Yesterday, Sunday, we closed the first of the three calls that Wayra will open in 2014 to receive projects. Now comes a fast-paced phase of hard work to pick the start-ups with the most potential from among the 2,113 that have applied. A few weeks ago, we shed a little light on the type of start-ups that we’re looking for, and today we’re going to tell you about the process that we’ll use over the next few weeks to help us select the 52 start-ups that will be accelerated.
One of Wayra’s greatest assets, and what distinguishes us from other accelerators, is the talent, knowledge and experience of the people who work at Telefónica. More than 1,800 employees from the different companies in the Group make up the network of evaluators. These are people who are passionate about technology, the Internet and new businesses, with knowledge and experience in areas such as software development, finance, taxes, marketing, law, technology, intellectual property and platforms, among others.
The information that each start-up has submitted to Wayra will be analysed in depth by a group of 3 to 5 people in this network, focusing on aspects like the scalability and global potential of the idea, the business opportunity and the potential of the team to drive it forward.
In parallel, the people responsible for each local Wayra academy will review the projects that apply to it in order to select the ones that are evaluated most highly and move them along to the next phase. They will be looking for the proper balance in different sectors and levels of maturity of the projects, taking into account both their possibilities of obtaining third-party financing as well as the opinions and evaluations given earlier by the network of evaluators. The entire analysis will not take more than three weeks, and in any case (whether or not they are pre-selected), the entrepreneurs will receive valuable feedback on their evaluation and the process.
The projects that continue on (between 3 and 5 for each spot) will have the chance to demonstrate the true potential of the team and the idea in a series of face-to-face interviews. At these meetings with the local Wayra teams and some experts from Telefónica, they will try to identify the challenges and risks that the team is facing with the execution of the project, and clarify any doubts that may arise during the examination of the preliminary documentation.
The process of analysing the skills and aptitudes is extremely demanding, and is designed to determine whether the team is properly balanced and ready to face the needs of the project and whether roles are distributed correctly based on the experience and individual abilities of the members.
Finally, the best proposals (approximately two for each spot to be covered) will be invited to present their projects to an independent Selection Panel made up of important figures in the entrepreneurial world: investors, business angels, successful entrepreneurs, etc. This panel will make the final decision on the projects that will be financed and accelerated.
The rigourous demands of this process help us minimise the risk involved in investing in start-ups, because all of the ones that make it to the final stage have been analysed and evaluated by up to 15 people from all points of view (functional, business, human resources, legal, financial, etc.).
This process doesn’t just provide value to Wayra; if you’re one of the candidates in this call but are not selected, you’ll get important feedback that will help you improve your value proposal, and if you you try again in the next call, increase your chances of getting a spot. In fact, of the teams participating this time around, 8% have already submitted another project, and 6% have come back with the same one. If you’re not selected this time, it doesn’t mean that your idea is bad, but rather that there were 52 projects out of the 2,113 received that we thought would be able to take better advantage of the push provided by Wayra this time, and with the necessary improvements, your idea may make the cut in the call in May.
The call figures
During the four weeks that the call was open, we received 2,113 projects from 53 countries, which is almost 40 candidates for each available slot. In addition to the countries that were offering spots (Argentina, Colombia, Spain, the UK, Czech Republic and Venezuela), we also received applications from almost all of the countries of Latin America and central and eastern Europe.
In terms of the maturity of the projects received, 44% will have a product on the market in less than 6 months. Almost 13% of the projects have already received financing and 16% were previously recognised with some type of market prize or award.
Thirty per cent of the ideas presented align with the defined priority areas (Internet of Everything, Smart Cities, Big Data and Future Web) and 38% have already been launched in a second country or are planned to do so in the next six months.
The interest that these calls continue to spark, one after the other, is undeniable. The hashtag #wayracall that we used to promote the call reached 944,377 Twitter accounts, with more than 1,147,832 hits.