The Microsoft® Accelerator for Kinect

Frequently Asked Questions

Find out answers to the most commonly asked questions.

About Kinect Accelerator

What types of businesses is the Kinect Accelerator focusing on?
How much funding do companies in the Kinect Accelerator receive?
Does Microsoft retain equity in the companies participating in the Kinect Accelerator?
Does Microsoft retain the IP that is developed during the Kinect Accelerator?
I’m concerned that if I apply, you won’t protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about this?
Is a participating company guaranteed to be published by Microsoft?
Will all the mentors come from Microsoft?
Why does TechStars get stock in my company?
How can we get funded after the Kinect Accelerator ends?
Can I only launch my product on the Xbox 360?
What if my company is not an expert at developing Kinect solutions?
Why did Microsoft partner with TechStars on this program?
Is my company "too far along" to apply to the Kinect Accelerator? Or "too early"?
Do I have to be there for the entire 3 month period?
Do I have to stay Seattle when the program ends after 3 months?
Can I apply if our company or founders are not from the USA? Can you help with Visa/immigration issues?
Can you tell me more about the networking and educational opportunities?
What if my company doesn’t ultimately succeed?
What sort of control am I giving up by granting equity to TechStars?
Where will we live while we’re there?
How do you choose which companies to accept into the program and to fund?
Is my age a factor in your selection process?
Do I need to send in a business plan?
When is the deadline to apply and what’s the overall timeline?
Where is the Kinect Accelerator office and what’s it like?
My team outsources software development. Are we still qualified to apply?
Why didn’t my company get selected for the Kinect Accelerator?
Have additional questions not answered here?




About Kinect Accelerator

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 Accelerator?

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 operators.

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 businesses.

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 want to.

Can I apply if our company or founders are not from the USA? Can you help with Visa/immigration issues?

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 ultimately succeed?

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 we’re there?

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?

No.

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 one.

When is the deadline to apply and what’s the overall timeline?

Applications are being accepted now through February 8th, 2012. Check the schedule 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 other better.

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 blog post.

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