The Wayra Week was a big event for entrepreneurship in Peru. Of 30 participating teams, 10 were chosen as winners. The winning teams received $50,000 in seed capital and a place in the accelerator – where they will get the fast track to creating their business.
Wayra itself is an initiative to find and nurture the most promising technology start-ups across Latin America. It is backed by some big names, including Telefonica.
I’m going to start at the end: the awards ceremony. Participants were at the edge of their seats. For each name called, a new dream come true. I couldn’t help but be excited for the participants, but also for what this all means for Peru.
Why is it important and exciting?
1. The tech community came together and it got media attention. Players from many sectors were all in one spot.
2. Telefonica is setting what we hope to be trend. Investing in and giving support, training and distribution to tech entrepreneurs. Hopefully this paves the way for more private investors and funds to follow.
3. We can now see the results of the first real tech incubator.
Ideas and businesses are made up of people –the real story isn’t about the platforms who won, but the people behind them. I went in to take a look the day before and check this out.
I’ve been part of online start-ups. I’ve invested in them. I agree with the approach that many angels and VC firms take when looking at the market: it’s never really about the idea, it comes down to the team of people.
Finding the right revenue stream is often a challenge. Same with attracting users for your site– there is no magic pill and it’s a lot of trial and error.
Putting emphasis on the team over the idea is important because the business model can change based on market response (it’s called a pivot). And the team’s ability to be open to and to be open to change is just as big of a component.
Recently, I’ve been searching for more answers to the question – Do Peruvian entrepreneurs have what it takes? When they hit wall, a challenge, will they get back up?
What I saw at Wayra was a cross-section. The level of passion and ability to pitch effectively varied. Some teams had prototypes; in other cases, it was just a guy with an idea.
I don’t know what went on behind the judging process. I don’t how much weight the judges put on the team vs. the idea. What I do know is that I met some teams, even ones that did not win, have a bright future ahead of them.
Escanpass uses QR codes that can be read by mobile devices making it faster and easier to enter large events.
The people: the team is led by the first Peruvian to be invited to TED Global –Cesar Zevallos. Cesar has over 25 years of experience in e-business and runs one of the most successful web design companies in Peru. I was also impressed by a young member of his team, Jaime Sotomayor. Jaime is an example of what I hope to see as the future of many entrepreneurs in Lima. He is young, smart and quick. He attended a Stanford entrepreneurship week where his “whole world opened up.” He’s started small businesses, learned from mistakes, and he is not afraid to fail. This is refreshing quality here, as many Peruvians businesses don’t yet accept the notion and benefit of “fail early – fail fast “ mentality.
Good teams are coming from Arequipa. Strong programs are training and teaching effectively, and Primeros Puestos is just one example. I first heard about this team from one of their mentors – a very talented developer from Silicon Valley. Their platform already has partnerships and serves as a way for talented young adults interested in science and technology to access jobs and opportunities. It’s kind of like a socially inclusive LinkedIn-meets-Yelp . Members Mauricio Cordova del Carpio and Alberto Munoz Najar Luque have the experience and titles locally and abroad ( Mauricio with MS from London School of Economics and BS from University of Texas, Alberto has worked in Singapore and even for the Yunus Center). Titles not withstanding – you take one look at these guys and know they are smart. They have the “it-factor” and a big vision for transforming education and society. They have already found a stride and a prototype that users actually use. With a few tweaks and positioning, I expect success.
Here are the winning teams from the event:
Andoayudando.com: A platform for the dissemination of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.
Art-e Manifesto: A gallery 2.0 community to connect artists with potential consumers.
Couchy.com: Marketplace services among individuals with a strong online reputation.
Cuponium: A web solution that sells pre-payment certificates discount consumer companies. Loyalty program platform for SMEs.
Face-Me: Online platform for the design and manufacture of custom toys.
Hipotekaexpress: Portal to connect and allow negotiation between plaintiffs mortgage and financial institutions.
Landmarker: Web and mobile platform that enables the creation and dissemination of themed tours.
Nisu.pe: Community-ecommerce fashion clothing, footwear and accessories.
Papaya.pe: Platform for film fans: information on new releases, ticketing, digital distribution of video content to all types of connected devices.
Intelligent Platform: Analysis of the product information posted by users on blogs and social networks.
Kate Mulder aims to be the voice of tech, business, and entrepreneurship in Peru. Kate\‘s career in business development specializes in emerging markets, online technology, and cultural awareness. She currently works with investors and companies curious about doing business in or successfully expanding to Peru.