selected: 9 startups
from: 4 countries
meet them: right now!

Wayra CEE Final Selection Panel: Day 2

Last night we proudly announced the names of 10 startups that will join the Prague Academy this year. But let’s start from the beginning.

As opposed to Wednesday which was relaxed and even a bit anarchic (in the best possible way) at times, yesterday had to ran according to a strict schedule (well, kind of, the day started by a 20 minute delay ;) ), as all the 21 teams had to pitch in front of a carefully selected jury. Each team had 5 minutes to present their business followed by 15 minute Q&A. It was rather demanding for both sides — all the teams naturally wanted to make the best impression possible and the judges had to stay focused from start to finish and they didn’t want to be fooled by a bad presentation while the project could be the next big thing.

Finally at 6pm judges moved to a private room to arrive at the final decision. In the meantime, teams as well as last year’s cohort and mentors from the day before gathered back in Agora for what, according to Remote Assistant, turned out to be the most inspirational talk Wayra CEE has heard thus far.

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Jan Rezab, CEO of Socialbakers, proves that failure definitely doesn’t have to bring one down and school is important, but not crucial. He talked for more than one hour about all the life-changing points of his career and the main reasons behind his success. Jan, who started in business when he was only 14 years old, explained he had tried to find anything that would keep him busy and mainly outside of school – because that was the place, where all the dreams were killed. He had a real passion for mobile gaming and that’s why he founded Redboss to become a leader in mobile entertainment products. After four years of huge success he found himself broke (2008). He even had to change identity to hide his previous fails and persuade people to trust him again. Becoming somebody else was the only way how to start another business in the Czech Republic at that time. Later on, he came with Socialbakers (initially Facebakers) because he saw the potential and growing interest in social media.

When he went for funding for the first time, the company was already profitable, making thousand of dollars in revenue. They didn’t need money for survival, but saw it as an enabled to become a global company. In 2010, there were 35 people working for Socialbakers with a future plan to move to Palo Alto. Nowadays they are monitoring more than 8 million social profiles, although they were rejected two hundred times by two hundred investors (having in the end raised 34 million USD thus far). They have what they wanted but they are still not where they want to be and they are not going to wait for the luck of potentially being sold, but rather continue in making business.

Socialbakers is one of the most thriving technology companies ever founded in the Czech Republic and one of the biggest social media companies (in terms of clients, not revenues) in the world. They were the first who started to define engagement, and Jan makes sure that not only him but his entire team sets standards in social. They stand for content, not only for the number of followers. And what is the future of Socialbakers? Grow very much and then… let’s see.

Tips from Jan Rezab:

  • If you want to be the best in your area, you have to learn every single thing about your business because there can’t be anybody who knows more.

  • Educate your team.

  • You should hire people that are better than you and even older than you. Manage them by leading, show what you do the best and they will trust you because you know your sh*t and you know where you are taking your company.

  • Be humble because the people you will meet on the way up, you may need on the way down.

  • Build partnerships.

  • Be more open.

  • Don’t hire a lot of people if you don’t know how to get rid of them. If you hire wrong people, you have to be fearless in firing them.

  • Be self-confident, not arrogant. 

After this motivational speech that left the audience truly inspired, the most awaiting moment was finally here.

The 8 winners were chosen from close to 130 projects, although only 21 of them had a chance to present their idea in Prague. In the end it was up to the panel of 12 judges – a fine mix of experienced technologists, entrepreneurs, investors and corporates to make the final decision: Jan Sedivy (Czech Technical University), Jarmila Placha (Wayra), Amit Paunikar (MediaStudio), Gustav Grundin (Telefónica Czech Republic), Marek Jablonsky (Springtide Ventures), Lukas Melichar (Elem Group International), Milos Endrle (Geeva), Ivan Hruska (Rasax), Tomas Orlik (2Finvest), Andreas Antonopolous (UNYP, Marathon Invest), Michal Frankl (Telefónica Czech Republic) and Andrej Kiska (Credo Ventures).

They evaluated the ideas on the basis of:

  • size of the opportunity, status and maturity, strategic fit with Telefonica, market risks and competition, the magic behind the startup, innovation, team potential and invest-ability.

9 startups that are going to join Wayra CEE in 2014:

  • SmartSense (Czech Republic)

Industry: Real estate

Type of product: Platform & Infrastructure

Stage: MVP

Product/Service: Smart property management

“We want to put the inside of every building on a map. I want to thank the whole team, Honza (Co-Founder) who prepared our presentation from the US where is currently on business and to my girlfriend who spent most of last night listening to the pitch over and over.”

 

  • Audiotrip (Poland)

Industry: Travel, IT Services & Platforms

Type of Product: Mobile Apps, Crowdsourcing

Stage: commercially launched

Product/Service: Global social self-publishing GPS-based mobile app for sightseeing with audio guides

“We want to change the way people are discovering the world. We want you all to become the part of our community and start using our app. It was a privilege to be here and listen to all of you. It was a dream. Dream coming true.”

 

  • Ingen.io (Bulgaria)

Industry: Education, Advertising, Social Media Marketing, Consumer Web

Type of product: Platform & Infrastructure

Stage: MVP

Product/Service: NLP API service provider

“After the pitch, I realized we didn’t even say the most important things. Thank you for the vote of confidence.”

 

  • Lingout (Slovakia)

Industry:

Type of product: Productivity Tools

Stage: pre-commercial beta

Product/Service: App localization and translation platform for developers

“Thank you both the jury and the team. I am happy to be here and I can’t wait to become a part of the Wayra.”

 

  • Staffino (Slovakia)

Industry: Shopping Experience

Type of Product: Productivity Tools

Stage: Pre-commercial beta

Product/Service: Tool for receiving feedback on staff that customers meet.

“We are happy and so excited. We put a great effort into our job and it is good to see it actually worked. We need help mainly in terms of distribution, marketing and mentoring.”

 

  • Telmedicin (Poland)

Industry: E-health

Type of Product: Platform & Infrastructure

Stage: Pre-commercial beta

Product/Service: Telemedicine platform. Contact a specialist anytime and from any place using a webcam. Fast, simple, now.

 

  • UpTAXI (Czech Republic)

Industry: Advertising

Type of Product: e-commerce & marketplace

Stage: commercially launched

Product/Service: Google is an advertising company that does search. UpTAXI is an advertising company that does taxi technology.

“Thank you for the two wonderful days. In a few years we will transport 3 million passengers and make more than 3 billion CZK. Wait, you will see.”

These 8 teams are going to be joined by another 2 that had already been chosen in a mini Call decided in late January 2014.

 

  • Daty (Czech Republic)

Industry: Communication & Connectivity, IT Services & Platforms, Financial Services, Advertising, Real Estate, News & Media

Type of product: Search Engines & Content Aggregator, Content Generation, E-commerce & Marketplace, Platform & Infrastructure

Stage: pre-commercial beta

Product/Service: It is like Facebook but instead of friends you see a news feed about companies that matter to you.

 

  • LiveDispatcher (Slovakia)

Industry: Logistics & Transportation

Type of product: Platform & Infrastructure

Stage: pre-commercial beta

Product/Service: Field Service Management

“We are super excited to meet the rest of the Wayra teams tonight and truly look forward to our time in the Academy together. We recently made a small pivot to gain focus”.

Regardless of the outcome, our congratulations go to all 21 teams, for they all did an excellent job. Huge thanks goes to the jury for asking the right questions, challenging, encouraging, providing feedback and helping us with the difficult task of choosing those with the greatest potential. We are super excited that in addition to Czechs and Slovaks, we will have the pleasure to work also with Bulgarians and Poles. The Prague Academy just became a true CEE accelerator