RIYADH: With Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 blueprint stirring up the entrepreneurial landscape, startups in the Kingdom are all steamed up to take their businesses to the next level.
A case in point is the widening scope of the Kingdom in Microsoft for Startups, a global incentive program of Microsoft Corp. dedicated to helping startups to scale their growth.
“Ten percent of our startups in the region right now are in Saudi Arabia, and the numbers will grow way more because the ecosystem in the Kingdom is really heating up,” Roberto Croci, managing director at Microsoft for Startups, the Middle East and Africa, told Arab News.
Ten percent of our startups in the region right now are in Saudi Arabia, and the numbers will grow way more because the ecosystem in the Kingdom is really heating up.
The program supports entrepreneurs with the technology, tools and resources required to build and run their business, besides leveraging its corporate and enterprise network to provide startups with market intelligence and mentorship. It essentially bridges the gap between startups and big companies.
“If we can make these resources accessible to startups, I think we’re unlocking a huge potential,” said Croci.
He further added: “This is where we want to differentiate. At the top of the technology pillar, we want to help startups build great products that can scale and integrate with third-party applications.”
The hunt for talent
The company has been diligently driving accelerator programs such as Founders Hub and GrowthX, focusing on improving company performance rather than funding.
“The two main pillars of our programs are centered around access to technology and markets,” Croci said while adding that the platform will launch a new accelerator program to focus on sustainability startups in the Middle East and North Africa.
The platform plans to widen its horizon by focusing not only on the funding aspect of a startup but also on the impact it leaves on society at large.
“We always read about funding rounds in the news, but what about the funding outcome? Are these startups growing? We should talk about successful startups, not those that raise huge sums, but those that leave a lasting impact on society,” opined Croci.
The company focuses on startups in stages between pre-seed and series B, especially pre-series A and series A.
Microsoft does not directly invest in startups, but when the company finds growth potential, it recommends them to M12, a venture capital fund under its fold.
The company also hosts “demo day” for the fledgling companies, an event that directly connects them with the investors.
Thanks to the encouragement, fintech and healthcare firms have emerged on top of Microsoft’s startup mountain and are well poised to unleash a growth wave in the economy.
As they say in the angel funding circles, there is no greater joy than catching them young and watching them grow.