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This article was published on June 1, 2012

Wayra Week wraps up with 16 teams chosen for the London academy

Wayra Week wraps up with 16 teams chosen for the London academy
Jamillah Knowles
Story by

Jamillah Knowles

Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemi Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemimah_knight or drop a line to [email protected]

Wayra, the technology accelerator of O2’s parent company, Telefonica, wrapped up its search for startups to join the London Academy for 6 months of intensive incubation.

In March, Wayra called out for startups and received over one thousand responses. From these, 30 were chosen to be a part of Wayra Week to work on developing their business and pitch for one of 20 spaces at the Adacemy. In the end, only 16 were chosen.

Here are the teams that will spend half a year working at the Academy to develop their businesses:

PixelPin: Approaches mobile and web security in a different way by using pictures instead of alpha numerical passwords.

Six3: Allows people to send short, private video messages on mobile devices that can be sent solo or as part of a conversation thread. A free decision making app for simple A/B questions that can be shared on social networks. A taxi service where drivers can pre register pricing and availability criteria and customers can compare quotes and pre-pay for journeys online.

CloudBlocks: An app store for servers with a point and click solution for hosted in the cloud or on-location servers. Users can configure and maintain infrastructure components in private or public data centres.

TaskHub: An online marketplace for services where people post jobs for completion and others in the local neighbourhood bid on those tasks.

Hiyalife: A platform to co-create, organise and share your memories in a personalised timeline.

Chatterbox: A conversation platform to help brands streamline their social media engagement by finding people who may be valuable brand advocates.

2ndSight: A software solution for turning smartphones into Swiss Army knives for the blind. With a modified user interface and a number of apps designed especially for blind users.

MyChoicePad: Created by Insane Logic, this educational iPad app  builds skills for people with communication issues through the use of sign language and symbols.

Epicurely: A platform for organizing and discovering dinner parties by connecting people who love food in a particular area.

Make Light Interactive: Uses mobile phones to turn people into pixels on giant screens at events with a custom WiFi router kit to facilitate engagement.

Night Zookeeper: A social online entertainment and education site that provides a digital game for children combining drawing, traditional play and collecting.

Blue Butterfly Digital: An app that allows users to WiFi by tapping their phone to an NFC sign or scanning a QR code.

TrueView: A dating application for smartphones that allows users to create interactive and evolving profiles for better potential matches.

Touch Line Solutions: Minimising queues and helping businesses to profit from the mobility of customers with the use of NFC.

There’s no rest for the wickedly clever of course. Wayra hopes that work will start at the Academy within the next two weeks.

Simon Devonshire, head of Wayra Europe is excited about getting started and delighted with the results. “When I welcomed the teams three days ago I told them that to accelerate them is easy. They’re so talented and we have the most amazing facility, mentors and coaches, access to Telefonica’s technology.”

So what makes a good pitch to Wayra? It seems that there were so many good ideas that the judging process was extremely difficult. “It is hard to choose the businesses we have at the academy,” says Devonshire.“Think of it this way; if you had seen Instagram’s pitch, would you have chosen it? With hindsight it’s a no-brainer but a photo sharing service on paper may not look unique. We got 1031 applications from people who said they wanted to start a business with us so the process is not easy.”

The game is not over for the applicants who didn’t make it through to work at the Academy but there are still four more spaces at this location. Devonshire revealed that those spaces will not go wanting.“We’ve selected 16 successful candidates and we’ll continue the conversation with those who didn’t make it. This was not about quality, it was whether Wayra could accelerate them at this time and for various reasons it was not quite right.

“We will fill all twenty spaces. Some conversations with the applicants may yield, we are passionate about looking for talent at universities, there may be a possibility of bringing in a team from Brazil. I am passionate about the learning between the projects that can take here. So it is beholden on us to make sure that the Academy is fully occupied.”

After six months with Wayra, the startups need not worry about being booted out of the back door for the new applicants of course. Devonshire says that there are no hard rules about what may happen next. “I have a hunch that we might extend this six months to longer to give the businesses more of an opportunity. We’re an accelerator, so we’re looking to set out their milestones and their destiny and accelerate them toward that. That’s a rocky path and I hope that the results are that they are future funded by us or someone else.”

So a positive outcome for all of the teams it seems. Now, who will be handing in their notice at work on Monday?