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Q & A With CEO of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator
by Startacus Admin
Often describing itself as a ‘the original tech startup’ it’s no surprise that Microsoft are keen to lend a helping hand to today’s innovative and disruptive tech startups, as they strive to develop, scale, and perfect their digital craft!
At the head of the Microsoft's entrepreneurial aspirations is their ‘Ventures’ department, who have become a global force in entrepreneurial support provision, with a growing footprint of accelerators and innovation centres all over the world, including right here in the UK!
Microsoft Ventures London Accelerator
The aim of this mentor-driven programme is to remove any roadblocks to developing your tech startup to a point where you can scale into a sustainable and high-achieving enterprise.
Over a 12 week period beginning in October 2015, up to 15 later-stage startups (depending on team size) will be treated to a fully immersive accelerator with an impressive hoard of business supercharging benefits. (You can find out more about the programme, as well as the benefits of being involved on the Microsoft Ventures London site!)
As always competition for places on this programme will be very tough, so to give our readers a helping hand we have undertaken a little Q & A with Andrew Webber acting CEO of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator.
Here he gives exclusive insights into the programme as well as top tips for the application process, and the inside scoop on what the judges will be on the lookout for this time around!
Hi Andrew! So first off, the Microsoft Ventures website claims that the programme ‘Empowers Entrepreneurs’, what exactly do you mean by that?
We work with entrepreneurs at every stage of maturity to help them get the tools they need to grow, scale and succeed. From mentoring and access to customers to technical tools, Microsoft truly does help empower entrepreneurs to succeed. In particular, for the upcoming programme, we are looking to work with teams who are a bit further along and have raised upwards of £300k-£500k.
So aside from not taking any equity from participating startups, what is special about the Microsoft Ventures incubator programme? Why should a startup founder reading this sit up and take notice of this accelerator over the countless others also seeking applications?
Many startups come to the accelerator because they want the association with and credibility of the Microsoft brand, which is one of the most trusted and admired brands in the world. We also have one of the largest 'little black books' of any company out there, so we can provide unprecedented access to customers. These are two very compelling reasons, but also the quality of the programme and curriculum, the mentors and the MS Ventures team is also top notch.
If Microsoft Ventures don’t take any equity or expect startups to use their specific technology, then where’s the value of running the accelerator from your perspective?
Microsoft is the original tech startup but in recent years, fewer startups are building on our tech. The accelerator programme is a living demonstration of our commitment to helping startups and delivering value into the community. Of course, we would like startups to adopt our platforms, but we don't make this mandatory.
Now that the application process is in full-swing, are there any particular ‘types’ of startup that you would like to see represented in the cohort? Have you found that the programme is especially well suited to startups from any particular industry?
We are looking for strong teams with big, disruptive ideas. The team is always the most important and founders that are open and ‘mentorable’ will have the best success in the programme.
With regards to the initial application can you share any tips / advice that might boost a business' chances of being shortlisted for the next stage of the process?
Really demonstrate the cohesiveness of the team, track record and traction. Also the video is your first impression, so make it work hard for you. Make it clear what you do and that you're the team to do it.
Can you tell us a little about some of the success stories of the last cohort? Have any of the startups gone on to see significant growth or receive a large amount of investment?
It is still early to see big investments coming out of the last cohort as it only finished in June and it takes a few months to land funding, but many of the teams are well on their way to raising their series A. You will, however have seen FOVE, one of our alums in the augmented reality space, gracing the cover of Forbes Japan this month and also IoT company SAM Labs featured in the Sunday Times. Momentum is really building for our alums.
We think that having an Alumni Programme is a really great idea. Can you give us a sense of some of the ongoing support that startups can receive by being involved?
Our alums get access to our global alumni network, so they can get help and support from their peers in startups around the world. Also we provide workshops and webinars to help them get to the get level as well as access to events and also offices in countries where they want to expand to or may be visiting. The programme is always evolving to offer high value to the startups.
Thanks for the chat Andrew and best of luck with the upcoming accelerator!