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Microsoft Ventures: The Original Startup Goes Back To Its Roots

Nathan Kurtz

nathan_kurtzRahul Sood, General Manager of Microsoft Ventures, is changing how we help startups accelerate. Targeting markets across the globe, Microsoft Ventures is bringing entrepreneurial mentoring, backed by Microsoft's products and support, to give their accelerator companies an unfair advantage in the market.

Microsoft is one of the world's oldest software companies. It is still chaired by its entrepreneur founder. Microsoft has some of the brightest subject matter experts in any subject on staff. Though a large portion of their revenue comes from enterprise sales, they still retain their entrepreneurial roots. And this is carried out in many departments, from software, to gaming, to music. It is especially true in Microsoft Ventures.

TOM_RahulSoodMr. Sood is a serial entrepreneur. He's had some great successes, and humbly talks more about his failures. That he doesn't fear failure--in fact, he values and welcomes the lessons learned through failure--speaks to his ability to raise awareness and interest in the newly formed accelerators.

He unabashedly pronounces his intent to bring mentoring, resources, and valuable introductions to the accelerators that normally accept less than 5 percent of applicants.

After his last exit, Mr. Sood came to Microsoft to help unify their various entrepreneurial programs.  He started the Bing Fund in 2011, and a year later was able to roll up the four pillars of Microsoft’s entrepreneurial offerings into one group, renamed Microsoft Ventures.

Bizspark offers free Microsoft software and tools to thousands of startups each year.  The accelerators, located in Brazil, London, Paris, Berlin, Beijing, Bangalore, Tel Aviv and Seattle, provide in-depth mentoring and business development help. 

Last year, 120 companies graduated from their accelerators.  After graduating, 85 percent of companies received outside investment, and Microsoft continues to look at them to see if there are others they want to invest in as well.

Success for Microsoft Ventures in 2014 is all about going back to their accelerator graduates to continue to mentor them, make connections/introductions and build the brand that Microsoft Ventures cares about—the long-term success of these companies.  This focus builds the applicant pool for future classes, and gives Microsoft better long-term success rates. The original startup is getting back to its roots, and changing the world’s perception of Microsoft’s role in startups and entrepreneurship.

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