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Azure adoption topmost on Microsoft’s mind with new ScaleUp programme for startups

Azure adoption topmost on Microsoft’s mind with new ScaleUp programme for startups
Lathika Pai, country head of Microsoft for StartUps

Microsoft is looking to collaborate with startups for digital transformation at enterprises even as the tech giant replaces its flagship accelerator programme with one focusing on more established ventures, a top executive told TechCircle.

Lathika Pai, country head of Microsoft for StartUps, said the company’s new ScaleUp initiative will aim to accelerate Azure adoption.

As part of the programme, Pai will also work with startups from Middle East-North Africa and SAARC regions, who will all be based out of the Bengaluru office.

Microsoft is looking to on-board the startups for its co-selling and marketplace platforms, where they will get a chance to sell to large enterprise customers. 

The startups qualifying to be part of the ScaleUp programme will have to move to Azure cloud. This was only optional under the accelerator regime. 

"When we integrate startups with our own solutions platform, we are making sure that they live up to the billing," said Pai. “Hence, we need to make sure the solutions are on Azure so that we can guarantee our enterprise customers about the stability or the quality of the products and solutions our marketing teams are vouching for.”

To facilitate swifter movement of the selected startups to Azure, Microsoft will supply them with cloud credits as well as work with system integrators for easier migration.

Unlike the earlier cohort-based system, the ScaleUp approach is an open platform and will have around 30 startups by end of this year. 

The programme is only considering  startups that have secured at least Series A-stage funding. Pai said that there were multiple incubators and accelerators in India and most startups in the country face their biggest challenges when they scale up from Series A or Series B to a much higher level. 

She added that this was a win-win for both parties as Microsoft and startups need to be on such platforms given that buyers are no longer limited to chief technology officers and chief information officers.

"Now every department wants their own software. A CHRO [chief human resources officer] or a CMO [chief marketing officer] is making a decision to buy the software their teams want. You cannot get all the products and solutions from one vendor and the ScaleUp programme enlarges our product portfolio too," Pai said.

Apart from Bengaluru, the ScaleUp programme has branches in Seattle, London, Berlin, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney, and Tel Aviv. 

The Bengaluru centre has four startups which Pai did not name. Most of them work out of their own offices.

Microsoft will also consider investing in these startups under its venture fund called M12, which was earlier known as Microsoft Ventures. The fund has previously invested in Indian startups such as Helpshift and LoginRadius.

Pai said that even as it urges startups to move to Azure platform, its technologies will continue to be based on open-source platforms.

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