Sunday, January 18, 2015

1871 - Microsoft Ventures Seeks Cloud and Digital Work Startups

Microsoft Ventures Seeks Cloud and Digital Work Startups

Digital Work
We are proud to partner with Microsoft Ventures to promote their Digital Work Accelerator in Seattle and the information sessions they have scheduled for the month of January!

Seattle is a hub for Cloud and Digital Work.

For a great valuation at low costs, Seattle has a lot to offer a consumer focused startup in this space. The great talent from Microsoft, Starbucks, Costco, Nordstrom and Amazon make Seattle a rich breeding ground for top technology talent in these upcoming markets. This has led to creations of companies like Expedia, Blue Nile, Zulily and many other consumer startups. With several of the biggest data centers in the world based in Washington, powered by the Columbia River, and connections with Microsoft and Amazon, cloud startups are also on the rise in Seattle. Microsoft, with its focus on Digital Work, is also building a massive platform that contains data across email, calendar, photos, and more to power personal productivity across devices transitioning between work and life.

Digital Work Accelerator is seeking startups who change the way we work.

In the last Seattle cohort of the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator class, the startups were focused on consumer-based technology and home automation. Currently, the accelerator is accepting applications for its next cohort which will shift the focus toward Enterprise solutions and B2B services. Startups who are creating next-generation messaging solutions, advanced enterprise search-indexing, redefined email solutions, cloud-centric ERP solutions, open-source big data visualization, and basically, changing the way we work, are encouraged to apply. That’s why this accelerator class is named Digital Work.
Startups who are creating solutions in the following categories are encouraged to apply to the accelerator:
  • online shopping and online payment processing
  • interactive product catalogue
  • automated billing systems
  • security
  • enterprise content management
  • IT service management
    • customer relationship management
    • enterprise resource planning
    • business intelligence
    • project management
    • collaboration
    • human resource management
    • manufacturing
    • enterprise application integration
    • enterprise forms automation
    • next generation messaging solution
    • advanced enterprise search-indexing
    • redefined emailing solution
    • cloud-centric ERP solution
    • open-source Big-Data visualization platform

Digital Work has much to offer the modern Enterprise.

The Internet of Things can certainly exist in today’s business environment. Wearables and iBeacons can support different roles within the company. The way that teams collaborate and communicate with each other, especially at the enterprise level, is ripe for an update.
Microsoft is the best positioned Digital Work provider across enterprise software, productivity, and cloud services. These startups often hit challenges with painfully long sales cycles and lack of customer access. While working on the Microsoft campus and amid the tech ecosystem in Seattle, Microsoft Ventures will be able to provide these startups with access to the support they need across these pain points.

Accelerators are positioned to guide growth of Digital Work startups.

What is it like for a small startup looking to infiltrate the enterprise market? We reached out to Ray Gillenwater, CEO of SpeakUp, for insight into the process of scaling for enterprise and the sales cycle in this sector.
“The SpeakUp business model depends on “B2C2B” acquisition – meaning we attract individual users from companies as a wedge into the organization. They can sign up for free and start inviting others in an ‘embed and spread’ style deployment. We have automated mechanisms built-in to prompt users to subscribe to a paid account after they become ‘successful’ customers – meaning they are using all of the features to help them create positive change at work.
“Our current plan is to sell to groups/teams within the Enterprise – which is more like an SMB sale based on our current level of product maturity. We need to build additional features before we can support enterprise wide deployments. The great part about being embedded into these companies during the early days is that when we are enterprise ready, we have a warm list of sales leads to help us navigate the organization, contact the corporate decision maker and sell company-wide deployments. But for now, the focus is simple: bring on new users, get them to invite others and help them achieve success. Enterprise features and sales will come later.”
The Microsoft Digital Work Accelerator is on tour to host information sessions in major cities across the U.S. Applications close on January 30, and the class begins in Seattle on March 16 with Demo Day scheduled for July 16. Next week’s information sessions include Austin on Monday, January 19; New York City on Tuesday, January 20; Silicon Valley on Wednesday, January 21; and Chicago on Friday, January 23. For more dates, check here.

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