Microsoft Ventures Accelerator has inducted sixteen startups for the fourth batch of its accelerator program, termed as the 2014 summer batch. The four month program started on January 22, 2014 and will end with demo day on May 23, 2014.
What’s worth noting here is Microsoft Ventures’ focus on selecting companies with significant consumer traction to its batch. Microsoft Ventures’s director Ravi Narayan is quoted in the press release as saying that “most of these companies already have a certain amount of customer traction and the Accelerator Program is well positioned to step in and help them move ahead faster than they would have otherwise.”
Earlier this month, The Morpheus which is probably one of the oldest startup accelerators in India, had also changed its model to work with older companies rather than working with only early-stage companies.
New Accelerator Plus Program: On similar lines, Microsoft Ventures has launched a new Accelerator Plus program, aimed at more mature companies which have already made significant progress and are close to venture funding.
The accelerator says it will offer resources to help these companies roll out products and raise capital to fund their growth. Although, note that Microsoft Accelerator doesn’t provide any investment to the participants itself, since it doesn’t take any debt or equity from the participating startups.
Of the 16 startups, six startups have been included in these new batch. These include MyBusTickets.in, Praxify, Thinxstream, Touchfone, ZingHR and Zoom (More on it below). Its worth noting that Microsoft had also selected four startups in the last batch (HasGeek, Nanobi, Tookitaki and 1000Lookz) which were not part of the accelerator batch but was part of the program.
Startups included in the fourth batch are:
– App Virality which seems to help app developers increase their downloads through in-app leads and giveaways. Features offered include in-app polls & surveys, analytics to measure app downloads, social mentions and traffic, A/B testing and ability to identify top influencers among various channels etc. It is currently in invite-only mode.
– IntouchApp is a cloud-based contact management mobile app which allows users to backup and sync their phone contacts. The differentiating feature here seems to be auto-updating contacts wherein any changes to their information by one of your contacts is automatically updated on your phone. The app is currently available on Android, iOS and BlackBerry and claims to have registered 900,000 downloads until now.
– SlideRule aggregates online learning courses across various topics from several course providers. It currently offers courses on subjects like art & design, engineering, business & economics, health & medicine and law among others from course providers like Coursera, Khan Academy, edX, Codeschool, Udacity, Codeacademy, Udemy, FutureLearn, Busuu, MIT OnlineX and University of Waikato etc.
– Voonik is an online stylist-curated fashion store. Consumers can provide necessary information like their body type and style preferences to receive stylist recommendation on what will suit them, how to wear them, and what to pair them with.
– Imly offers an online marketplace for homemade food. It enables home chefs to setup an online shop to start selling home made dishes and allows consumers to browse and purchase dishes from various cuisines. It claims to offer more than 1,276 dishes from more than 144 home chefs and is operational in nine Indian cities including Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Delhi and others. It had received an investment of Rs 10 lakh in December 2013.
– Boutline is an event audience engagement platform, which allows event organizers to formulate social tasks and challenges to engage their audience. The platform is currently in invite-only mode. Like Imly, Boutline had also received an investment of Rs 10 lakh in December 2013.
– Bookpad is building a product called Docspad which provides a set of cloud APIs to app developers for instant document handling within their respective applications. It allows developers to embed documents across various formats (docx, pdf, ppt, xls and others) through a customizable Docspad Reader and enable their users to preview, edit and manage documents right from the app interface.
It also provides features like collaborative editing, commenting, annotations and others and offers this service through various pricing plans based on the monthly API calls the company needs.
– Appointy offers an online appointment scheduling software for businesses. The basic membership is free and allows unlimited bookings, services, and staff. For additional features like business reports, email marketing and recurring billing among others, it has various pricing plans starting at $9.99 per month and going up to $39.99 per month. It claims to be a $25M company and served more than 49,000 businesses in 99 countries.
– Instasafe is a cloud enabled SSL branch and remote access solution, which allows enterprise customers to securely access enterprise provisioned on-premises applications hosted at private, public and hybrid datacenters from anywhere, on a pay-as-you-use basis. Some of its clients are Dataweave, Mobisir, Palmleaf, Safesquid and iValue.
– Metaome builds big data tools for life sciences sector. The company’s flagship product DistilBio combines proprietary graph search and data integration technologies to improve drug discovery. It was incubated at IIM Bangalore and has received seed funding from the Department of Information Technology. It has offices in Bangalore and Boston.
Accelerator Plus Program Startups
– Praxify provides a cloud based medical practice management solution with an integrated iPad-based EMR (Electronic Medical Records) application for doctors. The solution offers features like appointment scheduling, patient billing and ability to store patient records and on subscription or a pay as you go model.
It also offers an Android app called ConnectHealthy to patients to help them keep track of their & their family’ health as well as search and book appointments with doctors in their neighbourhood. For hospitals, it offers a suite of iPad-based pre-care, in-care and post-care solutions.
– Touchfone has developed a rich messaging and gaming platform and a content aggregation and distribution platform. It also builds products based on these platforms. Taaza Videos is built on top of the content aggregation platform and is available on Android, Windows Phone and Nokia phones. The company says its been incubated by Norway’s Evry Group and backed by Blume Ventures.
– Zoom is a membership-based car sharing service, which allows Zoom members to book self-drive cars on a hourly or a daily basis in the country, although they will have to drop the vehicle back at the same place from where the vehicle was picked up. It currently offers a web-based reservation system and mobile apps across iOS and Android. The company currently has twelve sites in Bangalore and offers cars like Ford Ecosport, Ford Figo ZXI, Volkswagen Vento, Mahindra Scorpio LX, Mahindra Scorpio SLE, BMW 320d, Mahindra Reva E2o. It has raised a total $1.6 million funding until now, which includes a $1 million seed funding in October 2013 and $650,000 across several angel rounds last year.
– Thinxstream is a software firm which develops print and media applications, software products for device management and provides services for multiple industries. It provides M2M solutions like DeviceMaestro Smart which allows organizations to implement their M2M strategy, enterprise mobile printing solutions like PrintRover and consumer wireless mobile printing solutions like PrintJinni. It has also developed an iOS and Windows RT mobile printing app for Dell to allow their customers wirelessly print to Dell’s range of printers, all-in-ones and multifunction printers.
– ZingHR offers HR management solutions to companies across various industries. It offers these services through various pricing plans starting at Rs 7,250 per month and going up to Rs 19,250 per month. It also offers a freedom plan which allows companies to create their own plans based on their solution requirements. ZingHR claims to offer more than 20 modules and claims to have more than 300 clients.