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04 February 2022·6 min read

Dorota Potępa

Community Builder, Vestbee

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - Wayra Germany

Wayra, the largest global corporate accelerator in the world, was initiated by its parent company Telefónica. Munich-based Wayra Germany is one of the seven Wayra hubs globally. They drive corporate innovation by scouting, scaling and investing in tech startups and paving the way for a mutually beneficial collaboration. 

 They are well-known for the venture client model, meaning that Wayra team scouts startups according to the need and pain points of Telefónica. Startups with matching solutions can make actual sales and get a credible major customer Telefonica, as a reference.  

Moreover, they provide startups with access to developed technologies, experts’ network, and a base of over 350 million customers and clients across 24 countries.  

  In 2021, Wayra marked 10th innovation anniversary, and it won the Best Innovation Hub award issued by Capital Magazin and Infront Consulting & Management GmbH.   

Accelerator Strategy Overview 


Geography: Europe and Israel 
Preferred industries: 5G, IoT, AI, Cybersecurity, Fintech, Retail & Omnichannel, HR solutions, Network, Reselling products for B2C and B2B, Corporate Responsibility, Customer service solution
Company stage: product ready on the market, and customers with first revenue
Product stage: ready product
Product type: B2B, B2C, B2B2C, B2P 
Revenues: Yes


Duration: 4 months 
Participation fee:  No, paid by Wayra 
Equity Investment:  Yes, after a successful project a potential investment will follow  
Grant: EUR 25k - 50k
No of batches per year: The program is open for all year application, no batches 
No of startups in a cohort: 12-15 new portfolio/year 

Q&A with Katrin Bacic, Chief Strategy Officer at Wayra Germany

What are the 5 most important things you look for in a startup applying to your program?

We look for startups that:

  • have a product ready to sell
  • in IoT, 5G, AI, Retail & Omnichannel, HR solutions, Customer service solution, etc.
  • have a team of motivated and experienced founders with all relevant positions covered.
  • fit with the need and pain points of Telefónica
  • are from Europe and Israel

What startups should take into account before applying to your acceleration program?

Startups should bring us a concrete use case for our parent company Telefónica, one of the largest Telecommunication players in the world. Companies with solutions that match the needs of Telefónica best, will stand out. Find out more here.

 Can you share some of the red flags that can disqualify a startup from joining your accelerator?

We have two main reasons for participants disqualification:

  • Startups product is no fit for Telefónica’s current needs
  • Startups are in too early stage

For those startups, our community could be a great point to start the business journey with. There, you will get a possibility to develop your products further with our team us and other peers support in the centre of Munich. In 2020, 5 of our community startups joined our acceleration program and had pilot projects with Telefónica. 

What are the most valuable skills that selected startups can develop thanks to your program?

During our program, startups will receive customized coaching sessions with our experts in finance, team, sales, growth and marketing. Through the 4 months pilot project, they will also learn more about startup-corporate collaboration and understand the target market need better.  

How does your accelerator support portfolio companies during and after the program?

Our acceleration program is based on the venture client model, the main goal is to win Telefónica as a client for the startup and get recurring revenues.   

How do we support startups in reaching this goal? 

Pre-acceleration phase:

  • Outlining of the project scope
  • Definition of milestones
  • Acceleration phase:
  • The pilot project will be paid by us with no equity, the startups receive usually 25000 to 50000€
  • Customized coaching
  • Checkpoints: Bi-weekly meetings
  • Access to our office space in Munich city center
  • The support of a vibrant & active startup community
  • Partnership perks such as AWS, IBM and Stripe
  • Acceleration follow-up (after a successful project):
  • We will help startups sign a commercial contract with Telefónica Germany and scale them globally within Telefónica group.
  • The startups will also have the opportunity to gain investment from us.

What are the best-performing companies in your portfolio? 

To name a few:

  • E-bot7 develops pre-trained machine learning algorithms to increase the efficiency of customer service by automating answers and suggesting the best answers to agents.
  • Cobrainer is world’s leading AI-powered skill platform improving internal recruiting, up-skilling, and talent management across companies
  • Conntac is a self-service platform helping customers with technical and non-technical problems which improve service quality and make it more efficient.
  • Stackfuel helps companies implement the digital transformation by providing online-based upskill and reskill programs focused on AI and data science.

What key lessons have you learned from projects that didn’t work out the way you expected?

A well-defined project milestone and clear expectations are crucial. That is why our first step of the acceleration program is to outline the project scope and define milestones. During the program, we also have bi-weekly checkpoints to ensure that the project is going in the right direction. Storytelling is also vital. Never underestimate the level of professionalism corporates expect. They will never buy your product if they are afraid you cannot deliver it or if there is any risk they lose the reputation with you internally.

Which type of startup financing, in your opinion, is becoming more popular nowadays?

It became a real hype among corporate investors and innovation units to fund and promote promising young companies. Unfortunately, the success of such initiatives is NOT always long-lasting - many companies have neither clear goals nor expectations, nor do they know how they can profit from the startups they fund, or they simply regulate them out of existence. That’s why companies need a corporate venturing system that aims to establish genuine and resilient client relationships between the sponsoring companies and the startup. 
For three years now, Wayra Germany has been working with the client venture model. The start-ups make actual sales and get a credible major customer as a reference, which helps them in other sales pitches. In contrast, Telefónica receives the opportunity to integrate innovative solutions into its own processes with a precise fit. 

What are the hottest markets you currently look at as an accelerator and where do you see the biggest hype?

We see the biggest potential in following industries: 5G, Edge Computing, IoT and Robotics.  
In March 2021, we opened a 5G Tech Lab with state-of-the-art 5G standalone technology in Munich. Since then, we offer young founders and startups the opportunity to develop groundbreaking new 5G applications for consumers and industry, as we believe this is the future. 

Do you have any predictions about the key trends that will shape the European accelerator scene in the near future?

Diversity #25to25 mission is one of the closest trends for us. 
We are well aware of the fact that startups with female or mixed founders perform better. In 2021, we implemented diversity into our strategy and increased our mixed founders’ percentage in our portfolio companies to 40%. Every accelerator should push and support female entrepreneurship and help reduce the gender gap in funding. 

Related Posts: 

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - Grow F (by Magdalena Balcerzak, Manager, Vestbee)

Scaleup Accelerator Of The Month -  Design Terminal (by Magdalena Balcerzak, Manager, Vestbee)

Scaleup Accelerator Of The Month -  Seedstars  (by Magdalena Balcerzak, Manager, Vestbee)

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