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Microsoft Ventures – no equity, all technologies! Written by HEUREKA editorial on 11. January 2016



The Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Berlin is on the lookout for startups with great ideas, a strong team and grand aspirations to join its upcoming fifth batch! Apply now! Application deadline is February 14, 2016. Open for all technologies and no equity taken!

The Berlin branch of the global Microsoft Ventures Accelerator program is once again looking for candidates for its next Accelerator batch. Interested startups can apply online until February 14, 2016. Come March, the selected companies will then move into Microsoft’s Berlin office, located at “Unter den Linden”, to work on their ideas, products, technologies and business models for the following four months. They are supported by an experienced team of coaches on site as well as a network of external mentors, partners and experts. “The four months in the Accelerator were an exciting time for us. We were extremely productive and at the same time met great new partners, customers and investors. Our mentors and the Microsoft Ventures team on site helped us move our business forward in a way that we couldn’t have done without them.” says Accelerator-alumnus and co-founder of Flockpit Larissa Lielacher.

Besides entrepreneurial and technological coaching, the program also puts a strong emphasis on follow-on-funding. Investors from Germany and other European countries are participating in the selection process and matching startups with the right Business Angels and VCs is a core priority both during the four month program and after graduation. This effort has already shown great success: the Berlin-based Microsoft Ventures Accelerator announced an over 80% funding rate for the alumni of their first two batches with an average funding amount of more than 2M US-Dollars. “That is an impressive result, even on an international scale.” says Zack Weisfeld, General Manager in charge of the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator program worldwide. While also 80% of the global Microsoft Ventures Accelerator alumni receive follow-on funding, the U.S. industry average is only 59%.
With branches in 8 countries, among them India, China, the U.K., France, Israel, the U.S. and Germany, the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator is a truly international program. Marius Sewing, CEO in Residence of the Berlin branch on the specific focus of the program: “We build on our local strengths, however, our worldwide Accelerator network allows us to learn from each other on a global level. The experiences we gain in Israel, China or elsewhere can often also be applied in the other countries we are active in. As far as local markets and industry knowledge are concerned, we can rely on our local network of partners and experts.”
Openness as it relates to technology is also a core value at Microsoft Ventures: “We do not tell our startups which technology they should use and it is not a criterion during the selection process” says Kai Jäger, CTO in Residence of the Berlin branch. Accelerator startups still looking for a suitable cloud platform, however, automatically qualify for BizSpark Plus and beyond that a $500,000 cloud credit for Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s own cloud platform. Microsoft Azure supports a broad range of technologies including Linux virtual machines and Open-Source languages and frameworks such as Java, PHP, Ruby, Python or Node.js.
Participating startups can expect additional support in legal and tax matters. Furthermore, each startup is given a retainer at a design and branding agency. In preparation for the Demo Night – an investor gathering and the final graduation ceremony of each Accelerator batch – participating startups also receive intense pitch training, delivered by internationally renowned pitch trainers whose previous credits include the TED conferences.
Until the application deadline which is February 14, 2016, interested startups simply have to fill in an online questionnaire. Those who make it into the next round are then invited to an on-site interview. The 20 finalists then get to pitch in front of jury of investors, industry representatives and Microsoft employees who then select the 7-10 startups for the next Accelerator batch. “Being part of the Accelerator was a door opener in many ways.” says Berk Birand, co-founder of Accelerator-alumnus Predictiv Industries. “Coming to Berlin from the U.S., the Accelerator helped us meet new prospective customers and also got us in touch with great mentors and advisors. Post-graduation, we’re excited to be part of the Accelerator’s international alumni program and we are looking forward to many more great interactions in the future.”