Wayra is Scouting for B2C Startup Talent in Emerging Economies Including India
The Spanish telecom giant Telefonica´s Wayra is exploring international markets for talented startups. And India is on their radar.
Emerging economies are a hub of new talent, and big global organizations can help that talent come out by bringing opportunity to these places. In the process, they can discover phenomenal startups, which would otherwise have been lying dormant. Telefonica launched Wayra a decade back to create that opportunity in Latin America. And now they are coming to India.
As the world still grapples with the Coronavirus, digitization continues to spread in unprecedented sectors. In the light of the same, Telefonica just launched Wayra X, a 100% digital innovation hub for startups around the world that are tackling emerging problems related to 5G, e-health, e-learning, home automation, entertainment, mobility, and the future of work.
The Tech Panda spoke to Luisa Rubio, the head of Wayra X, who says Wayra is open to invest in emerging markets like India to encourage future generations of entrepreneurs to replicate the success cases already seen and to generate a strong ecosystem.
Wayra has already been doing this in Latin America since 2011.
We are confident that if we are able to help local ecosystems develop, grow, and create success cases, that will be good for the country itself, the investors, and their entrepreneurs
“Emerging markets have all the ingredients to succeed but unfortunately, they have to fight stronger than others. Players such as Wayra X, Telefonica, have an important role of taking talent from all those markets and helping them succeed and generate relevant cases,” she says.
“We are confident that if we are able to help local ecosystems develop, grow, and create success cases, that will be good for the country itself, the investors, and their entrepreneurs, because that will create a good ecosystem,” she adds.
As Wayra begins to explore the Indian market, they are planning to become more available by spreading their network and assets.
“We want to help entrepreneurs discover the value that we can bring to the table and start generating meaningful connections over there, because India is definitely one of the most relevant ecosystems on a global level when you think of entrepreneurship,” she says.
Stepping into New Sectors and Geographies
Wayra has recently been moving outside of their comfort zone into different sectors and geographies. In terms of sectors, since the beginning, Wayra has had a strong focus on the core areas for Telefonica, such as cybersecurity, IOT, big data, and AI within their B2B portfolio. However, Telefonica is a huge company and wants to keep innovating and hence has decided to venture into B2C investments as well.
All of us want to discover cool applications and new products that can make our life easier and more entertaining. That’s why we have realized that it makes sense to create a strong strategy around B2C
“We have more than 350 million customers, and users like you and I are looking for innovation. All of us want to discover cool applications and new products that can make our life easier and more entertaining. That’s why we have realized that it makes sense to create a strong strategy around B2C,” Rubio explains.
Geographically too, Wayra has decided to expand its footprint.
“Until now we have been looking for startups in the markets where we operate in, Europe and Latin America. But we have realized that when you want to invest in B2C startups, those products tend to be more digital and easiest to discover online. We want to capture that advantage and invest in startups no matter where they are located,” she says.
They already have a Shanghai based startup called BlaBla in their portfolio. They are also analyzing opportunities in Australia, Canada, India, and Israel.
“We’ve seen that it can be a relevant asset for entrepreneurs that have achieved a good volume of their local markets to become international and expand their companies, especially into Spanish speaking markets,” she adds.
Startups in Their Portfolio
Startups selected by Wayra X will have access to a team of experts and mentors. They’ll also receive remote help to scale their businesses with access to customers, testing pre-installation in terminals, and the possibility of integration into the LivingApps of Movistar+. So, what would it take for a startup to be included in their portfolio?
BlaBla, which has gone through Y Combinator, says Rubio, has a good team, which caught Wayra´s eye. The app is similar to TikTok, where native speakers of a language upload short videos from their daily life to teach students English in a fun way.
“It’s the type of startup that we are looking to support at Wayra X, because the goal is to help them get into the Spanish speaking markets in Spain or Latin America during the next year. We want to invest in these kinds of companies to be able to help them and have a meaningful impact on the rollout strategy in our markets,” she explains.
We want to invest in these kinds of companies to be able to help them and have a meaningful impact on the rollout strategy in our markets
She adds that this is the right time to invest, because if they wait a year longer the valuation will be much higher.
“We prefer to follow a spray and pray strategy in terms of offering investments and securing our position on these stages, see how the team is performing, and then help them get everything ready to succeed when they get into our markets,” she says.
To help such startups on the go-to-market strategy, Wayra has different tools inside Telefonica. For example, they are pre-installing applications on the mobile phones sold by Telefonica that can help startups get access to a massive number of customers in Spanish speaking markets.
Opportunity in Spanish Speaking Markets
The Spanish speaking market is a huge one but hasn’t yet received that much attention. A majority of startups and companies initiate with English speaking markets, because English is often their official language for business. However, Rubio says that Spanish speaking markets hold a lot of potential for new startups.
We’ve seen that it can be a relevant asset for entrepreneurs that have achieved a good volume of their local markets to become international and expand their companies, especially into Spanish speaking markets
“I think the Spanish speaking markets are super relevant and interesting for a new startup, because it is a huge market and there aren’t that many unicorns in it. When you analyze where the big companies are coming from, a majority of them are from the US, China, and maybe the UK, but there aren’t that many in Latin America. So, we think that the opportunity is really big,” says Rubio.
Also, as a still evolving growing market, Latin America holds unexplored opportunities generated from billions of users. Startups that do well there can also catch the eye of big US companies looking to acquire profitable startups. In addition, Latin American markets are easy to operate on account of having the same language, especially for B2C products.
An Opportunity for Indian Startups
For Indian startups that are looking to go international, this is an opportunity with much potential. They can take their products to the furthest corners of global business and reach out to billions of new customers.