2019 has been a year full of positive energy, new things and learnings for me. I joined the great team of Wayra Deutschland in February 2019 as Head of Investments with three main goals:
- Reactivate the investment activities of Wayra Deutschland in high-tech startups
- Build up a base for an investors network for Wayra Deutschland
- Set up the internal structure required to scale up the investment activities of Wayra Deutschland
And I am very proud to say that we achieved all three of them. Let me give you more details about the first two, which may be the most interesting ones for all of you.
Having a very busy end of the year, we were able to close three investments in total and we feel fantastic to have found such great teams to support:
“Making urban mobility intelligent”
Founded in 2015 and based at the outskirts of Berlin, MOTIONTAG offers an analytics solution that uses machine learning on smartphone sensor data and gathers accurate and intermodal mobility data in real-time. The solution is shipped as an SDK into already existing apps of transport providers and can access movement data of the app’s users which are analyzed anonymously. This way, MOTIONTAG can recognize passively and fully automatically when, where and how people move from A to B and how different transport services are being used and combined. Currently, it can be differentiated between ten different modes of transport. Through the analysis of such mobility flows transport operators can recognize pressure points in their networks, understand their passengers’ mobility behavior and create user-centered services.
You can read more information about our deal with MOTIONTAG here.
“Data training for professionals”
Founded in 2016 and based out of Berlin, StackFuel is an edtech company co-founded and led by Leo Marose as CEO and Stefan Berntheisel as CTO.
Our relationship with StackFuel started in 2018, when we helped them develop a pilot project with Telefónica Germany. We have seen lots of development since then and dare to bet that StackFuel will be one of the top players within the edtech market in Europe soon, being one of the leaders in Germany already. The fact that StackFuel produces its own content and makes it available in different languages (German and English) differentiates them to their competitors and enables the team to produce very high-quality and customized solutions to its customers.
As a telecommunications company, data sets and data analytics are part of our daily business. Making sure that our human capital has the right skills to work and understand data is key for us. StackFuel empowers digital transformation and fosters individuals into becoming data scientists by offering users first class online data training courses that will teach them the knowledge required to understand technologies, work with data, interpret it and take the right decisions to disrupt the status quo.
You can read more information about our deal with StackFuel here.
“The world´s first SD-WAN open source”
Founded in Tel Aviv in 2018 and with Amir Zmora as CEO, flexiWAN is on a mission to create the second wave of SD-WANs with an open source SD-WAN solution featuring a modular architecture. This unchains SD-WAN software from monolithic, vendor locked solutions. Offering SD-WAN open source is only one element in a broader strategy for flexiWAN to democratize the SD-WAN market, dramatically lowering barriers to entry for companies to adopt it or offer services based on the flexiWAN SD-WAN open source.
With our investment, we want to support flexiWAN´s journey through Telefónica and also keep helping our mother company stay close to the key technologies that will allow us to provide customized solutions to our customers. We believe, that flexiWAN has an experienced and strong team that will define the new standards in the open source SD-WAN space.
The open technology offered by flexiWAN can deliver several benefits not only to Telefónica but to the whole B2B networking ecosystem and its clients:
- Enrich CPE supply chain with more manufacturers thanks to the x86 compatibility (and potentially other hardware architectures)
- Open the B2B ecosystem to startups and long tail developers thanks to its open interfaces and SDK that allows for integration of other applications such as security and WAN accelerators at the choice of the client
- The combination of both, will lead to lower service provider and enterprise TCO thanks to more competency, the democratization of the software defined networking market which will in turn, increase deployment and result in better solutions for the enterprises thanks to the innovation brought by the community
The investment will be followed by a series of customer PoCs during 2020, starting in Germany.
Listen to Amir here to learn more about why they started up their company.
You can read more information about our deal with flexiWAN here.
In addition to attending several startup events last year, we introduced a new Co-Investors Event format to the CVC ecosystem. We hosted two events, one in Munich and one in Berlin, where we partnered with other key players of the startup industry such as btov Industrial Tech Fund, eCapital, SeedX, Seed+Speed, Tengelmann Ventures, Factory Berlin and 4YFN Investment Club.
We did this with three objectives in mind:
- Share the message that Wayra Deutschland is back investing
- Create co-investments opportunities: our investor partners and wayra brought startups from our portfolios that were looking for funding in a short-term
- Foster knowledge sharing and learn from each other: as part of the event, we hosted a fishbowl session to foster the exchange of ideas between all the participants.
The Fishbowl session is a form of active discussion that is getting more and more famous at startup events. But, what is it about?
On stage there are 3 fixed spots for the speakers invited, a moderator seat, a free seat for people from the audience to join the discussion and a flipchart where discussion notes will be written down.
In our case, we invited senior professionals working at the firms that were our investor partners, which brought high quality and interesting discussions, as well as some funny moments.
In order to get a spot in the discussion, the new speaker coming from the audience has to touch the shoulder of the person occupying the free seat to be able to substitute him/her.
Around 3 or 4 topics are selected to be discussed during the session, each of them for 15 minutes. We prepared a list of topics and asked the audience to vote in real time for their preferred ones:
- What are German investors looking to find in companies they invest in? Are investors considering psychological factors such as the happiness of the founders?
- What can we learn from American and Chinese investors? What do we need to change to nurture more success?
- What does the accelerating activity of US investors in Europe mean for European investors?
- Are there political / regulatory obstacles? Which political catalysts could superpower the ecosystem?
- As cheap capital abounds how can we continue to add value to entrepreneurs? How can we make smart capital smarter?
Our Co-Investors Events are usually invite-only and not promoted in social media. If you want to attend the 2020 edition, please, let us know. You can visit our website to find the contact information and send us a message.
We are looking forward to having a 2020 at least as successful and busy as 2019 was. If you are a startup developing a technology that could be interesting for Telefónica or if you are an investor with a portfolio startup in need of a co-investor and traction with one of the biggest telecommunication companies in the world, do not hesitate to reach out to us.