Microsoft has announced the 10 early stage start-ups it wants to nurture through its London-based accelerator programme next year.
The start-ups include everyone from Vastari, an online platform for connecting museum curators with private collectors for exhibition loans, to Barpass, a mobile ordering platform that lets consumers order and pay for their food, drink or merchandise, automatically. Others include Buying Butler, Caribu, Cognisess, Dataloop.io, Gateway Interactive, SKARA, Stat.io, UXcam, Vivid and Von Bismark.
The 12-week Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, which will run out of the Central Working co-working space in Tech City from next February, includes a combination of one-to-one mentoring, technical assistance and access to resources designed for start-ups developing technologies around cloud, internet, mobile or gaming. Applicants will also be given a membership to Microsoft’s BizSpark, giving them access to three years of free software, support and visibility.
In addition, the cohort will be given the opportunity to work with the likes of London Business School, KPMG, Ventures in Motion and Train2Game, among others.
At the end of the programme they will pitch their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists, mentors and investors within the technology community.
Microsoft says that being part of the accelerator will give the start-ups the opportunity to win funding, a licensing deal or the option to join another accelerator, incubator or one of its own gaming studios.
"Through Microsoft Ventures, we’re getting back to our entrepreneurial roots to work with entrepreneurs at every stage of maturity across the start-up ecosystem – from idea to product and then into market and beyond," said Michel Van der Bel, Microsoft UK MD and Microsoft International VP, in a blog post this week.
Microsoft announced in June 2013 that it was going to launch accelerators in 10 cities worldwide, with Bangalore, Beijing, Paris, Seattle and Tel-Aviv already up and running.
Some 119 companies – including Israel’s recipe collecting platform “Kitchenbug” and America’s marketing analytics platform “Buddy” – have already enrolled on the accelerator programme and Microsoft claims that 85 percent of them went on to secure funding on the demo day or within six months.
Microsoft’s accelerator will compete with a number of existing London-based bootcamps, such as Techstars, Seedcamp, Level 39 and Oxygen, which recently relocated from Birmingham to London.
Q&A with Vastari
How many users do you have?
We have already registered hundreds of museums and collectors from six continents around the world. This includes three of the top 10 most visited museums worldwide and dozens of collectors who have uploaded more than ten works.
In just under a year since our beta launch, we have enabled five international connections for exhibitions planned for 2015-2020.
How much funding have you received so far?
We raised a first round of £90,000 that has fuelled our work in the last two years. We are about to close a second round of funding in January 2014.
How many employees do you have?
We have a team of six. We have three client development managers, two developers and one founder/managing director.
What do you hope to gain by being part of Microsoft’s accelerator?
We are planning to launch the subscription service in 2014 and will be using the accelerator as a way to do this in the best way we can, to grow our business but also keep all of our customers happy.
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