Telefónica, the Spanish telecommunications company, is unveiling a pair of new initiatives aimed to help support startups that are coming up with innovative solutions in 5G, e-health, e-learning, the digital home, entertainment, mobility and the future of work, among many others.
The projects will be managed under Wayra, which is Telefónica’s startup accelerator arm that seeks to bolster the growth of digital and disruptive startups globally. Wayra is currently operating throughout 10 countries across Europe and Latin America but actively backs startups around the world.
“At Wayra, we know that technological progress has never been as galvanized as it is today, and we want to help those digital startups with game-changing technological solutions ride that wave,” — Andrés Saborido, global head of Wayra.
According to a company statement, a main driver for this new initiative will be Wayra X. The 100% digital innovation hub for startups from around the globe works on solutions to a range of modern challenges related to 5G, e-health, e-learning, home automation, entertainment, mobility and the future of work.
Wayra X was just unveiled by Telefónica at its all-virtual 2020 Innovation Day and plans on investing in 10 new projects by the end of 2021. Startups from Asia and Europe, namely BlaBla — a fully immersive English learning experience — and Peoople — an advanced entertainment and dining recommendation app — are already featured in its portfolio.
Wayra X will expedite a startup’s access to real users by pre-installing their products on devices bought by Telefónica customers where they can test and validate their ideas in active markets of Movistar clients in Spain, O2 clients in the UK, or Vivo clients in Brazil.
In addition to gaining exclusive access to Telefónica’s network of users, companies who join Wayra X will be offered an investment of up to €250,000. They will also have the opportunity to consult Telefónica’s growth team about customer needs and reach out to a diverse team of experts and mentors in areas such as sales, marketing, communications, and finance.
“The most successful companies are those who can resolve a concrete problem with individual brilliance. In other words, those capable of solving ‘X,’” said Andrés Saborido, global head of Wayra.
The second of its newly announced initiatives is Wayra Builder, a corporate venture builder that will take advantage of Telefónica’s home-grown talent and state-of-the-art technology to create groundbreaking startups in collaboration with external investors and startups.
Wayra Builder will focus on founders that have the greatest potential to develop spin-off products that can then serve customers in novel, creative ways. It has already launched Deeder, a cybersecurity and legal tech startup that branched out from ElevenPaths, Telefónica Tech’s cybersecurity company. The startup allows users to sign contracts via messaging apps.
The first-of-its-kind initiative will invest in startups with a product prototype on the market that can grow beyond borders and be offered to Telefónica’s customers all around the world.
Telefónica has reportedly invested €160 million in companies across the globe. Telefónica’s Connected Open Innovation unit, which hosts Wayra, has a portfolio of over 500 startups, of which 140 are already working to provide unique solutions to Telefónica and its global network of 340 million clients. According to a press statement, Wayra has said it has made investments worth €49 million in startups.
“At Wayra, we know that technological progress has never been as galvanized as it is today, and we want to help those digital startups with game-changing technological solutions ride that wave,” said Saborido.
Interested entrepreneurs from all countries can apply here to learn more about the Wayra X program. To qualify for consideration, their startup must have a product in the market and an active customer base.