Microsoft will not invest in any of the start-ups it mentors at its accelerator programme, although it may consider picking up stake in some of those companies at a later stage.
Microsoft Ventures, the corporate venture funding and entrepreneurship development arm of Microsoft, has mentored 63 technology start-ups in five batches in the last two years in India. “It does not add a lot of value for Microsoft to invest in a lot of start-ups. We want most of them partnering with us,” said Tzahi Weisfeld, head of global accelerator programme at Microsoft Ventures.
Meanwhile, Microsoft looks to expand its start-up nurturing initiative by partnering with other corporations and organisations. In September, Microsoft Ventures partnered with Reliance Industries’ venture investment-arm GenNext for a pan-India collaboration to jointly mentor startups. The first such innovation hub came up in Navi Mumbai in October. Microsoft Ventures and Deshpande Foundation entered into a similar tie-up to nurture small companies in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, with the first one in Hubli, Karnataka.
On increasing such collaborations he said, “We will have to see. Many others also want to partner with us. These are very early days. We will learn from the outcomes”.
Commenting on the start-ups in India, Weisfeld said: “While India has a way to go before it caches up with either Silicon Valley or Israel on the start-up ladder, I can see a lot of positive changes. Innovative startups backed by experienced and new founders are emerging in new technology areas”.