The Colombia Startup & Investor Summit, which will host its fifth annual innovation-focused event this fall, is now accepting applications from startups that want to participate in its program.
Any interested companies have until July 15 to submit their application to Wayra, the Telefónica-backed accelerator organizing this year’s summit on September 29 at the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce in the neighborhood of Salitre.
After the call for submissions ends, the organizers will chose the top selections for a chance to enter the Google Developers Launchpad program, receive mentorship from the IE Business School, and get an exclusive opportunity to pitch their business to around 30 investors. Those pitches will take place during a “speed dating” format the day before the forum begins, and Wayra said that past participants have successfully raised capital from the entrepreneurs on hand.
Lentes Plus, an online marketplace to purchase contact lenses in Colombia, participated in the Colombia Startup 2015 edition and was one of the success stories coming out of the event. “It was a great impulse to raise our first round of capital,” said Diego Mariño, co-founder Lentes Plus.
At the Colombia Startup 2016 summit, Apes, which uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to offer firms real-time inventory tracking, was the big winner. For coming in first place, the Bogotá-based company received assistance from the famed Springboard accelerator, which has helped turn many companies from small startups into big-money success stories.
Second place in 2016 went to Kiwi Campus, an on-demand delivery service for food and other goods that works on college campuses in Colombia — including University of Los Andes, National University of Colombia, and Javeriana University — as well as in the United States, Chile, and Mexico. CityTaxi, a cab-hailing app and member of the Wayra accelerator portfolio, took third prize.
In order to be eligible for this year’s program, applying startups must meet the following seven requirements, as described by the organizers of Colombia Startup 2017.
1. The business model and/or the proposed solution must be highly innovative. The proprietary technology will be valued and substantial improvements will be made to solutions that already exist.
2. Have sales and/or verifiable active users.
3. Have projection and/or regional or global scalability potential.
4. Have a structured team that demonstrates the knowledge and tools required to operate the startup. In addition, at least one of the founders must have exclusive dedication to it.
5. Must not have received more than $1 million USD in investment to date.
6. Have less than five years of operation (commercial stage). Spinoffs of existing companies with annual turnover of more than $1 million USD will not be considered.
7. The company must be incorporated in Colombia or have an interest in entering the Colombian market.
Carlos Castañeda, director of Wayra Colombia, says that he has seen the quality of the applicants and those participating in the program improve in each of the previous four summits. And he predicts that the trend will continue this year in an event that is expected to draw at least 1,500 attendees.
“Every time, we see more innovative talent in the country,” said Castañeda. “And it is precisely these types of scenarios that make entrepreneurs take off, giving them the opportunity to connect with actors who can become strategic allies of their growth.”
In addition to Wayra, Colombia Startups 2017 has support from Telefónica, the Bogota Chamber of Commerce, SENA, Google, Mercado Libre, IE Business School, the Bolivar Davivienda Foundation, KREAB Colombia, .CO Internet, and Pappcorn.
Photo credit: Wayra, Colombia Startup 2016