo fought off strong competition from 300 other businesses to land the investment. It had to take part in intensive pitch and demonstration days in front of a senior judging panel made up of industry experts from both John Lewis and Waitrose. Waitrose joined John Lewis for the first time this year, broadening opportunities to the food retail sector.
Five start-ups were whittled down from hundreds of applications and spent 12 weeks embedded in the John Lewis Partnership offices, gaining access to insight, data and senior-level mentors, allowing them to develop their business more rapidly than they would have done by operating on their own.
JLAB is the largest retail tech accelerator programme in the UK and its innovation partner L Marks, will match the £100,000 investment from John Lewis and Waitrose, bringing the total start-up funding to £200,000.