What types of businesses
is the Kinect Accelerator focusing on?
We are open to all great business ideas and innovations
that use Kinect. The Kinect Accelerator is for technology-oriented
companies who are interested in leveraging Kinect
for the Xbox360 platform or Windows. We’re also
looking for companies that can have national or
global reach. We have seen many interesting uses
of the technology in the short time Kinect has been
in market so we are excited to see new ideas and
which companies will apply.
How much funding do
companies in the Kinect Accelerator receive?
Each company will receive $20,000 in funding. You
also get great perks such as free hosting and services,
a nice place to work, and more. There are real benefits
in the connections and deep mentorship that you’ll
receive when you engage your company with the Kinect
Accelerator, and also in the opportunity to pitch
to angel investors, venture capitalists, industry
influentials and Microsoft executives at the end
of the program during our Investor and Demo Day.
In exchange for the program and the seed funding,
TechStars receives 6% equity in the form of common
stock. Many people ask what sort of controls the
stock granted to TechStars in exchange for the funding
and accelerator program includes. This is common
stock and as such it includes no special rights
or provisions beyond what the founders get themselves.
This means that no board seats, unusual voting rights,
veto rights, or other controls are involved.
Does Microsoft retain
equity in the companies participating in the Kinect
Microsoft does not retain equity in the companies
participating in the Kinect Accelerator. The funding
relationship is with TechStars. Microsoft is providing
the facilities, technical guidance, an Xbox SDK,
the Kinect for Windows SDK, a full complement of
Microsoft development tools and mentorship to help
build the company and concept in the program.
Does Microsoft retain
the IP that is developed during the Kinect Accelerator?
No, Microsoft does not retain IP developed during
the program. The IP developed by a participating
company is retained by the company.
I’m concerned that if
I apply, you won’t protect my intellectual property.
Should I be worried about this?
We won’t show your application to anyone outside
of the Kinect Accelerator team. We will see hundreds
of applications, however, and many of them include
similar ideas. For this and other practical reasons,
please don’t ask us to sign an NDA. Our application
does not ask for your “secret sauce”, and there
is no reason you have to disclose this to us if
you’re not comfortable doing so.
Is a participating company
guaranteed to be published by Microsoft?
No, there are no guarantees. Participating in the
program will allow your company to develop a concept
with the opportunity to publish on the Xbox. Game
studios with experience publishing Xbox content
may wish to engage your company to support the final
delivery of an application or game. Xbox has a rigorous
quality standard for the content being published
on the Xbox platform, and those standards will not
be compromised. But, the goal of the accelerator
is to create companies that can and will publish
content that meets these standards. The Investor
Demo Day will provide an opportunity to show off
concepts to studios and investors that can help
bring a prototype to launch.
Will all the mentors
come from Microsoft?
No. While Microsoft will contribute many mentors,
most of them are successful entrepreneurs and investors
who are interested in Kinect or related technologies
and many of them have prior experience as mentors
at TechStars. Microsoft does have strong competencies
in both the technology and the business of building
Kinect applications and these mentors will be available.
But mentors will also be engaged from across industries
in both business and technology. There is no intent
to constrain the mentors to one field or one set
of companies. Our goal is to create very broad industry
and investor support for the selected companies.
Why does TechStars get
stock in my company?
Microsoft brings the technology, mentorship and
strong business acumen to the accelerator, but Microsoft
is not a seed investment firm. TechStars has direct
experience running successful startup accelerator
programs across the country, and is experienced
in managing seed-stage equity investments. Additionally,
TechStars will continue to mentor and guide the
companies after they have completed the accelerator
cycle at Microsoft. The companies in the accelerator
get the best of both worlds, the technical and business
acumen of Microsoft, specifically, Kinect, and the
support and guidance of experienced seed accelerator
How can we get funded
after the Kinect Accelerator ends?
TechStars will provide the seed funding to get you
going, but you may well need more funding to really
make it. Near the end of the three month program,
we’ll organize an Investor Demo Day where Microsoft
executives as well as angel investors, venture capitalists
and industry influentials from all over the country
will check out your technology and listen to your
pitch. We’ll coach you so you’re as effective as
possible, and do everything we can do help get you
follow on funding. We anticipate that with the backing
and mentorship provided by Microsoft, and in partnership
with TechStars, that the participating companies
will have ready access to additional capital.
Can I only launch my
product on the Xbox 360?
No. This is the Kinect Accelerator, so, the ultimate
goal here is to create businesses that leverage
the Kinect for Xbox or Windows. That does not preclude
the solution to be available on other mobile, web
or tablet platforms as a complement to the Xbox
or Windows-based Kinect solution. If Kinect is supported
by your company in an innovative or exciting way,
then it’s a fit.
What if my company is
not an expert at developing Kinect solutions?
The Kinect Accelerator is focused on bringing all
of the resources and talent required to create new
applications and games into one place to mix with
the drive of entrepreneurs to result in solutions.
Microsoft will provide technical training and guidance
on Kinect development and on key components like
the Xbox SDK and the Kinect for Windows SDK, but
each company in the Kinect Accelerator must be capable
of building their own solution.
Why did Microsoft partner
with TechStars on this program?
TechStars is one of the leading technology incubators
in the world and has a program that brings business
ideas to market. Their network of proven entrepreneurial
mentors and connection with investors makes them
a great place for companies to bring innovative
ideas so they can turn them into exciting businesses.
We love that Kinect is a technology and platform
that can be at the center of these innovations and
Is my company “too far
along” to apply to the Kinect Accelerator? Or “too early”?
Probably not. We’ll take companies starting with
fully developed products and funding. We’ll help
them with business model, introductions, financing,
and more. Likewise, nothing is too early. We’ll
accept companies with no more than an idea, a dream,
and maybe a dog.
Do I have to be there
for the entire 3 month period?
No. It’s your company so you can come and go as
you see fit. But we do require that you be primarily
based on site in downtown Seattle during the program.
This benefits you because you can take advantage
of the numerous learning opportunities, networking
and coaching that will be provided. The Kinect Accelerator
is a major commitment, and we expect you to be around
most of the time.
Do I have to stay Seattle
when the program ends after 3 months?
No. It’s your company, so you’ll live where you
Can I apply if our company
or founders are not from the USA? Can you help with
Yes. Anyone from anywhere can apply. You do have
to be legally in the U.S. during the program, of
course. Once accepted, we can help with legal/immigration
issues by leveraging our contacts and network to
help. However, we cannot help with them in advance
of acceptance to the Kinect Accelerator.
Can you tell me more
about the networking and educational opportunities?
About two or three times per week, we will organize
an informal dinner and invite our mentors to speak
on a relevant topic. These will be presented as
appropriate by highly successful entrepreneurs,
angel investors, legal experts, venture capitalists,
investment bankers, etc. Sometimes, we’ll just organize
a brief talk with Q&A by a CEO or CTO of a well-known
local startup. We’ll even venture out to some of
these companies and do the session there. In addition,
top executives and techies from Microsoft, will
visit on a regular basis and provide early feedback
and opportunities to our companies. All of these
sessions will be very informal and give you plenty
of time to interact with the mentors personally.
What if my company doesn’t
Well, at least you tried. Because not just anyone
is accepted into the Kinect Accelerator program,
you’ll have an impressive resume item for your next
gig that will look way better than almost anything
else you could have spent your time doing. And you
will have met a large number of smart and well connected
people who can help you tremendously with whatever
you do next. Hopefully that will be another startup.
What sort of control
am I giving up by granting equity to TechStars?
TechStars expects to have all the same rights as
any other founder, relative to our minority ownership
position. In a nutshell, we don’t want any special
or controlling interests in your company. We won’t
ask for a board seat or for any uncommon investor
rights. You will still run the show.
Where will we live while
That’s up to you – we don’t provide a place to live.
If you’re accepted into Kinect Accelerator, TechStars
will immediately assign someone on our end to help
you find housing.
How do you choose which
companies to accept into the program and to fund?
We will choose great founders who are proposing
products that solve real problems or create meaningful
innovations. For us, it’s about the team. Because
of this reason, we’re less likely to accept single
founder companies. The best things you can do to
strengthen your application are:
- Round out your team with business, technical,
and other necessary skills.
- Make progress on your prototype or product
and reference it in the application.
- Show us you’ve really thought about your
business and have gotten off your butt to do
something about it.
Is my age a factor in
your selection process?
Do I need to send in
a business plan?
Nope. Just fill out the informal online application
– that’s all you need for us. In fact, we probably
don’t want to see your business plan if you have
When is the deadline
to apply and what’s the overall timeline?
Applications are being accepted now through February
8th, 2012. Check the
for details. If you apply early enough,
we may invite you to attend Kinect Accelerator For-a-Day,
space permitting. This is not a required step, but
it can be a great way to learn more about the Kinect
Accelerator program and for us to get to know each
Where is the Kinect
Accelerator office and what’s it like?
In Seattle near South Lake Union. The Kinect Accelerator
location is fully equipped and has both traditional
and lounge-like space. Of course, it’s your company
so you set your own schedule, office hours, etc.
My team outsources software
development. Are we still qualified to apply?
Yes. We think it’s best not to outsource what you
are, but it obviously works in some cases. We’re
happy to consider any application. Just remember
that we’re primarily focused on the team.
Why didn’t my company
get selected for the Kinect Accelerator?
We read every application and considered every company.
The response was fantastic and the selection of
the finalist was very competitive. Some companies
were simply better candidates for the unique mentoring
opportunities that we will have in this program.
Some companies, or teams, were not fully committed
to moving to Seattle or starting a private company.
Some applications were from design firms, but not
independent companies ready to be funded as part
of this program. Certain markets, and related products,
held more appeal than others. For more details on
why some companies were not selected see this
Have additional questions
not answered here?