The Telegraph
Monday , February 10 , 2014
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Microsoft prop for Bengal start-ups

Calcutta, Feb. 9: Microsoft Ventures, a programme spearheaded by Microsoft Corporation to support technology start-ups, has expressed interest to engage with the Bengal government to promote technology entrepreneurship.

It has previously worked with the Kerala and Karnataka governments to scale up new businesses.

The company maintains that the lack of potential customers and inadequate market access to push new products are issues that plague the eastern region.

Microsoft feels that a lower cost of entrepreneurship has helped to spur the ecosystem. India has seen a marked improvement in the rise of start-ups, but the figure is still low in comparison with the US.

The US produces close to 30,000 technology start-ups a year, of which about 4,000 receive venture capital funding, while the figure is as low as 1,300-1,500 annually in India. Of this, only 153 get funded.

“Technology entrepreneurship in India is only 8-10 years old, while in the Silicon Valley it is 50-years-old. The goal of Microsoft Ventures is to promote technology entrepreneurship in particular across the world. We have funded a company called Tookitaki in Calcutta and moved them to Bangalore,” said Mukund Mohan, chief executive officer in residence, Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure.

“Entrepreneurs need big markets and it takes time here (the east) as there are not many customers here to try their innovation. We would love to engage with the government here. It is a key pillar based on which the government can create employment. About 80 per cent of new jobs are created by entrepreneurs and not existing large companies,” he added.

Bangalore produces close to 27-28 per cent of tech start-ups, while it’s 20 per cent for Delhi-NCR. Pune and Mumbai produce 15 per cent and the eastern region, a little less than 10 per cent. Technology exports contribute 39 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP), of which start-ups constitute 10-11 per cent. Technology exports are growing at 3-5 per cent and those from start-ups are growing almost three times the figure.

Microsoft Ventures Accelerators enables top entrepreneurs to launch their company through a 3-6 month programme. Start-ups can get access to business mentors, office space and resources. It also serves as a strategic partner investing in early-stage companies through its global seed fund. This year, it aims is to support 200 start-ups globally, of which 30-40 will be in India.