Will any Polish corporation have the balls to follow the Microsoft’s initiative in Poland?

Last Thursday I visited Microsoft Bizspark Summit 2013 – annual Microsoft conference focused on startups. The idea of the event was to invite 12 startups from MAEA region and encourage them to present their work in front of 12 judges, few investors and Berlin startup community. About 200 people gathered in the heart of Berlin – namely the new Microsoft Center for startups.

Even though, it was a startup event organized by the large corporation and you could meet a lot of people from Microsoft there, there was something different about it. First of all, the event was organized in space (not to be confused with an office!) still under renovation, with furniture made of pallets, poor air conditioning and walls which were not even painted. Secondly, neither Microsoft Fanboys nor sales presentations, only frank opinions and bright visions. All there was about startups, young companies, their role the in the future ecosystem and how Microsoft could help them.

Microsoft Ventures

Rahul Sood, General Manager at Microsoft Ventures was talking about Microsoft approach to startups. He asked audience what’s important for startups – and when someone said money, he just smiled and replied that there is something more important. For Rahul the most important thing for startups are customers, because they are the foundation of each company. And this is the point of Microsoft Ventures – they are providing a way to get in touch with possible customers and put startups on the right growth path. Microsoft Ventures is not about building another products under the Microsoft name and selling their products. It’s about enabling startups to develop their products. They are doing it by global accelerator programs which are not taking any equity and investing via seed fund from 50 000 $ to 100 000$ (Rahul during speech and Q&A said that they could be co-investors in interesting startups but they are always making space for other investors). Moreover they are providing free access to software and cloud platform Microsoft Azure via Bizspark program.

Rahul Sood talking about Microsoft Ventures

Probably most of people reading this post will think – “Yeah another advertisement of corporation and their products”, but this is something different. 12 startups chosen for Summit had great presentations (I haven’t recently heard so many good presentation in one place), interesting products and you could see that they are crazy about their work and customers not about glorying Microsoft. I strongly believe that this event will give presenting startups even more opportunity to success. What’s more  I’m happy that Microsoft is supporting startups from such small markets as Poland or Greece and give them opportunity to show up on the European startup scene (BTW.  Jon Romero made a great work pitching BugSense from Greece!). The whole event won Spreaker – a digital music sharing service. I’m also proud that Booklikes from Poland has been granted the People’s Choice Award this year.

Booklikes presentation and Q&A

Inspired by this great day in Berlin, I came back to Poland trying to find a company in here carrying about the startups to such an extent. The sad truth is, that there isn’t even one doing similar work, that Microsoft does in this field. Polish corporations are not interested in buying Polish startups and it’s really hard to cooperate with them even if you have a great product. No one cares that after few years they could be proud that they take part in building another Skype. It’s sad that most of corporation don’t give a shit about building such ecosystem in Poland.

I truly hope it is going to change soon!

Disclaimer:  I’m founder of Whalla Labs, we do Windows Phone and Windows 8 mobile apps - happy to be the part of Microsoft Bizpark. If you are interested to join the Microsoft BizSpark, take the first step and sign up here. How hard is that? :)



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