17 start ups from education kickstarters to cloud based ticketing platforms, and dating apps to restaurant delivery services have been selected to join O2 parent company Telefonica’s global tech start-up accelerator programme, Wayra. The London academy opened its doors in April 2012 and has a dedicated focus on nurturing the best ideas and talent in the field of ICT.
From 3,444 applications across 32 countries, 30 finalists battled it out at O2’s headquarters in Slough to win a place at the prestigious London academy. The 30 start-ups were subjected to a three day intensive pitch process, dubbed wayraWeek, where they were assessed and judged by a panel of eight experts, including names from Hailo, to Seedrs, to Silicon Valley Bank.
Each winning start-up will receive up to €40,000 in funding which may eventually convert into a minority shareholding in their business, typically between five and ten percent. In addition, they will be given access to a rent-free customised work space at the UK academy in central London and “money can’t buy” mentoring from industry leading executives, legal and financial advisors and angel investors.
WayraWeek 2013 coincided with the appointment of new Academy Director, Charmaine Eggberry. Charmaine brings a wealth of experience and displays a strong tech and entrepreneurial streak having started her first company while at school. Several companies later she joined RIM when it was first trying to get established in the UK and went on to help it become a multi-billion dollar business across 44 countries. After a stint advising a number of global hedge funds and management consultancies Charmaine then moved to Nokia to become Global SVP Marketing and additionally is a board member and trustee of the Marketing Academy.
She said: “wayraWeek 2013 has been another massive success for Wayra. We’ve invested in 17 start-ups and we’re proud that more than a third of our winning founders are women. This second annual wayraWeek reinforces Telefonica’s commitment to investing in the UK’s digital talent to drive a more entrepreneurial Europe.”
“I’m truly excited to take up this new opportunity as Director of Wayra UK to continue to build on the phenomenal success of the programme to date. Wayra is an incredibly special and unique accelerator with a clear focus on supporting world class talent as well as their world class ideas. That’s an exciting journey to be a part of.”
Charmaine replaces Ashley Stockwell, who took the reins as Guest Director at the UK Academy in 2012. Ashley helped mentor and develop the original 19 start-ups, many of which have seen notable successes during their time at the Academy. TaskHub, an online community hub and social marketplace, has received a six figure investment from Telefónica and nine other start-ups have been invested in by third parties. This includes PixelPin who are soon to complete a funding round of £150,000 on the crowd funding platform Seedrs. Many of the other businesses are actively seeking funding from third-parties.
Commenting on the success of the UK Academy Ashley said: “It’s been a pleasure to be part of the UK Wayra programme and see our 19 start-ups grow and develop their businesses. It’s been an incredible journey for everyone here at the Wayra Academy and I look forward to watching how the new intake of start-ups bring their ideas to life.”