Kerala start-ups join Microsoft-laden path to become India's 100 unicorns

Kochi | Updated on November 22, 2019 Published on November 22, 2019

Kerala’s start-up ecosystem strengthened its prospect of a quantum jump in growth profile when Microsoft initiated nascent companies into a business mentorship programme that catalyses their scalability in the long run.

Microsoft’s ambitious ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns’ project entered Kerala by rolling out guidance and networking sessions to start-ups from the State at a day-long event on Friday.

As many as 12 select Kerala firms are vying for a national-level round that ensures advanced guidance on developing products, strategies and funds for three finalist start-ups towards becoming companies valued above $1 billion.

It’s high time India had its start-up ecosystems in cities beyond the metros, and that’s why the Microsoft mission is holding the event at Kochi after rounds in Gujarat and Rajasthan, speakers noted at the inaugural session of the programme held in association with Kerala Start-up Mission (KSUM).

Kerala’s status as a state with a rich variety of start-ups has led Microsoft to choose 12 among them for long-term mentorship, instead of the ten that has been the case earlier with Gujarat and Rajasthan, according to Lathika S Pai, Country Head, Microsoft for Startups (MENA and SAARC). “That’s why we have titled the Kerala leg ‘Emerge X’ instead of ‘Emerge 10’,” Pai pointed out.

M Sivasankar, IT Secretary, Kerala, said Microsoft’s ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns’ project has come to the state at the right time. “We are in a stage now where there is the structure, but without a roof. This programme will help Kerala’s start-ups gain an ecosystem that gets built sheet by sheet,” he noted.

KSUM Chief Executive Officer Saji Gopinath said start-ups in Kerala follow five stages in their course of growth. Promotion of innovative minds in educational institutions, providing start-ups with infrastructure and subsequently incubating them must be followed up with long-term growth strategies.

The day saw a dozen experts from Microsoft mentoring nearly 200 start-ups at the event.

The ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns’ project under the Microsoft for Start-ups initiative across states enables start-ups to reach customers across the globe by leveraging the cloud marketplace, enterprise sales team and partner ecosystem. With its strong focus on advanced technology platform, growing partner ecosystem and M12 venture fund, Microsoft hopes to help start-ups embrace the next phase of growth, and evolve from being market-ready to enterprise-ready.

Published on November 22, 2019
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