During the 2014 All India Accelerators & Incubators Meet, a key point of discussion was the lack of help available for later-stage startups in India. Microsoft’s own experience at its Bengaluru Accelerator showed that later-stage startups benefitted more from the mentoring and showed better results, faster. Access to customer segments such as large corporates and governments was also identified as a major stumbling block for B2B startups who faced difficulty in scaling up.
The Indian startup ecosystem has grown to be third largest in the world. With over 4,000 startups and over USD 5 billion invested in 2015 alone, it is among the most active as well. This year not only saw the highest growth in VC investments, but also a slowdown that led to the closure or distress sales of several promising startups. During this period, Microsoft shifted its focus towards later-stage startups.
It felt that these startups needed greater support to scale up their business as little help existed for them within the ecosystem. From a media point of view, there remained the challenge of telling the growth and scaling story in a space overwhelmingly dominated by funding and valuation news.
To establish Microsoft as the partner that enables startups to succeed through mentoring, technology and market access.
EXECUTION AND TACTICS
The major events around which media engagements were carried out included:
- Think Next – Bi-annual Microsoft showcases attended by the cream of the Indian startup ecosystem.At the Summer 2015 event held in Bengaluru, we introduced the startup media to the #CoInnovate program-designed to connect startups with corporate customers to create greater market. This was followed by a series of direct media engagements with key journalists across India on how Microsoft is helping startups find customers through its own network. This culminated at the Winter 2015 Think Next in Delhi where several key #CoInnovate partnerships were highlighted in national media to demonstrate the efficacy of the program.
- Government engagement – As an extension of #CoInnovate, we identified platforms that could highlight how startups can benefit governments. The first of these was the City Next Smart Cities Conclave with the Govt of Telangana in Hyderabad that generated tremendous media interest.Another key milestone was an announcement by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on engagement with the Telangana government to promote startups which got extensive coverage.
- Showcasing the ISV programme – Curated startups from Microsoft’s Independent Software Vendor programme were highlighted in National and Regional media through feature stories and roadshows. Several startups such as iBOT, CloudCherry, SmarterBiz and iDOS received extensive coverage and a substantial rise in business enquires following the media outreach.
- Research Reports and Commentary – Microsoft along with its ecosystem partners created several research reports which highlighted key issues within the Indian startup ecosystem. These were amplified to create thought leadership via contributory pieces, television panel discussions and commentary. The M&A Panel report in partnership with iSPRIT and the Indian Startup Ecosystem periodic table received extensive media coverage
TITLE: Microsoft – Fostering India’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem
CLIENT: Microsoft India
- Increased business enquiries and opportunities for startups.
- Strong brand building for the startups – leading to more business for them and Microsoft.
- The ecosystem has recognized the success -more than 60% of the 2100 applications for Microsoft Accelerator’slatest batch came recommended from VCs, Corporates and Partners.
- More partners and customers are approaching Microsoft to be a part of the #CoInnovate programme e.g. Citibank, Reliance and Patni.
- Economic Times calledMicrosoft a ‘Market Leader that has spurred a wave of activity in India’s startup ecosystem’.
- Startups too have seen the benefits of associating with Microsoft – “We’ve had many customer successes post working with Microsoft. It is not just a referral relationship. We co-market and co-sell and they pitch and stitch partnerships or us even in our absence –Vinod Muthukrishnan, CEO and co-founder of CloudCherry.
- More than 65 large format stories across key mainlines, financials and startup publications in 8 target cities, over a period of 12 months.