- New platform by Microsoft will support founders in Asia at every stage of their startup journey with access to more than US$300,000 in benefits including technology and tools from Microsoft and partners
- Startups will also be able to gain mentorship and skilling opportunities with industry experts and Microsoft Learn
- Microsoft is committed to Asia’s startup ecosystem and founders including a broadening of programs that support the needs of regional startups at every stage of development
ASIA PACIFIC, 31 MARCH 2022 – Microsoft today launched its Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub in Asia, to empower startups’ ambitions and fuel innovation to drive economic and societal progress for Asia and beyond.
Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is a new digital and truly inclusive platform for Founders in Asia. The platform offers over US$300,000 worth of benefits and credits, giving startups free access to the technology, tools, and resources they need to build and run their business. From the most trusted, secure, open-source friendly and compliant cloud platform, to best-in-class developer and productivity tools including GitHub Enterprise, Visual Studio Enterprise and Microsoft 365.
Beyond access to technology, Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub will empower entrepreneurs to innovate and grow by connecting them with mentors who will provide them with industry, business, and technical support to guide them through their next business milestones. In addition, Founders will have access to Microsoft Learn and a variety of startup and unicorn programs to help them build connections with customers and accelerate their growth.
Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is designed specifically for early-stage startups to lower the barriers of business creation, be a catalyst for entrepreneurship and innovation, and contribute to easing the journey from an idea to a unicorn. It is available to all startups in Asia, including those without third-party backing, as part of Microsoft’s commitment to empower startups’ ambitions to drive innovation from Asia to the world.
Asia as a Hub for Global Innovation
Asia has undoubtedly become a hotbed of innovation over recent years, with one of the most dynamic startup scenes anywhere. CB Insights reports that Asia was the #1 region for global venture deals in 2021. Asia is also home to three out of the top ten countries leading in the number of unicorns created year on year – China, India and South Korea. In India, a unicorn is created almost every week.
“Born in Asia creativity and innovation is accelerating Asia’s position to become the startup region of the world. We are a trusted partner who wants to empower the ambition of startups from idea to unicorn. As a platform company, our cloud services and solutions are designed to empower founders to concentrate on what they do best – innovate at their own pace. Our aim is to give startups access to the technology that will power their innovation, connect them with customers, and an ecosystem of developers, partners and investors to help them scale in Asia and beyond,” shared Jesus Martin, Chief Strategy, Microsoft Asia.
“Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub was created following extensive research and conversations with hundreds of founders who explicitly shared their need for access to a digital ecosystem that promotes opportunities and democratizes innovation regardless of background, location, progress, or passions. We look forward to how our new offering will support more founders in Asia and provide access to the technology, tools, and resources they need to build and run their business,” explained Martin.
Championing the Growth of Asian SaaS startups
Across Asia, Microsoft cloud is the platform of choice to empower the ambition of startups whether consumer or B2B SaaS solutions to enable them to scale across Asia and globally.
In China over the past ten years, Microsoft has supported the growth of over 700 start-ups and the Microsoft ScaleUp Program has been ranked as “Best Accelerator” in China for 6 years in a row by China Venture Info. Yanchao Li, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of six-month old startup, Shopastro, has since rapidly scaled the cross-border e-commerce service platform with Microsoft cloud. “My ambition has been to empower local sellers to leverage Shopastro as a powerful platform to take their businesses and products beyond China and into the global market. Thanks to Microsoft cloud we have been able to scale our business.”
A recent report by Bain reports that Indian SaaS firms could corner about eight to nine percent of the global market by 2025. Salesken – a conversation intelligence platform which assists sales representatives in real time customer conversations – relies on Microsoft cloud as well as its rich ecosystem and co-sell opportunities.
Surga Thilakan, Co-Founder and CEO of Salesken commented, “Starting my business has not been without its challenges, including my family’s concern in leaving my stable job. Thanks to my connections in the industry, I have been able to expand Salesken’s vision and scale, and attract investment from Sequoia India, and a Series B round of funding led by M12, Microsoft’s Venture fund.”
Leveraging the power of cloud, the Microsoft ecosystem, talent and entrepreneurial spirit, startups from across Asia are creating innovations helping to transform enterprises and industries. Japanese startup Scalar was started after its Co-Founder and CEO Wataru Fukatsu realized that the issue around trust in blockchain technology could be resolved by combining the scalability of a distributed database with the tamper detection technology of blockchain. Based on the trusted Microsoft cloud platform, Scalar is now supplying services to enterprise companies. Now, it is co-innovating with Toyota Motor Corporation, to enable automatic proof preservation for large volumes of electronic documents and the preservation of electronic documents that exceed 10 years, even when timestamps expire.
“We are thrilled to be able to leverage Microsoft technology and create innovative solutions for enterprises like Toyota Motor Company, allowing them to introduce significant efficiencies and redefine their business operations,” says Wataru Fukatsu.
In the recent Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER), the Philippines was reported to have an ecosystem value of USD548M. This momentum is likewise validated by the fact that venture deal activity in the PH did not slow down throughout the pandemic. In November 2021, close to $1 billion had already been invested into Philippine tech companies, bringing the country’s 5-year tally across the US$1.7 billion mark.
The same ecosystem report found that commerce and fintech continue to drive the upward growth trajectory of startups. According to Statista, the Philippines’ e-commerce market size in 2019 was valued at four billion US dollars and is estimated to hit a valuation of USD15B come 2025, effectively quadrupling its size in six years.
Local policies and regulations in place are poised to further enable growth for Philippine-based startups—such as the Philippine Innovation Act, Innovative Startup Act, CREATE Act, and eCommerce Philippines 2022 Roadmap, which are bringing together different players in the market to accelerate the ecosystem’s steady momentum.
Empowering Societal Impact in Asia and Beyond
Across Asia Pacific, Naomi Vowels, the Co-Founder of Givvable is helping businesses solve challenges around sourcing and tracking supplier sustainability credentials. “I have always been passionate about sustainability and wanted to combine the power of technology with a topic I am passionate about. The Microsoft cloud platform has enabled us to help more businesses spend with impact. At Givvable, we are replacing hours of manual work with a fully automated, smart solution that leverages Microsoft’s AI and Machine Learning software and Power BI to find, capture and track supplier sustainability.”
CEO Owen Darby of Phytrac, a New Zealand-based cleantech company that combines science, technology and nature to produce sustainable solutions by optimizing phytoremediation through a dynamic driven platform, said, “As an entrepreneur, it is important that I can focus on my core offering while having access to technology, tools and resources that allow me to easily build my business. For someone that doesn’t have a development background, what I’ve found most useful with Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is the Power Platform, Power Automate and Power BI Pro.”
Katrina Lee, CEO of Singapore-based Savour, a B2B platform aimed at securing savings for SMEs, nonprofits and social enterprises while also tackling food insecurity and wastage, added, “Most startups spend so much time trying to find the right partner and the right support. More than just having the best tools, it’s important to be able to connect with experts that can help you unlock the full potential of these tools to increase your productivity, grow your customer base and even improve your marketing. The ability to connect with mentors within Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub has been a big help for me.”
A Long-Term Commitment to Empowering Ambitions of Founders in Asia
Microsoft continues to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to Asia’s startup ecosystem and founders. This has included a multi-year partnership with global startup platform She Loves Tech, announced last year, to provide women-led startups in the community with access to Microsoft technologies, dedicated programs and global ecosystem.
Microsoft Philippines has likewise partnered with local incubators with the goal of further enabling startups through its technology. Among such partnerships include the Asian Institute of Management’s Dado Banato Incubator (AIM-DBI), a Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-backed program, which they support together with Rhipe Philippines. Such collaboration aims to equip Philippine-based startups with Microsoft Azure—ensuring the security, scalability, and sustainability of their platforms. Currently, the program includes nine startups, which are set to graduate come June.
Just last September, Microsoft also launched its pilot incubation program with QBO Innovation Hub, with the aim of accelerating the growth of three enterprise-focused and high potential startups. The intensive six-month program included a financial grant from QBO, as well as technology support and mentorship from Microsoft and its partner distributor, Crayon. Following the graduation of the startups from the program last March 25, Microsoft, QBO, and Crayon are working on succeeding iterations of the program to support even more startups through 2022.
Microsoft also expanded Project Amplify, in collaboration with Accenture to support startups across Asia focused on sustainability and social impact, with hands-on support and technologies, mentoring and collaboration opportunities.
“Microsoft believes startups from Asia have the potential to change the world. In fact, they have already played a role in transforming Asia’s economy. Asian-born businesses have changed e-commerce, fintech, social media and gaming. They have given us SuperApps, which are changing the way we live. As the cloud platform of choice, we will continue to work with our partners and regional ecosystem to get technology and resources in the hands of startup founders in Asia, to empower them to innovate and ultimately succeed,” concluded Martin.
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
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