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Microsoft for Startups

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by Startacus Admin

microsoft and startups
Microsoft has recently generated quite a bit of noise around the re-launch of its startup programme Whitespaceglobally and the opening of its new Reactor space in London with a ten year commitment equivalent to $20m here in the UK. London based technology & services company, Whitespace asked a number of startup founders for their thoughts on this recent set of announcements - here's their responses.

"Microsoft has recently generated quite a bit of noise around the re-launch of its startup programme globally and the opening of its new Reactor space in London with a ten year commitment equivalent to $20m here in the UK. The Whitespace team facilitate a community of over 40 technology startup Founders that come together to learn from each other and also connect. With this recent significant set of announcements from one of the largest (tech) companies in the world we asked the Founders for their response to the announcement.

A small selection of the responses are pasted below. In summary though it is an overall positive response but with some notes of caution – a key one to be addressed is the Microsoft being more clear as to their motivations in re-launching the programme.  A number of Founders have asked “what’s in it for Microsoft?” and the perceived lack of clarity has created, to a degree, some cynicism.  The other repeated challenge is with knowing how to get plugged into the programme and Microsoft as an organisation."

“The start-up program is exactly what startups like ours have been crying out for. From what you know already at MeVitae, we spent 3 years in R&D phase building our tech and recently jumped into commercialisation, which is all about sales, sales, and more sales. Anything that accelerates growth and revenue, especially to other enterprise firms is a good thing. BizSpark is serving us well from the tech side and now it is great to see that there is something from the biz dev side too. It is all about the era of scale-ups!”  Riham Satti, Co-Founder of MeVitae

sideways6“I’d say that this sounds like a really positive step for companies in our position (scale up) but that it’s perhaps restrictive for companies a little earlier on. I can understand why they’ve made that change, though.  For us – the co-sell is exciting. We have done a lot of work over the last 6 months securing our Gold Partner Status and are now working on the co-sell piece but until now it’s not been hugely startup friendly.  I’d also mention that it’s not entirely obvious what to do to find out more about the scaleup programme.”  Will Read, Founder of Sideways6

“I really love what Microsoft is doing in terms of its new approach. I saw a similar model at Jaguar LandRover and it really helps startups to have access to internal corporate resources and also to have opportunities to pitch alongside Microsoft on new client engagements. I am curious though what % profit sharing they are asking in return for participating in this network OR if it is free?”  Eren Erman, Chief Commercial Officer, Motivii

“Microsoft has an image problem. While it transformed the way computing has been done, it did little to change the way its workplace functions. I think Google & Facebook are truly seen as HR innovative businesses whereas Microsoft seems, well, bureaucratic & bloated. Satya Nadella (one of the most inspirational leaders of our time) has been a game changer in moving that perception, but so much more needs to be done. Startups do not identify with Microsoft & they don’t understand us. I would almost argue that launching a challenger brand a bit like Telefonica has done with Wayra would have been a great idea.

The other thing that worries me is – why are they doing it? Is it altruism? Or a ploy to sell more SQL licences, get more startups in Azure in the hope that they find “the increasinglySnapchat” like Google Cloud did? I have no idea how to access it. It seems like a programme that you access through other accelerators (the website is awful – no call to action, phone number, form, etc). Is it? I don’t know. I ended up on a page that showed me accelerators/partners, but these accelerators also have credits available with AWS/Google Cloud as well. There may be $500m at stake, but it seems that unless you know someone in Microsoft that is running the programme, this is going to be just another idea in the cloud of dreams.  Perhaps I am being more scathing than others, but I’ve tried to work with them before & there seemed to be third world governments that were more accessible.”  Satish Jayakumar, Co-Founder, Increasingly 

“Helping early stage startups win its first customers is the most valuable thing an accelerator/venture can offer. The common model of providing training, access to mentors and a demo day in front of prospective investors and customers are helpful, but stop way short of a program where the output is a customer win. If Microsoft gets this right, where right is about getting startups in front of potential customers while using, backing and complementing their propositions, I can see immense value in their new startup engagement program.”    Cristian Parrino, Co-Founder, Greengame

About Whitespace

WhitespaceWhitespace is focused on helping high growth technology startups to build a strong and repeatable business as quickly as possible. We do this by learning from our ecosystem engagements and partnership with technology scale-ups, large global Corporates and the professional investor community.  By working closely with these three communities we identify both Service and technology product offerings to address significant challenges that are blocking the ability for tech scale up Founders to grow their business; for Corporates to find and engage with technology scale ups as part of an open innovation approach and for professional Investors who are looking for well qualified and exciting deal flow.  

We engage with these three communities 1:1 but also via three Clubs that we facilitate and run.  The Corporate Innovation Club launched in June last year and has just under 60 Corporate members.  The Founder Innovation Club launched in December last year and currently has 60 Founder members.  The Investor Innovation Club launched in February 2018 and currently has over 40 individual and company members.

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Published on: 5th April 2018

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