It has been almost a week since Rahul Sood announced the creation of Microsoft Ventures to build, innovate and grow the startup ecosystem. Since then, my twitter, LinkedIn and email have been buzzing with questions about what the hell I do now.
I am not going to go into all the details that Rahul already described, but let me describe my role briefly.
I am on the fund side of Microsoft Ventures. I care for North America looking for early-stage startups that are ready for a strategic corporate seed investment. I am not looking for startups that are pitching an idea or are thinking about “doing a startup” part-time. While the financial investment might be early seed size, the commitment I am making once that investment is made, to bring the unparalleled routes to market that Microsoft uniquely offers, is priceless.
Here’s how I describe what I do to family and friends not versed in startups: I try to help great teams become great businesses. How? Depends on the need. Because every startup is unique. Maybe it’s funding that propels them to the next level. Or tech enablement by accessing our deep domain expertise. Perhaps it’s a matter of tapping into the vast partners ecosystem Microsoft has cultivated over the years. When they still look at me with a blank stare, I say “Have you ever watched Shark Tank? I am one of the sharks but not as mean.” (Actually, Mark is not mean)
The team at Microsoft Ventures is small compared to Microsoft businesses which is what I love. This allows us to be agile and move faster than most. It is also filled with some of the brightest minds I have ever worked with at Microsoft. This combination is addicting.
So even if your startup is not ready to be funded directly by Microsoft Ventures, the good news is this: Microsoft has unified all efforts to engage entrepreneurs by creating a single entry-point that is Microsoft Ventures. With enhanced offerings, a vibrant community of entrepreneurs and investors, and accelerators around the world, Microsoft Ventures is Microsoft’s bold commitment to entrepreneurs everywhere and at every stage of the journey.
I’m looking forward to going on the journey with you.