Since the 2011 launch of Wayra and the Telefonica Innovation funds (Axon Partners in Colombia, InvestTech in Brazil, and Scale Capital in Chile), Telefonica has emerged as one of the most active investors in Latin American startups, with over €20 million invested over the past nine years, and €1.37m invested across 16 deals in 2019. (See below for a list of transactions.)
2019 marked a significant year for Telefonica’s evolution supporting Latin American startups. Responding to a maturing market, Telefonica re-launched the Wayra brand, focusing on larger tickets (up to US$250k) for more mature startups that align well with Telefonica’s business units. As an early indication of the traction of the new strategy, Wayra-backed startups generated over €17m in revenues for Telefonica’s operations in Latin America in 2019, in addition to over 100 pilot programs launched with its operators.
In addition, Wayra’s presence consolidated into three principal hubs, run by Johanna Harker Garcia (Mexico, Colombia & Venezuela); Agustin Rotondo (Argentina, Peru, Chile, Uruguay); and Renato Valente (Brasil). Guenia Gawendo continues leading Telefonica Ventures as well as the Telefonica Innovation Funds.
Telefonica also created a separate business unit, Telefonica Tech, to support new business around IoT, big data, cloud and cybersecurity initiatives; Gonzalo Martín-Villa, former Chief Innovation Officer for the company, will now lead its IoT and big data initiatives.
Other notable activity from 2019:
- Wayra and TheVentureCity partnered to co-invest in deep tech startups in Latin America, including AI, ML, IoT, and cybersecurity.
- Telefonica, Wayra, and CEmprende partnered on Colombia’s first IoT lab for entrepreneurs.
- Wayra Brasil and Liga Ventures were chosen by BNDESPAR to run the inaugural Programa BNDES Garagem for entrepreneurs. The four-month acceleration program in Rio included separate tracks for MVP and established projects, and a demo day in October 2019.
HIGHLIGHTED TRANSACTIONS AND EXITS WITHIN LATIN AMERICA
- Wayra Brasil made pre-seed investments in Arkhadia (AI/ML; formerly called Kamai) and Iotag (IoT); a seed investment in Ativa (IoT); a follow-on seed investment in Bem.Care (healthtech; formerly called Proradis); and a Series B investment in Docket (legaltech).
- Wayra Brasil exited Teravoz, a Brazilian VoIP services provider to small businesses and call centers, through an acquisition by Twilio, providing a 30x return.
- Wayra Brasil exited legaltech Mediaçao Online through a secondary sale. Mediaçao Online raised a US$3.5m investment from Redpoint eventures, Canary and others in 2019. Read LAVCA’s interview with co-founder and CEO Melissa Gava.
- Wayra Brasil also exited insurtech Pier.
- Wayra Colombia made a pre-seed investment in Espacios Digitales (IoT); a seed investment in Peiky (sales management SaaS); a Series A investment in Hybrico (AI); and a Series B investment in Addi (fintech).
- Wayra Mexico made a follow-on investment in Atlantia Search (market intelligence) with participation from Redwood Ventures and GC Capital. Three of the company’s four founders are women.
- Wayra Peru made a pre-seed investment in IMIX (Colombia-based fintech) and a follow-on Series A investment in Quantum Talent (SaaS).
- Wayra Peru exited Culqi (fintech).
- Wayra Argentina made a pre-seed investment in TuVideoCV (SaaS) and a seed investment in BotBit (SaaS).
- Wayra Argentina exited adtech SocialTools via acquisition, and exited software platforms Gear Translations and Conversalab via secondary sale.
- Wayra Chile made a seed investment in Colektia (fintech) and a pre-seed investment in GoQuantum (cybersecurity).
💡 TELEFONICA INNOVATION VENTURES
- InvestTech made seed investments in Brazilian SaaS platforms ClipEscola, Skore and Dattos.
- Axon Partners made a growth investment in Billpocket, a Mexican legaltech/financial services platform.
View a recap of Telefonica’s 2018 investment activity in Latin America here.