Microsoft Ventures: The newest accelerator in Digital Health
I'm always interested to learn more about how large corporations are supporting startups in Digital Health. I remember using many Microsoft technologies when I first learnt Computer Science at university, but I haven't heard much about them in the area of Digital Health, until now. I caught up with Hanan Lavy, Director of the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Tel Aviv, Israel.
[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties with Microsoft Ventures]
1. What is Microsoft Ventures?
Microsoft Ventures is a strategic partner for promising startups around the world focused on business growth & development, industrial strength technology and beautiful usable products. Build locally, scale globally. We help smart companies take flight.
2. What makes Microsoft Ventures different from other accelerators?
Microsoft Ventures Accelerators are spread all around the world and they leverage the Microsoft worldwide footprint to give startups unparalleled routes to customers and partners. There are very few companies that have the Microsoft’s footprint and reach-out potential, let alone accelerators. We use this power to push startups to their success. The Microsoft Ventures Accelerator do not take any equity or other way of compensation from the startups participating in it and they don’t have to use Microsoft platform in order to be accepted to the program. In addition startups will get Azure (Microsoft cloud) for free of up to $60K as part of BizSpark+ program, hands-on UI work and much more. We also have a great track record.
3. You are launching a brand new program in 2014 just for Digital Health startups. What's on offer?
In our next batch (the 5th), that starts in September, we are cooperating with Becton Dickinson (BD). BD will provide the startups with professional, hands-on mentorship, will leverage its understanding in the medical market to help startups reach out customers and partners as well as offer a non-mandatory $25K as a convertible note with friendly terms.
The combined strengths of Microsoft and BD will enable startups understand their customers, build their products and reach out to customers and partners faster than any other offering in the market.
4. What kind of Digital Health startups are you seeking?
We’re looking for seed stage startups, that raised up to $700K, with 2-6 people. We’re looking for great entrepreneurs with big vision and excellent execution abilities that work full-time and can relocate to Israel for the program’s period.
As for the domain – we look for startups that are in the medical space and have a major software component part in their solution.
Application to the program is open now and will be close on July 24th 11:59pm (ISR time). More info as well as link to the application system can be found here.
5. Can startups from around the world apply? Where would they be based for the 4 month program?Definitely. The program is a very unique program comparing to other program from all around the world. We believe it can bring value to startups from any place around the globe.
We would need the startup’s main business office to move to the accelerator’s space in Tel-Aviv. This means that at least the CEO and CTO/VP R&D should come to Tel-Aviv for the program. The rest of the team is also welcome but can stay in their home countries, if they want to.
6. Do the startups have to be using Microsoft technology in their solution?
No. Startups can use whatever technology they wish and work in whatever platform makes sense to them.
7. What's the business model you're operating under?
The Microsoft Ventures Accelerator is a strategic program for Microsoft and it has no short-term ROI. We would like to be involved in the early stages of growth in the next generation of amazing companies.
8. What's the track record of startups graduating through your earlier programs?
The Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Tel-Aviv has operated since April 2012. 85% of our graduates raised $1.2M on avg. during the program or short while after it. Compare it to ~50% and $500K of an average accelerator in the US, to better understand the quality of the program.
9. You are hosting an event in London on July. Can you tell us more about that?
I’m planning to host an event in London on July 9th afternoon in which I’m going to give startups more information about the program, answer questions and meet them face-to-face. Final details about the program are being set these days and will be published in June. If you want to set a f2f meeting drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org .
10. Two years from now, in 2016, what would success for this aspect of Microsoft Ventures look like? What are the barriers to success?
In two years from now we’d like to see the startups participating in this batch raise money, have paying customers and grow. We’re measured according to the success of our startups, so the equation is pretty simple. We’re fully committed to the startups’ success, and it goes all along of our alumni graduates. We already had a couple of companies being acquired and we’re very proud in them.