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Microsoft’s New Founders Hub Helps Startups Scale Internationally

Peter Demeyere and Kenny Van Beeck, Microsoft (Photo © Stephanie Jabardo / Silicon Luxembourg)

Microsoft has just launched its new and improved Founders Hub which aims to take startups from ideation to implementation through technology benefits and mentorship. Through this corporate programme, Luxembourg startups can access international advice and connections with the guidance of local mentors. And, it’s already seen a number of startups go global.

Open to any startup with an idea

Unlike the previous iteration of Microsoft’s startup programme, Founders Hub is open to any startup with an idea. All that’s required is a LinkedIn profile and to answer a few questions. The answers will help place a startup within one of the four tiers – Ideate, Develop, Grow or Scale – depending on their stage of maturity.

Each tier offers not only Azure credits, but also access to the mentorship programme and other partner benefits, for up to a year. As the startup grows, it can move up through the tiers. According to Microsoft’s Partner Development Manager, Peter Demeyere, “In theory, if you start in tier one, you can spend up to four years in the programme.”

Distilling international knowledge down to the local level

And during those four years a startup can access a wealth of knowledge from any of the 600+ Microsoft mentors worldwide. These are Microsoft employees who volunteer to help startups with anything they might need, from answers to technical questions to business advice. The real benefit of this is that, while startups can reach out to people anywhere in the world for advice, they can also work with local mentors who have local partners and who can guide them through local challenges. They help translate that international advice to the startup’s unique situation.

“Microsoft is an international company that has a foot in the door of every major company in the world.”

Peter Demeyere

Access to Microsoft’s commercial marketplace is another benefit of the programme. Like other Microsoft partners, startups in the Founders Hub can place their product offering (once commercialised) on the marketplace as an independent software vendor (ISV). This means that any of the 25000+ Microsoft sellers worldwide can find the ISV’s solution and sell it on to their customers, many of which are major international companies. As PDM Manager of ISV at Microsoft, Kenny Van Beeck, points out, “The end goal [of the Founders Hub] is to connect founders and partners with each other and help them grow their business.” The marketplace enables this.

With the option for ISVs to put their product on the Azure Marketplace as a transactable offer, it enables companies to buy these solutions directly through Microsoft. This makes the process easier. For the ISV, they have already been vetted by Microsoft by being part of the partner programme, enabling them to avoid dealing with compliance and legal issues. And for the customers, it makes purchasing much easier.

Startup successes through the Founders Hub

So far the programme has already seen some success. For example, Belgian SaaS startup Scappman currently participates in the programme and, working with their local Microsoft mentors, Demeyere and Van Beeck, they have been able to rapidly grow their business. As Van Beeck explains “…they went from a smart idea to a transactable offer on the marketplace within 9 months.”

Another Belgian startup, CrowdScan, who use wireless technologies to map people in crowded places, was able to scale their business internationally thanks to a connection via the Founder Hub. They approached Microsoft to develop their partnership in order to scale-up. As a result, they’re now talking to the Hong Kong metro operator about using their technology for crowd control in one of the busiest stations in the city.

And this is one of the major ingredients for success of the programme: the large network startups can access. As Demeyere points out “Microsoft is an international company that has a foot in the door of every major company in the world.” So, it makes sense that being part of such a vast global ecosystem can open doors that might otherwise be closed.

Article courtesy of our content partner site Silicon Luxembourg


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