Bangalore, India, November 25, 2014: Microsoft Ventures today announced the graduation of 11 technology startups from the fifth batch of its Accelerator Program. At a Demo Day organized here today, an audience of 900 plus industry influencers, venture capitalists and angel investors witnessed the accelerated progress made by CryptoPhoto, DabKick, Fairket, FlatPebble, NiftyWindow, Playblazer, Appknox, DeltaX, ProHance, Tallenge and Trutech during the last four months at the Accelerator Program. Demo Day was part of day-long proceedings which included a new set of Think Next initiatives being announced as well.
Congratulating the graduating companies, Ravi Narayan, Director, Microsoft Ventures in India,said: “This batch has made considerable progress during the four months with us, with seven of the 11 closing deals with clients outside India. Overseas VCs and investors are showing keen interest in our startups. It’s really heartening to see how our efforts are paying off in helping our startups get recognized at a global level. We are now gearing up to welcome our sixth batch, due to start early next year. Applications are coming in, and many are from international startups!”
Tzahi (Zack) Weisfeld, Head of Microsoft Ventures Global Accelerators, who was present at the event, said: “Microsoft Ventures is committed to catapult startups from a napkin sketch stage to becoming international sensations. Over the course of the last two years, we have set up Accelerator programs in seven countries and forged more than 200 partnerships with local accelerators, incubators and other players in the ecosystem. My interactions with our startups and industry partners have given me some firsthand learnings and comparative insights into the global startup ecosystem.”
Elaborating further, Zack said: “Every startup ecosystem is unique—in opportunities, challenges, culture and therefore in its level of maturity. While India still has a way to go before it catches up with either Silicon Valley or Israel on the startup ladder, I can see a lot of very positive changes happening here. Some very interesting ideas are emerging from India, which startups in US or Israel would never have perceived as a business worth pursuing. Innovative startups, backed by experienced as well as new founders are emerging in new technology areas, focusing on deep domain solutions. Some of them are right here in this batch, which graduates today. I have been tracking their progress over the course of the program, and am pleased at what they have achieved so far. I wish them all the very best in their journey ahead.”
Sharing his experience, Venkatesan Seshadri, CEO, FlatPebble, said: “Our four months in the Accelerator Program was a period of intense focus which helped us grow demand for our services 700 per cent and expand our offerings, thanks to the mentorship, enabling infrastructure and helpful peers. We are really happy we got this opportunity to accelerate our dreams!”**
The 11 startups which graduated today will join the 63 strong alumni network of Microsoft Ventures in India. While their four month stay at the Accelerator Program ended today, it also marked the beginning of another life-long association. As alumni, they will continue to be supported by the Microsoft Ventures team, both in India and abroad, as they work on customer connect and technology advancement.
|**Startup||When they joined Accelerator||What we achieved together|
|Appknox||Beta product; 50 developers||Public launch; Go-to-market plan; 5 paying customers, 15 more in pipeline; 150 developers|
|CryptoPhoto||Beta product; 2 pilots||Pivoting to monetizing authentication from pure security play; 8 pilots|
|DabKick||Beta launch, 30k users||Public launch, 55k users|
|Fairket||Alpha product||Beta launch, Go-to-Market plan; 10 apps, 5 studios, 20 in pipeline|
|FlatPebble||Early revenue, 65 jobs/month||700% growth to 500+jobs/month; transactions worth INR 10mn|
|Nifty Window||5 beta customers||15 brands, 15k paying stores|
|Playblazer||2 Appstore featured games live||3 new games, 5 more in pipeline|
|DeltaX||$1mn/month ad spends; 55 brands||$1.6mn/month ad spends; 100+ brands|
|ProHance||Initial traction. Sales in India||30,000 users, launching US sales|
|Tallenge||V1 product, early traction||V2 launched; 100% increase in monthly visits|
|Trutech||Beta product with OEMs||Traction with large OEMs|
Demo Day was part of day-long proceedings where a new set of Think Next initiatives were also announced. Microsoft Ventures in India launched Think Next along with its startup ecosystem partners in May 2014 to deepen conversations on matters that will move the needle for the ecosystem. While the Think Next initiatives continue to be implemented programmatically, the roundtables help take stock and decide on the next set of steps.
As part of today’s Think Next initiatives, Microsoft Ventures, in association with Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) and 91 Springboard, saw 15+ accelerators and incubators sharing best practices and discussing ways of collaborating with each other. Four roundtables were also organized, on the following topics:
Understanding trends in corporate development (in association with iSPIRT): The panel discussed the key challenges Indian entrepreneurs face during the merger and acquisition (M&A) phase. Over the last six months, experts at iSPIRT have gained a ringside view of what is trending in the startup ecosystem and this formed the basis of the discussion. VCs and startups talked about their upcoming requirements for the next 1-2 years and the need to have a strong pipeline of up-and-coming companies which require funding.
How to create software-as-a-service models for the Indian market (in association with iSPIRT): The panel showcased different scenarios of what has worked in the past for startup businesses and what hasn’t – especially in desk marketing and selling. Creating software-as-a-service (SAAS) models tailored to the needs of small businesses in India was a key aspect that came up in the discussion.
Women entrepreneurs in technology (in association with TIE Bangalore, Anita Borg Institute and WeConnect): Panel members discussed the unique set of benefits their organizations offer to empower women entrepreneurs in technology. They also talked about the need for improved collaboration among women entrepreneurs to remove the barriers for women in business.
Dancing with giants (in association with NASSCOM): The discussions centered on ways in which corporates can collaborate and share best practices to get maximum value from each other’s learning.
Geetha Kannan, India Managing Director, Anita Borg Institute(ABI), who participated in Think Next for the first time, said: “ Supporting women entrepreneurs in technology is a key part of ABI’s mission. Over the years ABI has developed programs to support entrepreneurship among women as we believe that women are vital to building technology that the world needs. When it comes to enabling women entrepreneurs in technology, there are diverse initiatives at work, which are often out of sync. It is certainly possible for different players in the startup horizon to work hand in hand to narrow down gaps significantly and make a real difference. Think Next is a step toward this objective.”
About Microsoft Ventures
Microsoft Ventures is a global initiative to help entrepreneurs build great companies. Working with startups at every stage of maturity, the initiative provides the tools, resources, and expertise startups need to succeed. Visit Microsoft Ventures at www.microsoftventures.com to learn more about how Microsoft is helping the next generation of smart companies take flight.