Startups will come for the network & stay for the business

Barcelona became, once more, the capital of the tech world for a week at the end of February. This was my 6th MWC in a row!, while I attended my initial four events as an entrepreneur and now I get to experience the event from the corporate perspective.  Which means I get to do much less pitching and hustling and there is much more outbound communication of our initiatives to be done.

This year will be remembered as the year of the foldable device, which will enable cool applications in the near future, and there were lots of talks and demos on the promise of 5G, which looks closer every day.

MWC and particularly 4YFN, its sister event fully dedicated to startups and innovation, are key events for us at Open Innovation. It is a great opportunity for our teams to meet with entrepreneurs from all over the world, scout for exciting new projects and see what are the trends which will define the future. 

As our Chairman, Jose María Alvarez Pallete mentioned, Tech is already here, it is not the time of Tech, it is the time of VALUES. We need to devote time and efforts to discuss and define how will we as a society use technology to make ourselves more human. The motto «make our world more human by connecting lives» resonates strongly in me.

And there is one sentence which Satya Nadella said during his conversation with our CEO, which I am certain will become a mantra over the next years: «Trust is not something you claim, it is something you have to Earn each day«.

So, back to our participation in the event, to give you a glimpse of our activities at MWC and 4FYN, we participated in 10 panels and keynote sessions reaching directly over 4000 people, we organized an IoT startups meetup, displayed 15 startups of our portfolio in our Wayra booth, hold 4 demo sessions with startups in the Telefonica booth, met journalists from all over the globe, launched a calls for startups with Profuturo, scouted for new trends and met some interesting entrepreneurs and partners.

And after all this frenzy, what are my key take-aways?

  1. 4YFN is clearly becoming a go to place for many senior executives from the MWC event, to meet eager entrepreneurs and scout for innovative ideas. You could see many innovation tours and groups of execs in suits flocking to the startups booths and attentively listening to the entrepreneurs demos and pitches.
  2. I have the feeling that after our positioning and communication efforts during 2018, the whole ecosystem is aware of our new strategy, focused on generating joint business opportunities with more mature startups in our strategic areas of interest. #wescalestartups
  3. On the tech trends side of things, I was impressed by the smooth experience you can already have in console-less games, where the whole computing is happening on the cloud and you can have 4K quality and a great multiplayer experience. And yes, thanks to 5G. I think that «Netflix style» subscription services for videogames will be a clear use case where customers will be willing to pay an additional fee in the future.
  4. I could not find THE killer app for 5G, but as Ben Evans wrote, «the killer app for 5G is probably, well, ‘faster 4G’«. And I am sure that new entrepreneurs will use the new capabilities of the network to deliver awesome experiences and value to our customers, way beyond augmented or virtual reality.
  5. On the startups front, I could catch up with some of our great CEOs and was impressed by the growth and vision of Vilynx founder Elisenda Bou, building an AI brain which is now capable of extracting metadata from video and audio streams, and will soon learn to find insights in all kind of unstructured data sets.
  6. I could enjoy the experience of living the Australian Open from within thanks to YBVR’s live 360 video streams. Or I could see how Engidi is ready to deploy POCs with their connected safety helmets across industries with the help of Telefonica’s sales organization.  And that is just to cite some examples among many.
  7. I was also proud to visit some booths of our portfolio startups at the MWC, head to head with the grown ups, where Qustodio, Aerial, Marfeel or Tappx exposed their technologies and their muscle to tackle global challenges.

Let me conclude this post with a sentence that our CCDO, Mariano de Beer said during the event, which I feel summarizes our play pretty effectively: “Telefónica needs startups to grow, we are not here for the show. We want to do real business with startups”. He mentioned how 4 years ago we invested in some startups like Tappx, which are now heroes in the Spanish ecosystem, and we can be certain that 4 years from now (4YFN) startups we are starting to work with today, will define our future.

#wescalestartups and #startupsscaleus

Telefonica Open Innovation overall presence 
Our panels:
Innovation Drives Business: Integrating Disruptive Products & Services into a Telco’s Portfolio (@ 4YFN) with Christian Lindener 
Pressing the “Self-disrupt” Button: Lessons from the Front Lines (@ MWC) with Miguel Arias & others.
Together, We Ride – Collaboration in Mobility Sector (@ 4YFN) with Inês Oliveira & others.
A 360° View on Startup-Corporate Collaboration (@ 4YFN) with Agustin Moro & others.
We Scale Startups (Powered by Telefonica) (@ 4YFN) with Guenia Gawendo & others.
From Zero to Hero: Fastest-Growing Startups in Spain (Powered by Wayra) (@ 4YFN) with Mariano de Beer, Andres Saborido & others.
4YFN Investment Meetup (@ Movistar Centre) with Gary Steward & others. 
Cyber Security (Powered by Telefonica) (@ 4YFN). Speakers: Rames Sarwat (VP of Strategic Alliances at 11paths), Agustin Moro & others.
The Future of Transport: Hyperloop End2End Vision (@ 4YFN) with Inês Oliveira & others

Our portfolio presence at 4YFN/MWC19: Carto, Clevernet, Conntac, Eccocar, EmotionsAR, Engidi, Genially,  Ludus, PlazaPoints, RedSift, SocialGest, Tappx, Valerann, We are testers & YBVR.

IoT Activation program
Presentation of the project (its perks and benefits) and the new call in the 4YFN. and in the MWC.
Introduction to two Wayra-invested startups which are part of the first batch of the program: Eccocar and Engidi.
The second phase of the program has just been launched.