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Microsoft begins start-up accelerator programme

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Microsoft has begun a powerful mentorship programme for technology startups across four locations – India, US, Israel and China. The programme brings together senior technical people from Microsoft, influential business leaders, domain experts, venture capitalists and angel investors to handhold select startups through an intense four-month long period.

In India, the company has identified 11 startups to go through the first such programme. S Somasegar, corporate vice president for the developer division in Microsoft, who was in Bangalore for the launch, said the four locations chosen were the current hotspots for entrepreneurship and startups in technology. “Our plan is to have two-three groups in a year going through this programme,” he said.

The programme is similar to those done by TechStars and Y Combinator in the US. However, unlike these two, which typically pick a 6% stake in the startup for the facilities they offer, Microsoft will not take a stake, nor will it have any rights to the IPs that the startups may create. But it will likely gain from the startups’ use and promotion of its tools. Microsoft looks to be particularly keen to promote its Azure cloud platform, given that the programme is named ‘Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure’.

The cloud is hugely beneficial to startups because it substantially reduces initial costs and provides easy global reach to customers.

TechStars has a 13-week programme, and Wikipedia says that of the 114 companies that have graduated from this programme since it was started in 2007, 98 are active and profitable, 8 have been acquired, and 8 have failed, a 92% rate of success. In contrast, the success rate for most technology start-ups is estimated at 10%. Only 1% of applicants to the TechStars programme is accepted for mentorship current news.

The Microsoft programme in India will be held in Bangalore, where the company has dedicated a large space within its R&D facility for the startups to interact with mentors. “We have more than 60 elite mentors and we are providing the best workspace, the finest infrastructure and all the tools that startups would need to build a successful business from India,” said Amit Chatterjee, MD of Microsoft India R&D.