Hyderabad: Microsoft Ventures, a global initiative by Microsoft Corp. to foster entrepreneurship, on Tuesday named 16 start-ups that will be part of the 2014 summer batch of its accelerator programme in India.
The start-ups were selected by Microsoft Ventures in India through an application process, as well as in collaboration with industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).
The fourth batch received over 850 applications directly over two months, a spokesperson for Microsoft Ventures said. The selection process culminated in a presentation made before a panel of judges.
“It was a great mix of start-ups—some solving local problems which had global-sized opportunities while others were global in nature," panel member Bharati Jacob, founder partner at Seedfund, a venture capital fund, said in a statement.
Four startups were chosen directly at technology product conclaves hosted by Nasscom, one of Microsoft Venture’s industry partners.
They are bookpad, which provides users an online e-book reader and access to a bookstore containing free and paid e-books; healthcare platform Praxify; imly, an online marketplace for home-cooked food; and Boutline, which offers an event audience engagement application.
“Most of the start-ups came up with original ideas, that is, they weren’t copy and paste of an overseas idea. All teams came with tremendous energy and passion for their idea, which bodes well for the Indian ecosystem," Jacob noted.
“The good thing about this batch is that most of these companies already have a certain amount of customer traction and the Accelerator Program is well positioned to step in and help them move ahead faster than they would have otherwise," said Ravi Narayan, director of Microsoft Ventures.
Six of the 16 start-ups—MyBusTickets.in, a booking website; Praxify, Thinxstream (device management and printing solutions provider), Touchfone (a mobile application developer), ZingHR (cloud-based human capital management solutions provider) and Zoom (self-driven car-sharing company), already have some customer traction, have a fair idea of their market and are closer to venture capital funding.
As a result of their different set of needs from early stage companies, these six start-ups will be part of Microsoft’s newly-launched Accelerator Plus Program, Microsoft Ventures said.
“Most of them have made significant progress, so much so the start-up ecosystem is taking their eyes off them. But we at Microsoft Ventures feel this is the time they need the most help, when from an investor standpoint they are getting ready to graduate into the mainstream," Narayan said.
The other start-ups that have been selected to be part of the four-month-long accelerator programme in Bangalore are metaome (life sciences data analytics), SlideRule (online course aggregator), voonik (customized styling), IntouchApp (phone contact backup and sync), InstaSafe (cloud-enabled security solutions provider), App Virality (in-app solutions provider) and Appointy (scheduling appointments over phone).
The start-ups will graduate in May, a spokesperson said.
An accelerator helps early stage companies and first-time entrepreneurs with mentoring, technical guidance and networking, enabling the founders to build a product in 3-6 months.
Microsoft does not provide any funding assistance nor does it take a stake in the companies taking part in the programme.
About 80% of 35 start-ups, which have graduated from Microsoft Ventures in India since August 2012, have received funding. Two of them, Adepto and Plustxt have been acquired.
Microsoft Accelerators currently operate in Bangalore, Berlin, Beijing, London, Paris and Tel Aviv.