Posted: Sat 4th Feb 2012
With thanks to Simon Devonshire, I had the pleasure this week of visiting Wayra in Madrid; it's a project that's on it's way to the UK and my advice to small businesses and large corporates is to take note!
The idea for Wayra came about when Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete and Gonzalo Martin-Villa (pictured below) were out for a run, passed by a building and wondered why they couldn't fill it with developers and young start-ups. The idea evolved and the result is Wayra; a global network of accelerators offering investment, space and support for start up stars across Latin America, Europe, and soon, the UK.
Funded and launched by Telefonica, Wayra calls for applications from start-ups in the territories in which it operates. To date, over 5,700 entries have been received in locations from Brazil to Colombia and Chile. From the applicants, 30 are invited to attend a Wayra week (which is actually 2 - 3 days) and 10 final companies are chosen who will receive funds, space, mentors and access to the Telefonica base of 300 million customers. It's a compelling proposition. In exchange, Wayra takes an average 10% stake in each of the businesses. At Wayra in Madrid on Thursday the ten chosen companies pitched their wares. They are working on products from medical technologies to location reviews and musical apps. What was common to them all was their appreciation for being part of the Wayra family which brings not only support in the domestic market but access to peer companies in Wayra accelerators across the globe. This would not be possible without the pure passion and dedication shown by the Wayra team; a passion that has keenly been embraced by Simon Devonshire who is the man charged with introducing Wayra to the UK. I, for one, can't wait to see the doors open, companies thrive, and have the entrepreneurial leadership shown by Telefonica spread to other large corporates. Thanks to the Wayra team for an incredible day and here's to welcoming you to the UK!
'We acted and then asked for permission' Gonzalo Martin-Villa, Director, Wayra Global 'We are investing in businesses that will make us a better business. Wayra companies are developing the products we're going to sell to our clients' Ronan Dunne, CEO, O2 UK _'We can't afford to stop'_Â Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, CEO, Telefonica Europe
Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation