Until 23 February, you can present your idea or start-up to earn a spot for yourself at one of the Wayra Academies that are offering openings in this call.
In the last few weeks, there’s been lots of good news in the Wayra family. First, ComentaTV, one of our accelerated companies in Argentina, was acquired by the US company WayIN, created by Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. And more recently, a merger was announced between Zuzeen, one of the accelerated start-ups in Madrid, and Rushmore, also from the US, and controlled by the Betaworks group. In a certain way, these movements of the market represent the validation of the acceleration model that we’ve been promoting for almost 3 years and that starts long before these investments are made, right when entrepreneurs present their ideas to Wayra.
When an entrepreneur responds to one of the 3 calls for new projects that we make each year, there are no obvious signs that allow us to predict the future success of the idea. So how do we select the most talented entrepreneurs from among the more than 22,000 who have already participated in the last few years? We’ve always said that the rules are not yet written. And it’s true, they’re not, but taking advantage of the first call for projects in 2014 is a good chance to go beyond merely reproducing the objective data on the announcement and unravel and share some of the aspects or signs that we encounter over and over in the start-ups that we select every year to be accelerated by Wayra.
What are we looking for? The immediate response is obvious: “at Wayra we’re looking for the best ideas, to help them become great businesses”. But this simple statement clearly reveals the two key facets of our identity:
1) What do we understand by ideas? We’re an accelerator, not an incubator. We enter companies in their earliest stages of development, while they are still seeds, and most of the time before they’ve started the first round of financing. So for us, an idea is already a project; we don’t incubate ideas or concepts that are unable to:
- convince us that customers are ready to buy the product that is being developed: What customer need are we solving? How do we solve it, and why do they want to pay us to do it?
- show us a prototype or functional version of the product, or that the prototype will be ready in a few months, so that we can help generate the first sales during the acceleration.
- clearly explain to us the market in which the product will compete or is already competing, who the key players are and what the product’s positioning is: Why was that market chosen? What distinguishes the established players? How innovative or disruptive is the product and what are the competitive advantages that make the business sustainable?
2) Acceleration is a means, rather than an end, to allow accelerated companies to maximise their value and become profitable and sustainable businesses. So it’s not enough to have a product that will reach the market in a reasonable amount of time. Beyond that, we’re looking for ambitious companies in which the business model that supports the growth of the project is:
- credible and sustainable: It must be very clear how revenue is generated, who pays whom and why: is the revenue flow recurring? have any threats or risks that could compromise the project been identified, and deactivated if necessary?
- scalable and globalisable: Big opportunities require big markets. We’re looking for ambitious companies that can expand globally from the very first minute and take advantage of the internationalisation of the network of 14 Wayra spaces in LATAM and Europe to reach the largest number of markets possible.
Beyond the characteristics as a business project, we also look for a strong component of technological innovation in Wayra companies. Wayra doesn’t make any sense if the project doesn’t fall within Telefónica’s own initiatives to support technological innovation; consequently, in order for entrepreneurs to take advantage of the network of contacts and even customers of the company, the solutions need to be aligned with Telefónica’s own digital strategy.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, more than ideas, we’re looking for teams. We firmly believe that the team is the key to the execution of any project and the main cause of both successes and failures. Excellent teams can make mediocre ideas triumph and mediocre teams will never succeed, even with very good ideas. We’re looking for entrepreneurs and founders who are solid and totally committed to the project, who are proactive and who challenge us every day.
In short, we invest in companies with little or no traction, which is very risky. Most of them will not achieve success, but all of them, precisely because of their incipient level of maturity, have the potential for extraordinary development. We don’t think that any of the thousand ideas that we receive is bad, but we only pick the ones that convince us of their potential and the ability to take advantage of the push provided by Wayra. If you’re an entrepreneur, have an idea and after reading this post you think that we can help you at Wayra, don’t give it a second thought and send us your project from http://online.wayra.org.
Wayra Call 2014
The process to become one of the 52 new start-ups accelerated by Wayra in its spaces in Barcelona (10 spots), Bogota (10 spots), Buenos Aires (2 spots), Caracas (6 spots), London (4 spots), Madrid (10 spots) and Prague (10 spots) will remain open until 23 February. This time, though not exclusively, we’re looking for companies that work with the ideas of the Internet of Everything and Smart Cities, Big Data for retail businesses and vertical sectors such as transport and logistics, and the Future Web, which is understood as the development and promotion of the ecosystem of applications that squeezes all of the potential out of HTML5. The selected products will receive the support of international experts and mentors to advance their technological projects, and an injection of 40,000 euros, with Wayra holding a stake of between 7% and 10% of the company.