Microsoft opens a new tab to focus on B2B startups

Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, has revamped its accelerator programme and rebranded it as ‘Microsoft ScaleUp,’ shifting its strategy to engage with startups.

Under the new program the company will support late-stage enterprise startups that have already raised series A funding and have customers. The Redmond, Washington-based firm company had unveiled an accelerator programme six years ago in Bengaluru which supported early stage ventures.

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Unlike previous editions of the Microsoft accelerator programme, which typically worked in the form of cohorts or batches, from this year, it will engage with a smaller batch of 30 startups.

“India today has the third largest number of accelerators and incubators. Our focus now is very clear that we don’t need to run an accelerator. We don’t need to create that ecosystem. It’s really robust,” said Lathika S. Pai, Country Head, Microsoft for Startups, MENA and SAARC, in an interview. “So our focus is…where can we help the most?… How do we get someone who has million dollars in revenue [and] take them to $10 million-$100 million [in revenue]? That’s our goal,” said Pai. An alumnus of Rochester Institute of Technology, Pai brings business and entrepreneurial expertise from her long years in the tech industry.

‘Microsoft ScaleUp’ would offer enterprise companies access to co-marketing and co-selling opportunities and hone their infrastructure and build their businesses. It would also help the firms grow across the globe with an intensive Microsoft-led programme in eight global offices including Beijing, Berlin, London and Tel Aviv.

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Microsoft, which competes with companies like Google and Amazon in the artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing space, provides these firms with access to its cloud computing platform, Microsoft Azure, to build innovations on top of it and scale their products and serve enterprise clients.

“It is about Azure…today we have Flipkart, InMobi, Ola, all on Azure. We want to catch [enterprise companies early], help them through their journey before they become unicorns,” said Pai .

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