Marks & Spencer is to roll out an on-the-go mobile phone charging service across its London stores in partnership with ChargedUp, the first startup selected for its new retail start-up accelerator programme, Founders Factory Retail.
The high street giant formed the incubator as a joint venture with Founders Factory last year, which has been designed to enable start-ups like ChargedUp to grow at pace using Founders Factory’s experts in design, computer engineering, AI, data science and strategy.
At the same time Marks & Spencer will benefit from the exposure to new technologies, business models and entrepreneurial thinking, as it seeks to put digital at the heart of its transformation strategy.
ChargedUp has a network of vending stations across London that allows users to rent a power bank to charge their phones on-the-go for as long as they want before returning them to another station across their network. Founder’s Factory Retail will spend six months working with ChargedUp which it will seek to grow and scale.
As well as investing in the business, vending stations will be available in eight London M&S stores. Units will be installed in six stores next month (Pantheon, White City, Bankside, Victoria Cardinal Place, Fenchurch Street and Finsbury Pavement) alongside those already in place in M&S Merchant Square Café and Waterside Simply Food (based at M&S’ Paddington HQ).
Daniel Himsworth, Founders Factory Lead at Marks & Spencer, said: “We think ChargedUp is a great start-up business. Mobile phones are an essential part of today’s shopping experience and we all know how frustrating a low battery is. The ChargedUp team has a very smart idea to solve the problem and keep shoppers fully charged. We look forward to working with them.”
ChargedUp’s founder and CEO Hugo Tilmouth said: “We are delighted to have been selected for the M&S and Founders Factory Retail programme. As a startup, working with a brand like M&S not only gives us access to the best market insights, but we are incredibly happy that our ChargedUp battery stations will be in several stores next month – which is potentially game-changing for us ahead of our nationwide roll-out. We can’t wait to see M&S customers using our batteries.”
The ChargedUp network is powered by renewable energy and through the “sharing economy” battery packs are shared which decreases the overall demand on Lithium. There are currently 250 ChargedUp stations across London and the service has over 20,000 active users.
Marks & Spencer announced its JV with Founders Factory last July. The initiative, in which M&S is the majority shareholder, aims to build a portfolio of investments, which M&S CEO Steve Rowe said at the time would “provide disruptive thinking and questioning to the way we work at a time of critical transformation within the business”.
The Founders Factory was established by lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman and Henry Lane Fox in 2015. It is focused on launching and scaling start-ups across a range of sectors.
It has received investment from L’Oreal, easyJet, Guardian Media Group, Aviva, Holtzbrinck and CSC and employs a full-time team of 60 specialists providing founders with the platform to launch or scale their start-up. Its incubator creates 13 new startups every year, while its accelerator invests in 35.