Behind the scenes of Europe’s hot new accelerator

Behind the scenes of Europe’s hot new accelerator

Did you know that Europe had recently gained a new startup accelerator? Shortlisted by Telef贸nica鈥檚 program Wayra聽in July, ten Spanish startups have been quietly working from the recently inaugurated Wayra Academy in Madrid, which we had a chance to visit this week, alongside an entrepreneurial delegation from the UK.

From Colombia to Spain

As you may remember, we first mentioned Wayra last July, when it launched in Colombia during the Campus Party in Bogot谩. At the time, thirty startups were shortlisted for a chance to become one of the ten projects that Telef贸nica鈥檚 new accelerator would boost.

Since then, the operation has been repeated in several Latin American countries, including Mexico, which has recently inaugurated its own Wayra Academy.

This is one of Wayra鈥檚 specificities: besides seed capital, it also provides startups with well-designed co-working spaces, the Wayra Academies. While they are located in different countries, they look exactly the same 鈥 a reflection of Wayra鈥檚 global brand strategy.

Wayra鈥檚 home in Madrid: Telef贸nica鈥檚 emblematic building

In Madrid, Wayra occupies one floor of Telef贸nica鈥檚 historical building on the famous Gran Via. This is highly symbolic, as most of the telco鈥檚 local employees are now based in its new peripheral campus, the gigantic project Distrito C.

According to Wayra鈥檚 global manager Gonzalo Mart铆n-Villa, being in this building is very important for Wayra, because 鈥渢his is the soul of Telef贸nica, and as such, the place to be to transform the company.鈥

As a matter of fact, one of Wayra鈥檚 main purposes is to help Telef贸nica to innovate and keep up with digital trends. While it also invests in internal innovation, working together with entrepreneurs is a great way to cover more ground and transform the company, Mart铆n-Villa says.

This need for synergies is the reason why Wayra only accepts projects that are related to Telef贸nica鈥檚 core area of expertise 鈥 ICTs. Each team will then receive support and mentoring from Telef贸nica鈥檚 most relevant internal department.

Besides聽Telef贸nica executives, the startups also receive individual support from other mentors, such as entrepreneurs and investors.聽According to聽Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra Academy in Madrid, these mentors are handpicked to make sure they can really help each team. For instance, if聽Telef贸nica selects an e-commerce project, it will approach an experienced e-commerce entrepreneur and ask them to mentor the team.

The program also includes training, from lean startup methodology to pitch rehearsal.聽The investment seems quite high compared to other acceleration programs; 鈥渢he teams will fly to Silicon Valley to expand their network and vision, Stewart said 鈥 not to mention the co-working space that hosts them.

10 Spanish startups working with Telef贸nica

Wayra Academy takes up one floor of Telef贸nica鈥檚聽building. Its floor plan combines leisure and meeting areas with individual spaces for each of the 10 projects currently in development:

1. Clipyoo

Clipyoo is a marketplace for high-quality video clips filmed by a professional TV crew which didn鈥檛 need those rushes, and that another station could use for a different show.

2. Coqu茅tame

Coqu茅tame wants to democratize personal shopping thanks to technology. Its users will be able to get personal fashion and style help at no cost 鈥 the platform will be monetized through e-commerce and partnerships with brands.

3. Emtrics

Emtrics uses QR codes to give access to surveys, through which customers can share feedback before they leave the point of sale. The startup hopes to monetize it by charging brands, and is already testing its system with twenty companies in Madrid, including NH Hoteles, Telef贸nica and Muji.

4. Evomote

Evomote is a second-screen app. Besides turning your smartphone into a remote control, it will also let you chat with your friends and find TV programs you may like.

5. Impok

Impoks wants to disintermediate finance, and its portal lets individual investors easily manage their portfolio. It is also social, and users will be able to identify a talented digital investor and mirror its portfolio trade by trade.

6. Mira! Musei
Mira! Musei鈥檚 team is developing a smartphone app to enhance the museum visitor experience, by giving museums and visitors a chance to interact. Scheduled to launch in March, it will include routes and other suggestions, while taking account the visitor鈥檚 preferences and profiles.

7. Mirubee
Mirubee wants to give its users a X-ray of their energy consumption so they can start saving energy 鈥 and money. Thanks to a small piece of hardware, Mirubee will receive detailed data and tell customers what each of their appliances consume.

8. Sezion

Sezion鈥檚 ambition is to help amateur musicians create music together 鈥 even if they live in different places. Its iOS app will let musicians create and share their work with like-minded people.

9. TedCas

TedCas jokingly calls itself a 鈥楳inority Report for doctors鈥; while keyboards and mouses can be infection vectors, TedCas uses Kinect motion-based approach to help prevent nosocomial infections. Already in test in one hospital, TedCas鈥 technology could appeal to emerging markets.

10. Valioo

Valioo describes itself as a fair marketplace for personal data. Small companies are often eager to get customer reviews, which customers are reluctant to give. Valioo鈥檚 model gives users an incentive to share their opinion: if they do, 100% of the money will go to their favorite charity (Valioo will only monetize additional services it offers to companies).

A promising batch

Each company had a few minutes to pitch their projects to the British delegation, which included investors such as Alex Macpherson from Octopus Investments and Julie Meyer from Ariadne Capital.

Despite teething problems with pitching in English, an exercise for which founders will start training next week, the general feedback was very positive. Talking about personal favorites, the names that came back most often were Impok, TedCas and Emtrics.

Beyond good ideas, participants were also impressed by the founders鈥 experience. Some entrepreneurs have worked at聽Telef贸nica for years, and others have already worked on similar startups before launching their latest project.

It remains to be seen which teams will progress the most over the next months, but one thing is for sure: the upcoming Demo Day will be worth attending.

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