Microsoft on Tuesday launched a new initiative called “Highway to a Hundred Unicorns” to mentor and support startups in tier 2 cities in India.
Organised in collaboration with the Industries Commissionerate and Gujarat’s Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb), more than 250 startups attended the first such event here.
Microsoft said it will engage with innovators and entrepreneurs through a series of outreach programs across tier 2 cities and work closely with state governments to strengthen the startup ecosystem.
“Through ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns’, we will reach out to startups in tier 2 cities and support them to achieve scale at their place of origin,” said Lathika Pai, Country Head, Microsoft for Startups – MENA and SAARC.
Some of the key challenges in scaling their businesses include lack of cutting-edge technology support and dearth of mentorship from ecosystem players.
“Our tech expertise and experience of engaging with some of the most successful Indian startups will help innovators across the breadth of the country become enterprise ready and scale their operations in India and globally,” she added.
Startups will receive guidance and mentorship through technology workshops on subjects like Azure, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
Identified top startups in the “Emerge 10-Gujarat” will receive Azure credits and select startups will also be invited to pitch for access to the Microsoft “ScaleUp” programme.
The Microsoft “ScaleUp” programme supports Seed or Series A funded B2B 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.
With its strong focus on “Microsoft for Startups”, an advanced technology platform, a rapidly growing partner ecosystem, and the venture fund M12, Microsoft said it is uniquely positioned to help startups embrace the next phase of growth and evolve from being market ready to enterprise ready.