Wayra demoDay 2014: Two years in the making

Our most recent demoDay was a defining moment in Wayra’s history. will.i.am, HRH The Duke of York, Ronan Dunne (CEO, Telefónica UK), and Feilim Mackle (Sales and Service...

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Gary Stewart


WayraOur most recent demoDay was a defining moment in Wayra’s history. will.i.am, HRH The Duke of York, Ronan Dunne (CEO, Telefónica UK), and Feilim Mackle (Sales and Service Director, O2 UK) joined a crowd of 500 to celebrate the acceleration of our 2014 cohort and welcomed 29 new start-ups into the Wayra family – they will begin their journey with us in February 2015. The success of the day, however, was a culmination of a two and a half year effort with a number of stakeholders involved.


The event demonstrates the impact of a long-term vision we share not only with Telefónica, but our mentors, partners, and alumni, who identify corporate venturing as an essential element to the continued growth of the UK’s entrepreneurial economy.


12% of all accelerators in the UK are now owned by large corporate enterprises and on average, those start-ups who have gone through an incubator or accelerator programme are more likely to secure significant financial investment – on average more than £68,000 once they’ve graduated. The support and guidance they receive during this time also gives them an invaluable edge versus their competition.


If further prove-points are needed and to show our own commitment to scaling up Britain, Wayra start-ups have now raised a total of $28.6m since our inauguration, with 2014 our most successful year to date. This year’s cohort raised $10.4m before demoDay, with $3.3m in revenues and when drilling those number down per start-up, we get to see how each has benefited from the programme:


justYoYo (“YoYo), for example, gained $5m seed investment in their company and will provide AirAsia with the first ever pan-Asian mobile payments and loyalty app. Doutissima, a leading health and well-being forum, which receives 7 million unique visitors per month, seeded $1.5m investment and Insane Logic, who employ 12 staff and whose app has supported more than 70,000 people, gained $1.2m investment. Others include Opendesk and Buzzmove, who each gained around $1m investment.


It’s immensely rewarding for me to see that these and our other start-ups are an attractive proposition to investors but the finances only tell part of the story:


Of 73 start-ups that Wayra UK and Wayra UnLtd have awarded a place to, 50% have launched pilots with Telefónica during the programme. Indeed, both RotaGeek and Qudini have gone a step further with their digital systems, which are rolling out across all O2 stores in 2015 to improve the customer experience. The New Year will also bring news of potential exits for three of our start-ups, which are currently being negotiated.


demoDay, then, was a celebration of how we’re supporting the entrepreneurial life-cycle and helping companies mature, with start-up survival rates in the UK now reaching almost 92%. Better yet, it evidenced how corporate venturing is providing a pathway enabling small businesses to deliver products and services to market, the cornerstone of what’s needed if the UK ecosystem is to continue its growth.


This is a hugely exciting time for start-up programmes in this country and for the UK tech startup scene in general. As we head into the festive season and reflect, I’m sure all of us will be proud of the part we’ve played and look eagerly ahead to next year.



Merry Christmas to all!


By Gary Stewart (@garystew), Director of Wayra UK


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