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Microsoft Ventures launches two new programs for later stage startups in India

11 startups selected from 1400 applicants for the Summer 2015 Batch of Scale Up & Accelerator Plus programs   

Bangalore, India, March 4, 2015Microsoft Ventures in India today announced the launch of its two new accelerator programs while unveiling its Summer 2015 batch. The two new programs– Accelerator Plus and Scale Up, will focus on helping later stage startups in growing traction.

At the launch, Ravi Narayan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ventures in India along with Samir Kumar, Managing Director, Inventus Capital and Phanindra Sama, Cofounder, Redbus unveiled the Summer 2015 batch. The batch comprises of 11 new technology startups – AdPushup, Frilp, iReff, DailyRounds, Uninstall, iBot, FortunePay, CustomerXPs, FlamencoTech, WAGmob and UberLabs. Samir and Phanindra were among the jury for the shortlisting process of the Summer 2015 batch.

“The Indian startup ecosystem has evolved and has new challenges now. One of the key issues we identified at the last All India Accelerators & Incubators Meet was that there was little or no help available for later stage startups in India. This concurred with similar observations made during the pilot of Accelerator Plus, where we noticed that the 10 later stage startups who went through the pilot program benefitted more from the mentoring and showed better results, faster. This prompted us to bring in new programs to help the later stage startups,” said Ravi Narayan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ventures in India. The All India Accelerators & Incubators Meet was held at Microsoft Ventures’ semi-annual event ThinkNext in November 2014.

The final 11 emerged after several rounds of shortlisting from the original list of 1,400+ applications. “Two-third of the applicants have been referred by VCs, Angels and organizations like Nasscom and TiE. This shows that they too feel that we are on the right track, and have the resources and expertise to help these startups.” Ravi added. “We were also surprised to note that there was a spike in applications from later stage startups, 63% startups who applied are already in seed stage.”

Speaking on the occasion, Samir Kumar, Managing Director, Inventus (India) Advisors, said, “India is witnessing an unprecedented surge in entrepreneurship, as a large number of new companies are launched every day. The angel and seed ecosystem has matured to help them get a good start. However, today, scaling up is the real challenge for an Indian entrepreneur. With Microsoft Ventures’ Scale Up & Accelerator Plus programs set to address the requirements of middle to later stage startups, we’ll see the mature startups propel themselves faster to the next orbit. As an investor, I believe, this is a very important step in the maturing of the startup ecosystem.”

The startups were selected for the programs based on their current customer traction, market potential and funding stage. The Scale Up program will focus on startups with large seed or series funding while Accelerator Plus will cater to companies with seed of <$1 million. However, the most important criteria for selection is the traction, not the funding stage, Ravi mentioned. The current batch has five startups under Accelerator Plus and six under Scale Up programs. It also included few international startups – three of them making to the final list – iBot from Singapore and Uninstall and UberLabs from the US. Five of these companies have already raised over $5 million in funding.

Phanindra Sama, Co-Founder, redBus said: “As an entrepreneur myself, I understand the woes of later stage startups – poised on the inflection point – but don’t know whom to turn to for help. When mature startups are ready to pivot, with bigger goals and gameplan, right mentoring at that stage can be that much-needed adrenalin to help them zoom to the next level.”

Ravi Narayan also added that the top 200 shortlisted startups who applied for the Summer 2015 will be referred to the next batch of Microsoft Ventures Partnered Accelerator Programs and the early stage startups will be invited to join the BizSpark program.

Microsoft Ventures in India has graduated five batches comprising 63 startups since the Accelerator program commenced in August 2012. 67 per cent have received funding within a year of being in the program, and three of the graduates, Bookpad, Adepto and Plustxt have been acquired.

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