Featured Network Partners: Microsoft BizSpark

Our Network Partners share our passion for driving the success of software startups through mentoring, networking, business advice, financial assistance, and peer connections. Network Partners know the startup environment and understand what it takes to succeed.

Featured Network Partner

Company: Proto.in
Interviewee: Vijay Anand, Founder and Curator
Web Site: www.proto.in

Proto.in celebrates entrepreneurship by encouraging and showcasing it where it matters most — at the Startup level. Based out of Chennai, India, Proto.in is a showcase event for the Startup community in India. By providing a platform throughout the Indian subcontinent, this Microsoft Network Partner enables Startups to participate, share, discuss and draw strength from the growing entrepreneurial community. It has showcased many Indian Startups as well as Malaysian, African and American Startups from diverse domains such as cleantech and ultrasonic technology to clay modeling and animation. Here is our conversation with Vijay Anand, Founder and Curator of Proto.in

Q: Tell us a little about your company and its mission?

Proto.in, is a community of Startup entrepreneurs of more than 400 Startups, a little over 3,000 entrepreneurs, and the angel and investment community in India, who come together to create, collaborate and contribute to the growing ecosystem. India is still quite nascent when it comes to the Startup scene. Given the rising number of people who are focused on entrepreneurial agendas, and with the transition that the country is going through, there was a need to set up a platform where people could come together and celebrate the best of entrepreneurial efforts. Think of Proto.in as the Oscars for the Startup world in India. We’re about giving entrepreneurs a platform to express their visions and showcase their imagination with a working prototype for the world to see. It’s about increasing partnership, collaboration, and mindshare among a distinguished, qualified, and well-connected audience. We provide a unique platform for promising Startup talent to communicate their creativity and innovation potential.

Q: When did you first hear about the Microsoft® BizSpark™ program and how were you recruited?

We heard about the program last year. Microsoft’s Girish Joshi was probably the main reason that we bought into this concept and are working together.

Q: What does your portfolio think about the program? Is it helpful?

Extremely. In a scenario like India where people are resorting to piracy to keep costs affordable, it’s great to have a program like BizSpark that helps bring Startups into the system, legalize this issue, and, at the same time, also provides them a support system to grow and succeed.

Q: What have you been doing to successfully sign up Startups?

Evangelizing among the community that Microsoft has such an offer — there is a link on the blog, and occasional tweets on Twitter.

Q: Is there a particularly interesting or successful Startup that you’re currently working with that you’d like to highlight?

There have been quite a few BizSpark sign ups, but not much to highlight at this point. There is one company named Uniphore (www.uniphore.com) that is working on a voice-based delivery platform for information via mobile phones. It makes a lot of sense for a country like India where PCs and Internet penetration are quite low. They seem quite interesting. Uniphore works in the Voice Interaction space, and one of the biggest hindrances for them was the cost involved with speech recognition technologies by some of the vendors. The BizSpark programs allowed for the option to look into alternatives such as MS Speech Server without incurring the cost of testing the waters toward that alternative.

Q: What is the one most effective thing that you’ve done to attract Startups to the BizSpark program?

The link to the BizSpark site from the blog. The blog receives the most amount of traffic as of now, so this is helping quite a bit.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, how would you rate the BizSpark program?

An eight. So far, we’ve received about 50 leads. This should rise in the next few months.