Part of Microsoft’s global initiative for startups called Microsoft for Startups, the programme will work with different state governments to support their respective local startup ecosystem.
As India’s digital evolution further penetrates beyond metros and tier-I cities, technology companies have been looking to engage with ideas, innovators, and consumers based in small cities yet holding the next billion-dollar opportunities across areas for businesses to tap on. Microsoft, which has been engaging with businesses and consumers across different regions in the country has now launched a programme — Highway to a Hundred Unicorns to “engage with innovators and entrepreneurs through a series of outreach programs across tier-II cities,” the company said in a statement.
Part of Microsoft’s global initiative for startups called Microsoft for Startups, the programme will work with different state governments to support their respective local startup ecosystem. For instance, the first event was organized by the company and Gujarat government’s Industries Commissionerate and iNDEXTb that saw over 250 startups being part of it, according to Microsoft.
While small cities are increasingly churning out more startups beyond Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, however, the challenges such as lack of advanced technology support and dearth of mentorship from ecosystem players thwart their scale-up and eventually lead to their migration to large cities. Through the new programme, Microsoft will support startups in tier-II cities to “achieve scale at their place of origin,” said Lathika Pai, Country Head, Microsoft for Startups – MENA and SAARC.
Startups being supported will get access to mentorship on subjects including Azure, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Selected top startups from the ‘Emerge 10-Gujarat’ programme will get Azure credits even as select startups will be able to pitch for access to the Microsoft ScaleUp program that supports seed or Series A funded B2B startups and select B2C tech-enabled startups to “co-sell with Microsoft sales teams, get access to top tech VCs globally and receive mentorship from the startup ecosystem,” the company said.