Entrepreneurs go down to the Wayra
Ten projects have been chosen for the tech accelerator programme where they will get access to financing and expert help to get their projects off the ground
THIS WEEK marks the start of a new chapter for a group of entrepreneurs, with tech accelerator Wayra ready to get under way. With the projects finally chosen, the Dublin-based academy is gearing up to begin.
The global project, which began in Latin America, is backed by Telefónica, and aims to foster innovation in the technology sector. It could also help identify potential products and services the telco could offer its customers in years to come, giving it a leg up on the competition.
The concept is simple: start-ups in the programme gain access to financing, support and expertise to get their projects off the ground.
They also get office space in Telefónica’s building, working in close quarters and giving them the chance to learn from each other as well as from the mentors provided by Wayra during their time there.
At the climax of the Dublin “Wayra Week” last Thursday, the academy named the 10 projects it will support in its accelerator over the coming months.
It was a nerve-wracking few days for the entrepreneurs, who had seen their numbers whittled down to 20 from a record-breaking 335 entries.
Each had a few days inside the accelerator to refine their product and pitch, taking advantage of sessions with industry figures such as Fight My Monster’s Dylan Collins, Tapadoo’s Dermot Daly and Raomal Perera to build their expertise.
Then the moment of truth came, with each project pitching to a judging panel that reflected a variety of technical expertise and a wealth of experience in the sector.
The programme’s directors were hoping to find 10 projects Wayra could back for the coming months and it filled all 10 places, a testament to the quality of the ideas coming from the Irish applicants, said Wayra Ireland director, Karl Aherne.
“Certainly the last number of Wayra weeks [in other countries] didn’t fill their slots. We filled all 10 and I’m really happy about that. It’s a huge endorsement of innovation among entrepreneurs in Ireland,” he said.
“One of the biggest objectives we had from the outset was that even the 10 that didn’t get through would feel it was worthwhile. They networked, they pitched to judges and they got some training.”
The ones that weren’t chosen were unsuccessful for a number of reasons. “Either they were too early, or they were too far advanced and there wasn’t enough that Wayra could do for them,” said Aherne.
“It doesn’t meant they weren’t good projects or teams; it just meant there were 10 that were a better fit for Wayra in terms of what we can do to accelerate their business. Some of those projects don’t need Wayra – they’ll do it on their own.”
There was a wide variety in the groups that made it into the accelerator. Among the successful ones was Beats Medical, an e-health solution that aims to revolutionise how patients with Parkinson’s are treated, assessed and monitored, which could improve mobility and quality of life.