After running five start-up accelerator batches in India, Microsoft Ventures launched two new programmes on Wednesday — Accelerator Plus and Scale Up — which would focus on late-stage start-ups. The start-up engagement arm of the US technology major has so far conducted only 'acceleration programmes' that included companies from idea to mature stages.
Accelerator Plus will include start-ups, which have raised seed-level funding and has at least 50 clients (for business-to-business (B2B) segment) and 20,000 customers (business-to-customer (B2C) space).
For the Scale Up programme, the company must have either received a “large seed-level funding” or have raised funds from a venture capital firm. To qualify, start-ups in the B2C space must also have at least one million customers, whereas those in the B2B segment must have 100 clients.
“These two programmes are Indian evolutions for Microsoft Ventures based on our understanding and observations of the ecosystem here,” said Ravi Narayan, managing director of Microsoft Ventures in India. “We are working with other incubators like Reliance’s GenNext and Deshpande Foundation's Hubli Sandbox for early-stage companies, and our programme will focus only on the more mature start-ups.”
In the first batches for both the programmes, which started recently, Microsoft Ventures has shortlisted 11 start-ups from 1,400 applicants. Start-ups that will be part of the four-month Accelerator Plus programme include AdPushUp (enables ad revenue optimisation for web publishers), Frilp (helps find recommendations on businesses/shops/services), iReff (provides recharge plan and offers information), DailyRounds (journal for clinical cases) and Uninstall.
The first batch of the Scale-Up programme, which will also be for a duration of four months, includes iBot (a plug-and-play internet of everything company), FortunePay (provides tool for enhancing customer engagement), CustomerXPs (real-time customer experience and fraud prevention tool for banking), FlamencoTech (solution for smart infrastructure), WAGmob (mobile first learning company) and UberLabs (image recognition and machine learning technology). iBot from the US, Uninstall and UberLabs from Singapore have been started by Indian entrepreneurs abroad.
“One of the key issues we identified at the last All India Accelerators and Incubators Meet was that there was little help available for later stage start-ups in India,” said Narayan, adding: “This concurred with similar observations made through the pilot of Accelerator Plus, where we noticed that the 10 later-stage start-ups that went through the programme benefited more from the mentoring and showed better results, faster.”
Shortlisting of companies was done by an external jury of six, which included Inventus Capital Partners managing director Samir Kumar, and Redbus.in co-founder Phanindra Sama.
Ravi added the top 200 shortlisted start-ups that applied for Summer 2015 will be referred to the next batch of accelerator programmes partnered by Microsoft Ventures and the early-stage start-ups will have an option to join the BizSpark.