Microsoft finally let the cat out of the bag with an official announcement about the Bing Fund – an angel fund and incubator program that shall provide financial support and thorough technical resources to innovative startups for “building online or mobile experiences”. Sponsored by Bing, this move will enable Microsoft to partner with entrepreneurs who can bring creativity and new insights to the table. Startups that wish to apply for the Bing Fund need to have a business plan, a working prototype of their product or idea and “momentum”, according to Microsoft’s blog post.
Currently, only startups in the US are eligible to apply for the Bing Fund and shall be able to work with Microsoft on developing their new ventures over a minimum period of four months. Once accepted, Microsoft will provide startups subsidized usage of APIs from Bing’s data ecosystem as well as access to certain technology developed by Microsoft Research. The firm shall also help startups receive funding for their initiatives, through a convertible note and shall also assist in introducing strategic investors to the selected startups.
Entrepreneurs can also benefit from interacting directly with Microsoft executives during the development of their ideas and even consult with subject matter experts at the firm. They can even choose to connect with Microsoft partners and customers during this phase, share workspace and interact with other fellow startup teams. At the end of the development phase, the startup gets to retain ownership over intellectual property and the final products.
While the Bing Fund is a great means to support innovation; with this, Microsoft also might gain exposure to new companies that it can potentially partner with or even acquire. The Bing Fund is different from Microsoft’s BizSpark venture and does not require startups to use Microsoft’s development stack in order to create their products. The Bing Fund is aimed mostly as an accelerator and incubator program for nascent startups to realize their vision.
Startups can choose to use office space on Microsoft’s Bellevue campus, which has an earmarked section known as the “Bingcubator” as part of this program. However, startups will still manage to stay isolated from the rest of the campus to encourage them to develop their own culture. Startups under the Bing Fund will even have access to remarkable entrepreneurs like Rahul Sood, the founder of VooDoo PC, who is the brain behind the initiative and has been roped in as the Bing Fund’s general manager.
This is a great opportunity led by Microsoft to promote innovation and encourage more startups to see their projects through, by supporting them through the incubation period of product or business development.