Microsoft’s new initiative for startups in the country, BizSpark One, has signed on two firms to help them accelerate their growth.  Vembu Technologies, a backup software vendor, and technology solutions provider Gradatim IT Ventures have come on board with BizSpark One. The initiative comes after the success of BizSpark, which has already signed on more than 1,200 startups in India and around 30,000 globally in the last 15 months.

The BizSpark programme involved providing startups with 25 licences of Micrsoft suite of products free, which helped them avoid additional capex. Its expansion BizSpark One, which is an exclusive invitation-only programme, takes it much further with detailed one-to-one relationship, mentoring, deep technical expertise and help in business development.

"Our objective is to simulate the local software ecosystem by promoting few select companies and for them we will establish a global community of advisors, investors, peers, etc. We will open opportunities to expand their network and give a very targeted help to accelerate their growth," said Girish Joshi, Program Coordinator, Microsoft India.

The initiative was launched in Februrary  and would look at selectively choosing 5-10 startups every year in the country, said Joshi. BizSpark has built a network of 60 partners in India which include industry bodies, investors, incubators, among others.

BizSpark One signs an annual agreement where it asks startups their needs and whether it can meet them. It then sets timeline and milestones around the requirements to track its progress.

BizSpark One's criteria for selection includes alignment with Microsoft's platform besides a compelling story in areas like citizenship or social business, said Joshi. Other factors include usual factors like the business model, team etc.

"The biggest challenge of any business where you are dependent on technologies that many times you have to go back to the drawing board to redesign. Access to good technology tools becomes important. If we have to invest Rs 1 crore upfront towards a platforms and use it to bring the product to market, we would be constrained by the investments we are making, Bizspark gives you access you to a number of tools," said C V Prakash, founder & CEO, Gradatim. "Otherwise, you would compromise on the budget for your tools which may also compromise the final outcome."

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