Microsoft Ventures has recently indicated its plan of incubating around 500 startups in the coming five years. The company plans to create a practical and profitable business out of these startups especially in India.
These startups will largely be the ones providing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions or independent software solution providers that would help in the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Smart City’ initiatives. As per the company, there are more than 4,500 tech-based startups in the country which has potential to scale digitalisation in retail.
Microsoft Ventures, a global initiative to help and incubate late-stage start-ups, has seven accelerators globally in Germany, China, the US, the UK. In India, it has one in Bengaluru.
As per, Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice-President, Microsoft's Developer eXperience and Evangelism, Microsoft Ventures India helps around 20 start-ups in a year. "If you add three partner accelerators we work with, the per-year number goes up. We get applications from 1,000 start-ups in India alone every year," he said.
Guggenheimer said most start-ups Microsoft is working in India are working in the IoT space.
"One of our main objectives is to build good ISVs (independent software vendors), build software for smart cities for India and outside of India. Several of the states have already reached out to us for Smart City projects,” he added.
Microsoft Venture has also incubated startups that are working around senor technology, infrastructure for transportation, water usage, medical care, emergency response, air quality and many more.
The company also aims at organising meet-ups of start-ups with state governments so that it can work together on 'Smart City' initiatives. The company plans to work with the start-ups being incubated in their accelerator programme in the near future and hopes to turn them into customers.
"In the short term, start-ups are not important in our growth and expansion. In the long run, some of them would be successful. Part of what we are doing is build a good relationship with next-generation leaders and software developers of companies who will be customers at some point of time," added Guggenheimer.
According to Microsoft, India is the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world and the fastest growing. It recently opened an office in San Francisco called The Reactor, which is a space used as a touchdown point for alumni from the accelerator programme. It was opened in mid-October this year.