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Auckland startup wins UK deal

18 Jul 2012

Auckland startup Makelight Interactive has won a contract with Wayra UK, a technology accelerator programme run by Telefonica, better known as the owners of the O2 brand.

After competing in a Dragon’s Den style pitching contest, the Kiwi company was selected as one of 16 projects out of 1031 entries. They were the only project from outside Europe to make the cut.

For commercial reasons, only limited information about the Makelight application can be distributed at this stage, although their pitch to Wayra was to 'turn people, via their mobile phones, into pixels creating a giant screen at a live event'.

"Makelight is an interactive mobile engagement platform for use at large scale live events consisting of a mobile app and a custom wifi router kit to facilitate the engagement," the pitch reads.

Wayra is a Telefonica Digital initiative whose main aim is to promote innovation and identify talent across the globe.

The terms of the deal give Makelight a €50,000 cash injection plus six months use of the Wayra Academy in London’s tech district – including office space, technology and mentors.

Telefonica will receive a 10% stake in the comnpany along with first right of refusal on the product in December.

"We are thrilled to have the kiwis join the London Wayra Academy,” says Simon Devonshire, director of Wayra in Europe. "We can't wait to see Makelight come to life, and hope to be the first to test it light-up audiences in O2's famous concert arenas across Europe.

"London is a global centre of innovation and through Wayra we hope to find the Facebooks and Zyngas of the future.”

Makelight Interactive’s inclusion in the Wayra Academy is a huge boost to the project given the advisory, mentoring and networking services on offer.

"We see Wayra as a bootcamp for great ideas,” says Joanna Alpe, creative and business developer of Makelight Interactive, "an introduction to global clients, a way to be challenged and nurtured, making us commercially robust and market ready.

"We seek to revolutionise the way live events involve and connect to the audience, all over the world.

"While we're doing work in London to develop the project, New Zealand is home and we're keen to show that Kiwi creative technology is more than just the films we're so famous for."

Auckland Mayor Len Brown praised the innovation and hard work of the four Aucklanders who make up Makelight Interactive.

"Being selected for the Wayra Academy is a big step for the development of the Makelight app. The new Auckland is all about innovation and it’s great to see New Zealand creativity being recognised as up there with the best in the world.”