By Claire Lee
DEMO Asia Begins Tomorrow
In January we kicked off a competition in the APAC region for startups to win a place to pitch at DEMO Asia. In just a few hours, these ten lucky startups will be at Microsoft Singapore preparing for their pitch on 1st March and receiving mentoring and coaching from Microsoft and Partners. As you can see, DEMO companies come from all over: and the Alpha Pitch companies that receive BizSpark scholarships come from nine countries. We’re really pleased to see such participation and representation and we’re excited to see the companies on stage pitching. Let’s send them good vibes and best wishes for their 90 seconds of fame!
Guest blog by Seaton Gras
SURF will be opening over 15,000 square feet of class A office space to over 100 entrepreneurs this March.
SURF Incubator is dedicated to providing the resources that startup entrepreneurs need in order to build their businesses. The community wants entrepreneurs to be successful and will offer the following support:
Applications for residency welcome!
We wanted to highlight sponsorship opportunities for Founding Members at the brand new SURF Incubator in Seattle, open to grab before March 2nd.
For a limited time, those of you in the local startup ecosystem are invited to be part of the launch SURF Incubator. We are calling on business leaders, investors, attorneys, financial professionals, consultants, and others to contribute $300 or more.
Benefits include FREE ADMISSION to all events for the next six months and special founder benefits; and knowing you helped support the entrepreneurial community in the Seattle area, right at the outset.
Benefits for each Founding Member include:
Sign up now for this valuable program and join us on this exciting journey.
By Brett Laffel
Microsoft will be adding Arizona State University (ASU) Venture Catalyst and ASU Edson Student Entrepreneur Accelerator into the BizSpark Network Partner program. BizSpark Network Partners share Microsoft’s passion for driving the success of software startups through mentoring, networking, business advice, financial assistance, and peer connections. Network Partners know the startup environment and understand what it takes to succeed. As Network Partners, Venture Catalyst and the Edson Accelerator will be able to nominate startups into the Bizspark Plus Program. The BizSpark Plus program is an extension of the BizSpark Program, designed to provide high potential startups with additional offers, products and services from Microsoft. Through this offer, startups will get up to $60,000 of value over two years*, which will include all the Windows Azure a startup needs to run their business for the first year and 50% off Windows Azure retail for the second year.
ASU Venture Catalyst equips high potential startups for success. The Catalyst assists university students, faculty and staff, as well as local and global companies, with launching startups or accelerating existing ventures. Based at ASU SkySong, The Catalyst offers investor connections, technology road maps, go-to-market strategy consulting, mentoring opportunities, and several other programs and services, all designed to identify and develop investment-grade companies.
The Edson Accelerator provides funding, office space, and guidance to teams of students within all university disciplines. This accelerator gives student entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop their innovative ideas and launch viable businesses. As an integral program of ASU Venture Catalyst, students in the Edson accelerator have access to seasoned entrepreneurs, industry mentors, and other Catalyst programs that enable them to advance enterprise.ASU SkySong impacts local, state and international economies by engaging the University with businesses and governments to drive economic development and global enterprise. ASU SkySong helps grow the economy through launching and accelerating new companies and promoting use inspired research. ASU SkySong, and the dozens of emerging innovation driven companies located there, are dedicated to positively impacting the economies of the state and country for years to come.
You can also find more information out about these two programs by visiting:
IGNITE! kicks off on Tuesday, March 13 at 5 PM at RocketSpace, 181 Fremont Street in San Francisco.
IGNITE! is a new monthly series of pitch events for early-stage startups looking to generate interest and investment from VC’s and Angels.
Here's how it works:
Ten companies are chosen each month to participate in IGNITE! Presenting companies will each have a demo table to have the opportunity to meet and network with angles, VCs and guests during the first hour. Attendees will then vote for their favorite company, and the top four will get to present to a distinguished panel of VCs and Angels. The panel then chooses who they feel is the most promising startup.
The winner gets a pitch meeting with our Sponsoring Venture Capital firm, Hummer Winblad.
Following the pitches, Mitchell Kertzman, Managing Director of Hummer Winblad, will be interviewed by Eric Ferraro, a startup attorney at LeClairRyan and a former startup CEO himself.
If you are a startup that is interested in being selected to participate in IGNITE! please go here https://gust.com/r/enterprises/via_group_new and complete the application. This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to practice their startup pitch, gain valuable public speaking experience, interact with other founders and receive great feedback from panelists who have years of experience working at, and funding startups.
We have space for approximately 100 guests. If you'd like to attend, just click on this link http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2719818049. If you sign up before February 24, the admission fee is just $25.
For more information please visit www.ignitefundraisers.com.
Microsoft BizSpark will be sponsoring this event and participating in the panel. If you have questions about the event, or Microsoft’s participation in the event, feel free to reach out to Brett Laffel at Brett.Laffel@microsoft.com or on Twitter at @BrettLaffel. I look forward to seeing you there!
By Sharon Koshy
Over the past few weeks, here’s a sampling of news highlights of members of the BizSpark One program, identifying a small number of the best companies in BizSpark, which is now comprised of over 45,000 startups.
Week of January 22-28, January 29-February 4, and February 5-11:
While the current economic climate means that there may be fewer job vacancies around, finding the right candidates is still a big challenge for companies all over the world. This is particularly true for SMEs, who are not only having to compete with bigger companies for the same potential employees, but don’t have enough internal resources for a dedicated recruitment function. As any employer will confirm, the whole recruitment process takes time and effort: advertising, screening, interviewing, plus all the back-end administration involved.
That dilemma could be history, thanks to the launch of a new start-up called Zartis, which provides companies with a cloud-based recruitment ‘engine’ to make the whole recruitment process extremely easy and affordable. Features such as mobile-friendly job application are also designed to make the process easy and appealing for job candidates.
Based in Ireland, BizSpark member Zartis is the latest venture from John Dennehy, who previously founded HR Locker, a cloud-based virtual human resources function for SMEs. John is a good example of the current generation of entrepreneurs who are combining great business ideas with cloud technology to do something truly ‘disruptive’ in an established market.
“Cloud does two things for us,” says John, “It means we don’t have to build our own infrastructure, so we have lower costs and faster time to market, worldwide, which can make a huge difference to the success of a start-up. Second, it means we can scale to meet demand: if our customers increase 100 per cent in the next month, no problem. We’ve been on Azure since its early days and it’s now very fast.”
Zartis is already putting cloud’s scalability to the test. Within just a few weeks of the service being launched back in October, 1000 companies signed up, all through word of mouth. New companies are signing up at a rate of around 100 per week and that figure is growing. And Zartis isn’t just attracting small businesses: subsidiaries of large organisations like Lufthansa are also signing up.
“The feedback we’re getting is that customers love the fact they can create a recruitment function in just a few minutes, which can be embedded on their own website and integrate with Twitter and Facebook. They can see who has applied for what job and manage the whole recruitment process through Zartis.” The most basic level is free, with scaling charges to match different companies’ needs and support for 13 languages.
Zartis has some heavyweight investors on board, including SOS Ventures’ Sean O’Sullivan (Netflix, Guitar Heroes) and Bill Liao, the founder of Xing and a further funding round is planned for 2012. As a startup already generating revenue despite less being a year old, a thriving customer base and a business case that – thanks to cloud – can go global fast, Zartis is definitely ‘one to watch’. And it is also proof that while 2012 is going to be a tough year, there is still room for innovation in a challenging economy.
Guest blog by Kattayil Rajinish Menon
54 Hours | No Talk | All Action
100 Participants | 68 Business Ideas Pitched | 15 Startups Bootstrapped
3 Startups Declared Winners
Startup Weekend Bangalore was a great success. Microsoft helped organize and host the event which attracted startups, aspiring entrepreneurs, startup enthusiasts, investors and venture capitalists. The 54 hours were full of great activity. In addition to great keynote sessions and Thursday’s Windows Azure Boot camp session, there were:
Which led to the three winners!
Mistakopedia is an open web platform for live updates of mistakes people make, mundane to important ones. It serves as a search engine of mistakes.
Sharewell is an online platform for member driven, trustable, sharing, and recycling communities.
Shastra is a learn-teach platform that transfers information based on users’ social circles and interests in a gamified environment.
Congratulations to all!
Check out more details at http://bangalore.startupweekend.org/
Guest blog by Stephen Forbes, Skillpages.com
“May you live in interesting times” Confucius once said, and we certainly do. On the one hand, we have economic crises, meaning that many people fear for their jobs. On the other hand, we have a fast-paced world of technology advancement and in many industries, on an increasingly global stage. Arguably, we’re experiencing the fastest pace of change since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century.
Companies that didn’t exist 5 years ago are now amongst the leaders in their markets: for instance, Zynga’s rise in the video games sector has been meteoric. Indeed, there are now market leaders in new billion dollar industries that didn’t exist 5 years ago, like Groupon. Jobs that were rare or unheard of 5 or 10 years ago such as (Social Media Managers, Mobile App Developers, User Experience Managers) are now amongst the most sought after. While there are a lot of people with these skills or who want those jobs, there aren’t enough to keep up with the pace of demand.
At the other end of the scale, jobs that are disappearing, systemic unemployment, industries changing location, and sadly, companies going out of business. In many cases, job security is a thing of the past. Because of this transformation, individuals need to adapt, diversify their skills and adjust expectations in order to discover a new form of job security, one based on flexibility.
The impact of this rapid and disruptive force is the emergence (or return) of the Renaissance man and woman, where people are multi-talented and have more than just one area of expertise. Individuals are up-skilling, cross-skilling and learning entirely new skills to adapt to the transformations in their industries, just to stay one step ahead.
Helping to make all this possible is the increasingly connected world, creating online ‘social media’ style communities where people can share their skills and easier for potential employers or clients to find them. As well as full-time employment, many people are looking at sites such as Skillpages, where they can find freelance, informal or occasional work, even voluntary work that can help them to build up experience. So far, over 2.7 million people have registered on Skillpages.com, suggesting that there is a real desire out there for people to pursue new career options.
So, while job security may be a concern, the flipside is that people are exploring other avenues, becoming multi-talented individuals who are making the most of the online revolution to diversify and change careers – in some cases, careers that have only become possible through new technology. We live in interesting times indeed.
SkillPages is a social directory that brings together a member's real life social connections so they can find skilled people they can trust and also, get found by people who need their skill, since launching just under a year ago over 2.7 million people have joined the platform. SkillPages is a member of BizSpark.
Guest blog by Brian Schultz
If choosing a cofounder is like choosing a spouse, you'd better get dating. FounderDating Seattle hosts exclusive quarterly events for people with impressive talent and track records who are serious about starting new companies.
We strive for a 50/50 split between technology super-humans and business people with impressive track records. Events are limited in size and promote 1:1 speed "dating" introductions and other interactive activities get the group well-acquainted over the course of the event.
FounderDating relies on Fight Club style privacy to ensure that top talent can attend without worrying about word getting out. If you're seriously skilled and serious about founding something great, submit your application at FounderDating.com today. If you have a friend or colleague who you’d be eager to invest in as a founding member of the next Seattle startup, go ahead and nominate them.
Date: March 6, 2012 (Applications due Feb 26, 2012)Time: 6:30PM - 9:30PMLocation: Seattle, WAWeb site: http://founderdating.com/
Applications for the next event on Mar 6th are due by Feb 26th.Questions? Email us.
NOTE: FounderDating events are invite-only. Participation is based on merit and peer recommendations. All information will be kept 110% confidential.
Guest blog by Ruud De Jonge
It was pure coincidence that 30th January was both the launch of BizSpark Plus and a Microsoft event for European government representatives in Brussels. But the timing was very relevant, because the topic of the event was ‘Fuelling the European Economy', including how we can help small businesses to make the most of cloud computing.
That is exactly what BizSpark Plus is all about - $60,000 of Azure (around 45,000 at the current exchange rate). And here in the Western European team, we are very excited about how BizSpark Plus is going to help the ICT startup community.
So what will it mean in practical terms? To answer that, I’d like to quote Hendrik van Iterson, CTO and co-founder of Atomblock, who was one of the guest speakers at the Brussels event and (another coincidence) one of the startups involved in the first phase of BizSpark Plus. This Dutch company has pioneered a cloud-based distribution model for video games and other digital content. In a pretty short space of time, Atomblock has extended its customer base across Europe, the Nordic region, Turkey and Brazil.
“BizSpark Plus gives us great flexibility. We can’t predict how quickly or how much we will use, because we can’t predict how fast we will scale. But it is going to make a big contribution: it means we can continue with our fast-paced global expansion plans. Being in the cloud makes it easier to expand your business globally anyway, but BizSpark Plus gives us an extra boost at an important time in our company evolution.”
We’ve announced BizSpark Plus Partners in 12 countries across Europe so far:
These European partners, with their valuable local knowledge and networks, join host of other partners worldwide who are part of this early phase of BizSpark Plus. And this is an important point: this is just the start. As it grows, I look forward to telling you more about BizSpark Plus and how it is giving European start-ups a very real helping-hand.