There was sliceable tension at Wayra’s London Academy on Thursday night as 31 tech start-ups waited to hear their fate.
At an event to conclude Wayra Week – a three day mentoring and pitching exercise – the winners of the prestigious tech accelerator were announced.
Sixteen tech start-ups were selected to receive investment of £30-50,000, mentoring and office space at Wayra’s first UK Academy.
Launched in March
, the Telefónica initiative, which was founded in Latin America, attracted over 1,000 entries – from which 31 were shortlisted.
In April, the telecommunications giant, which is O2’s parent company, partnered with Microsoft
to manage the programme.
Addressing the entrepreneurs ahead of the announcement, Simon Devonshire
, head of Wayra Europe said: “It’s fine to build a building, but it’s only a building. It’s the talent in the building, the people, that make Wayra so special.”
He added that it was “not the end of the journey” for the unsuccessful finalists and the judges added that they felt “unbelievably energised” after hearing the finalists' pitches.
Among the judging panel was Enternships founder Rajeeb Dey. Speaking exclusively to Startups, he said:
“The caliber and diversity of talent has been really impressive. It just shows what a rich melting pot of talent we have in the UK.
“You can’t substitute that passion.”
Some of the greatest nerves on the night were shown by the founders of Trueview, an innovative new dating app which recently featured in our Just Started
On obtaining the penultimate place in the Academy, Trueview co-founder Matt Verity told Startups:
“We’re finally going to be able to take online dating to the social generation – and live our dream of running a company that’s changing something.
“It’s a 10-year-old industry that’s needed shaking up. We’re the company to do that.”
Co-founder Andrew Ibbotson, around whom the business idea was based, after he struggled with online dating after moving to London, added:
“We’re looking forward to getting started and helping all those singletons – myself included!”