If you know me, you know how much deep rooted suspicions I have with accelerators in general. I used to associate Microsoft Accelerator with Bizspark and free Azure credits. On top of that this was Microsoft .. (Even my laptop has Ubuntu .. should I say more?). Even with this deep rooted bias, Microsoft Accelerator was able to convert me to be a believer in 4 months. Now I am a proud graduate from Batch of Summer 2016 ..
Here is sharing my ride of last 4 months.
I was referred to Microsoft Accelerator (MA from now on) by an investor. He mentioned that MA is now focusing on growth stage companies instead of very early stage ones (as during the Bizspark times). I was not totally convinced. Selection to be part of MA was a 3 step process.
1. Call with resident CTO at MA, Prasanna .. which went ok.
2. Call with Ravi Narayan who heads MA. Which was also ok. He explained to me clearly the commitment I needed to put in and the help MA will offer. This was the first time my perception started changing. I was surprised that I needed to invest at least 4 weeks full time during the course of 4 months .. (My entrepreneur friends will agree that 4 weeks is a huge investment when you are running on the execution treadmill !!)
3. I had to pitch for 2 minutes in front of a jury made up of investors, industry experts and MA members .. During this time I saw the quality of some of the other startups who were present. Among them was Reverie, a startup I knew and liked quite a lot. My confidence was far higher now (actually by now I was desperately wishing to get selected and be part of this ..)
During the pitch event, one of the jury members became my first mentor from MA which was really cool to be honest.
Once we got selected, our first meeting was an overnight offsite to Angsana which was awesome .. and then on, we have derived so much value during last 4 months that not only I am a believer but I am actively telling all my entrepreneur friends to be part of MA.
So why does MA work so well?
Here are some of my thoughts
MA team is totally awesome. I call it “un-microsoft” like. These guys (Ravi, Prasanna, Abhi, Anjali, Gayathri and all ) work like an extension of your own team. Being entrepreneurs themselves they truly want all the startups to succeed and will go the extra mile for you. This worked like a breath of fresh air for us.
The program is split in 3 parts, first 2 weeks focused on Operational plan and stakeholder development. These allowed us to look at business a bit from outside and do course correction ourselves.
Part 2 was about product management and traction management (go to market). For us, the traction management workshop brought about a huge change in the way we were approaching marketing. This workshop is fundamental to our approach towards growth now.
Part 3 was about pitch .. We were always great at pitching but we loved the stage of #thinknext2016 to showcase our pitching bravado ..I think we were the first ones in the history of startups to make startup pitch as skit or Mad-ads .. Watch our awesome team perform here. (Most of the guys in “the pitch” are Mobisy founders or core-team members ..)
Our batch was truly kickass. The amount I learned from other startups in my batch like Reverie, Calm.io, Reportbee, Admissiontable, Strides Software, Babychakra, Altizon, Playblazer is incomparable. MA encouraged peer learning and I think that was the best part of it … We loved interacting and learning from each other. All of us helped each other in solving specific day to day issues which is amazing ..
In summary, if you are a revenue generating startup out there and are wondering how to scale faster .. you must must apply for MA Bangalore .. I promise, you won’t regret the experience ..