Deshpande Foundation, Microsoft Ventures partner to launch Sandbox Startups

Hubli, August 25, 2014: Deshpande Foundation and Microsoft Ventures in India announced a partnership to launch Sandbox Startups, an incubator focused on nurturing startups in tier two and three cities of India. The three-year collaboration was formalized with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) here on Saturday, August 23, in the presence of Dr Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, Founder, Deshpande Foundation, Mr Jairam Ramesh, Former Minister, Government of India, Mr Rajinish Menon, Director, Microsoft Ventures in India, Mr Naveen Jha, CEO, Deshpande Foundation, Mr Phanindra Sama, CEO, and other industry leaders.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion of the launch, Mr Naveen Jha, CEO, Deshpande Foundation, said: “Unlike tier one cities, most small cities lack adequate support system to nurture startups. Consequently, startups and startup potentials in these region do not have access to requisite training, mentoring and a sandbag to try out their entrepreneurial stints. Sandbox Startups is aimed at providing a launch pad for aspiring entrepreneurs in tier two and three cities so that they can validate their business ideas, sharpen business acumen, develop products and launch solutions to the market. Innovations by startups groomed under the program will add vibrancy to the ecosystem from those at the bottom of the pyramid.”

“The objective of this partnership is to work in an inclusive manner to ensure that all relevant stakeholders, such as early stage entrepreneurs, academia, students, the venture capital community, mentors, advisors, high-net-worth individuals and corporates, are active participants in the innovation ecosystem,” he added.

Mr. Rajinish Menon, Director, Microsoft Ventures in India, said: “Indian startups from across the country are building products that are addressing global and local challenges. As the culture of innovation spreads, it’s fascinating to see the kind of problems that startups from smaller towns are trying to solve. Our partnership with Deshpande Foundation aims to engage with entrepreneurs from smaller towns at every stage of their journey from ideation to maturity. At Microsoft, we are extremely excited to help incubators roll out products and raise capital to fund their growth, eventually benefiting India’s budding entrepreneurial ecosystem. And this specific endeavor is aimed at entrepreneurs from smaller towns which have a less mature ecosystem to nurture them. Startups can call Microsoft’s Jumpstart hotline on 1800 2002114 to know more about the program and how to be a part of it.”

Deshpande Foundation in India actively nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship through various programs in its three sandbox regions – North Karnataka, Nizamabad in Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. Partnering with Microsoft Ventures is a key step to support and nurture incubators, moving them to the next level by providing them an opportunity to get exposed to high end technology, get trained and mentored by professionals. Both Microsoft Ventures and Deshpande Foundation will play a significant role to mentor the startups under this incubator.

Imparting relevant skills is also essential for the students and entrepreneurs to succeed. Through this partnership, Deshpande Foundation is also launching a new skill development program to ensure that the students and entrepreneurs have access to cutting edge technology training.

About Deshpande Foundation
The Deshpande Foundation, founded by global business leader and philanthropist Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande and Mrs. Jaishree Deshpande, has operations in India, Canada and the USA. The Foundation is focusing its efforts in India on “building an ecosystem” to nurture Innovative Social Entrepreneurs. The Foundation’s efforts surround around the unique ’Social Innovation Sandbox’ in Hubli, Karnataka, India to create an ecosystem similar to Silicon Valley with focused on Social Entrepreneurship. In the last eight years, the ‘Sandbox’ has gained remarkable success having worked with over 100 organizations, six million people and a dozen for profits and proud to have proved over a dozen proofs of concepts for social innovation. For more information, visit us at

About Microsoft Ventures
Microsoft Ventures is a global initiative to help entrepreneurs build great companies. We work with startups at every stage of maturity to provide the tools, resources, and expertise they need to succeed. The initiative is broad-based, and includes a community program, accelerators, and a seed fund. Our approach helps startups scale their business, bring innovative services to market and reach new customers. Visit Microsoft Ventures at to learn more about how Microsoft is helping the next generation of smart companies take flight.

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