3 years ago to the month, I was at the crossroads. Having moved back to India and grown, then sold BuzzGain, I had founded my next startup and found a way to grow a new business.
I was spending more time helping entrepreneurs and was interested in starting a new company, but I realized that having a bigger impact is what I was seeking.
I met with Amaresh, at an event called Think Next in May and he was a very nice, humble and wicked smart guy was my impression. When he started talking to me about the Microsoft Accelerator program, I was keen to help. He then offered to get me on board full time and I was (as was everyone else) very surprised. I agreed because I thought the money and resources that Microsoft had, directed at the right places to help the startup ecosystem would go a long way to help India.
At about the same time, Rahul, Neda and David started the Bing Fund, with similar interests – to help entrepreneurs by investing in startups. Similar initiatives were started by others in other locations. A small, but passionate crew at Microsoft were keen to engage the startup community and help entrepreneurs.
Microsoft Ventures was formed in March 2015, when we brought all the startup resources into one single organization. We announced it in June 2013. It was going to comprise of an ecosystem program – BizSpark, accelerators to help startups grow and a fund to help startups scale.
From 2012 to 2014, I was in India, and built some great relationships there with investors and entrepreneurs. Microsoft Ventures was name the #1 accelerator in India by Economic times.
Late last year, I decided to move to Seattle to take on a bigger responsibility, but also to bring the startup culture to the large corporate Microsoft entity. After Satya became the CEO, it was more acceptable than before to be entrepreneurial at Microsoft.
Microsoft is big, large and great at many things, and is learning to be nimble and move quick, is my sense, after being here for a year in Seattle.There are many folks who have been here for over 15-20 years who are resistant to change and many folks who are very open to change as well.
Nonetheless, I had a lot fun, I think we had some impact and we certainly made a lot of friends. We helped many entrepreneurs and not a day goes by when I dont get an email from someone who wants to work for Ventures or be funded by the organization.
I think I will miss the entrepreneurs I interact with daily, the most, as part of Ventures, but I suspect I will continue to work with startups. Mostly I will miss working with an entrepreneurial team of folks who care deeply about startups.