In its efforts to tap into the thousands of small companies operating in India’s hinterlands, global technology giant Microsoft has shortlisted a group of 54 start-ups from the country’s tier-2 cities for whom it will provide mentorship and other assistance.
Part of Microsoft’s ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns’ programme, the 54 start-ups have been selected via a competition for start-ups called ‘Emerge-X’ which the global tech major conducted over the past few months. The list of start-ups include those from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kerala and Telangana and the winners of the competition will receive Azure credits and a host of business and tech benefits, Microsoft said. Azure is the firm’s cloud services business.
So far, five such events have been conducted across India and the fifth edition of the outreach program was hosted at Hyderabad in association with the government of Telangana. “Over 150 innovators and entrepreneurs engaged with Microsoft experts, industry stalwarts and ecosystem stakeholders, including members of the state government,” Microsoft said. The competition has received over 530 applications and the top three start-ups from each state gain access to a year-long mentorship programme and a two-day founder bootcamp, it added.
According to Microsoft, more than 650 start-ups have participated in the five events, benefitting from the mentorship and guidance provided through technology workshops on Azure, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. “Over 75 ecosystem players including the Global Entrepreneurship Network, TiE, Headstart, NASSCOM, and Start-up Grind as well as prominent investors, entrepreneurs and executives in the national start-up ecosystem have actively engaged with the innovators at each of the locations. Wholesale box and Rapidor are among the participating start-ups in the program that have received recent fresh funding from one of the participating investors,” it said.
“The entrepreneurial energy of start-ups is rising well beyond the known metropolitan hubs and is remarkably high in tier 2 cities, despite challenges. Through Highway to a Hundred Unicorns, we’ve been able to reach some highly promising innovators from each of the five states... We look forward to engaging with more start-ups and accelerating their growth and providing them with Microsoft’s platform to go global,” said Lathika Pai, country head, Microsoft for start-ups - MENA and SAARC.