Wayra start-up diary: the first month

Hello. I'm Josh, the CEO of Night Zookeeper, a children's education and entertainment website. We are lucky to be among the 16 companies taking part in Wayra UK.

Wayra UK kicked off a couple of weeks ago with the teams taking up residence at the office space provided as part of the academy in central London. The space is pretty spectacular and has been designed very much with collaboration between the teams in mind. We have already benefited from these closer relationships with other entrepreneurs, developers and designers and I would highly recommend that new businesses try to replicate these learning experiences, either through attending meet-ups, applying for a similar accelerator programme, looking for shared office space or becoming a member of a start-up hub.

In the first week of the academy we heard from O2 brand innovations chief Gavin Thompson and we also had the opportunity to talk with many mobile device manufacturers. Gavin explained that branding is about great ideas and he urged teams to imagine what they would say to someone about their business if they were a door-to-door salesmen.

His advice was to have a clear strategy, rather than a complicated brand architecture, messaging pyramid or communications mash potato (I may have made that last one up.) This is valuable advice at a time when many companies here are still establishing their brands and shaping their reputations.

His advice reminded me of the first activity we were asked to do when we joined the academy. Ashley Stockwell, the academy director, asked us for our 'pub pitch' - what would we say to someone who knew nothing about our business if we met them down the pub? When you factor in the potential for inebriation it becomes a very tough challenge to explain many technology businesses. They gave us beer mats and asked us to have a go. This is my effort for Night Zookeeper:

"Night Zookeeper is a children's education and entertainment website where children create their own magical animals, write stories about them and play creative games. We turn children from online consumers into creators."

After spending the weekend at the Wellington Festival of Education, speaking to over 1,000 teachers about Night Zookeeper, I can tell you that this exercise proved very helpful!

Learning how to present your product or service is an essential business skill. My co-founder Paul, who is a primary school teacher, and I had an unexpected opportunity to practice before Wayra even began. The week before it started we flew to Madrid to talk about Night Zookeeper alongside Carlos Domingo, the CEO of Innovation at Telef√≥nica, at the Red Innova conference in Madrid. It was a fantastic opportunity to make some important business contacts in Spain and Latin America and, apart from the initial nervous moment that we walked on stage, Paul and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Last Friday we officially opened the academy with many entrepreneurs, investors and journalists coming through the doors. We had the opportunity to meet and present our idea to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. He seemed quite taken with our prototype drawing application the 'Drawing Torch' and created a masterpiece that was actually featured on BBC news.

I will selfishly be reporting monthly about the exciting opportunities we have here at Wayra. I say selfishly because firstly, I hope it will be a record of it all for me and secondly because I would love to hear more opinions and thoughts about the process we are going through. An accelerator programme is great, but the internet is the ultimate teaching tool.

There's more to come so please leave me any questions or comments you have below.

To find out more about Night Zookeper click here.

To read more about Wayra UK click here.

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