Microsoft Ventures partners with HTGF and Seedcamp – and eyes first deals in Berlin

Nina Fowler 2013-10-01 3

Microsoft Berlin

Syndicates are flavour of the month – and Microsoft Ventures, High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and Seedcamp have just agreed to team up to support startups in Berlin.

Microsoft is about two months away from the official opening of its new 3000m² building in Berlin, home to offices, an accelerator programme, an event space and showroom cafe.

The accelerator programme – one of several popping up around the world as part of new investment arm Microsoft Ventures, behind Tel Aviv, Bangalore and Beijing – will open on 11 November, shortly before the entire building is officially opened on 17 November. It will accept applications until 6 October and is expected to start with 10 to 13 startups.

The deal for startups

The Microsoft Ventures accelerator doesn’t offer funding and doesn’t take equity – at least not upon entry. Instead, participants get business consultancy and tech support services and four months of free office accommodation. Mentors already lined up include JustBook’s Stefan Menden and angel investors Tim Schumacher and Frank Thelen.

“I put strong emphasis on the fact that we’re not looking for startups that use Microsoft technology,” Stephan Jacquemot, who heads startup activities for Microsoft Germany, said in an interview. “We’re technology-agnostic so they can use whatever they want, as long as they’re good.”

The website does state startups in the programme must at least “be willing to try applicable Microsoft platforms”.

Some companies may be offered funding later: “After four months at Demo Day, we change hats and then we are an investor at the table,” Jacquemot said. “We look at the companies and then decide whether to invest or not.”

Microsoft Ventures’s “sweet spot” is an investment between €50,000 and €250,000. It always partners with other investors and always takes a minority stake, which means it will take the terms of whichever investor leads the deal.

It’s free to invest outside the accelerator and Jacquemot already has companies in mind in Berlin. “You will see investments from Microsoft rather sooner than later.”

Microsoft, HTGF, Seedcamp – who gets what?

In a new partnership announced today, seed investors HTGF and Seedcamp will help select companies for the accelerator programme in Berlin.

HTGF – one of the most prolific early-stage investors in Germany – will also get access to the space for meetings and will act as an in-house VC.

“We hope to find really good companies that we might be able to invest in but also the other way around – we have some really good companies or companies that we see in our deal flow that we could send to the accelerator to receive some support,” HTGF Managing Director Alex von Frankenberg said.

All startups backed by Seedcamp will get free access to coworking space in the building, which expands the value of its offer for companies who want to be based in Berlin. It will now hold flagship event Seedcamp Week at Microsoft Berlin in November.

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