© Wayra

A New Start with the Venture Client Model: a Talk with… Wayra

On 16 November 2017, Wayra celebrated its major “Big Bang” party in Munich and announced the beginning of a new era. To find out what startups can expect from Telefónica’s venture unit and what a possible collaboration might look like, we talked with Wayra CEO Christian Lindener to find out more details.

Christian, please tell us a little something about Wayra!

Wayra is Telefónica’s venture track and a global initiative with offices in ten countries – that includes Spain, the UK, Germany and seven countries in Latin America. Wayra Deutschland has supported approximately 40 startups from its office in Munich so far.

Startups benefit from a global network

What are Wayra’s goals and how do you work?

Wayra Big Bang
© Munich Startup

Wayra identifies innovative founding teams and promotes their growth as well as that of young tech companies with the aim of boosting digital innovation. Wayra supports startups with its venture client model, while also providing direct access to Telefónica. This gives startups the opportunity to gain one of the leading global telecommunication companies as a customer. They are also able to improve in operative terms thanks to direct interaction with Telefónica’s business units, while also benefiting from its global network. Wayra provides additional support in the form of funding, coaching, office space and events. In addition to Telefónica, we also introduce you to other tech companies in Germany by utilizing our B2B connections and distribution network.

What are the key elements of your startup program?

  • the venture client model
  • implementing tech projects with Telefónica
  • a zero equity approach (€25,000 grant)
  • one week of boot camp coaching per month
  • after successful project completion, potential long-term commitment of Wayra/Telefónica (a stake in the company.)

What do you focus on when considering participation?

Mature high-tech startups from the fields of Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, cyber-security and artificial intelligence.

Do you already have success stories to look back on?

Wayra Deutschland has an impressive track record based on the advancement of the 38 startups it has supported so far. An example is the Wayra startup Neokami, which offers AI solutions to protect company data and was sold to relayr in September 2017. By working with us, the Munich-based AI startup e-bot7 was able to implement its solution in the system landscape of one of Europe’s largest telecommunication companies. In September 2017, the automotive supplier Continental took over the Wayra startup Parkpocket, which offers data-based services for of off-street parking.

Christian Lindener
Christian Lindener. © Wayra

What do you focus on when working with startups?

  • gaining Telefónica (GER; UK; SP) as a client (venture client) with more than 350 million customers and market capitalization of more than 54 billion euros
    • Business development
    • Operational accelerator
    • Investor (up to 350K)

“To be successful, a startup needs to…

… be good at sales, sales, sales.

Why would a good startup even need something like an accelerator to back them? What do you offer?

The first major customers bring along the first major investments. We buy your technology to use it in the company. We also have an exceptional network and are in a position to both invest and establish contact with other investors.

What do you think is the biggest mistake a startup can make?

• Giving up equity too early on
• Carelessly establishing a team too quickly

The trend of the year is…

…AI for everything.

What makes the Munich startup scene so special to you?

  • B2B startups that do instead of talking and develop instead of marketing
    • Advanced technologies
    • Proximity to tech giants (Telefónica, IBM, Google, BMW)

Last but not least: whom should startups contact if they would like to meet up with you?

Contact me, Christian Lindener.

Thank you for the interview!