Flying into Berlin to take a first glance at the location for Microsoft’s latest accelerator, head of Microsoft’s startup collaborations Rahul Sood was impressed by the work-in-progress. While still largely under construction, the Unter den Linden-based Microsoft Berlin Accelerator already played host to the corporation’s BizSpark conference yesterday.
Sood is in a good position to oversee Microsoft’s ambitious new startup programmes – a serial entrepreneur who has worked in startups for 18 years, he made an impressive exit selling his high-end performance PC manufacturer VoodooPC to Hewlett-Packard in 2006. Sood is also an active angel investor, which is why he is keen to help Microsoft make investments on a larger scale.
Under his guidance, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator has launched in Seattle, Israel, India and China, with France, Brazil, Moscow and Berlin soon to join. The Berlin accelerator is slated to open in November this year and will house two floors of workspace for startups in the accelerator, plus an events areas and a rooftop with a killer view over Berlin (most likely to become a bar, we’re told).
Via the Bing Fund, Sood also helps Microsoft pick out startups to receive between €50,000-€100,000 in early-stage financing. Why so little? Because Microsoft wants other investors to get involved in and finance the startups so that they gain access to a wider set of expertise and avoid becoming another Microsoft product.
Unlike other accelerators run by corporates, including ProSiebenSat.1 and Axel Springer, Microsoft doesn’t take any equity in the startups in its programme. We caught up with Sood during his short stint in Berlin to find out what’s in it for Microsoft and why an exit shouldn’t be the be-all-and-end-all for startups…
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