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Bing Fund is an angel fund with an incubator program, founded by entrepreneurs, sponsored by Bing, and backed by the experience, expertise, and resources of Microsoft. It will enroll startups on an ongoing basis, investing in and working with a small number at any given time. We will provide them with unprecedented access to Microsoft technology, co-workspace, and subject matter experts. We will also help share the innovations of Bing Fund startups with the widest possible audience.
2. Is Bing Fund an accelerator like TechStars? Is it a venture fund?
Bing Fund makes angel investments and works closely with startups in our portfolio to take their businesses to critical mass. We look forward to partnering with accelerators to find candidates for Bing Fund from among their classes, and we also want to hear from repeat entrepreneurs. We are not a venture fund, but will partner with the Venture Capital community.
3. Why has Microsoft created this program?
We have tremendous respect for the talent, ingenuity, and passion of entrepreneurs, and recognize that startups play a vital role in technology innovation. We believe that combining the fresh insights of startups with Microsoft’s expertise and tremendous reach creates a unique formula for driving the industry forward.
4. What is the size of the fund?
We are focusing our resources on a few startups at a time. As we graduate one startup out of the program we will fill their spot with another. We really want to give each startup the time and dedication that they need to succeed.
5. What kind of startups are you looking for?
First and foremost, we’re looking for startups that are building online or mobile experiences that incorporate fresh insights. We want startups with both inspirational vision and ability to execute.
Startups should be incorporated in the United States, and should have at minimum a working prototype, preferably one that is live (i.e. people can sign up to use it). We’d also like to see a compelling plan that describes the problem being solved, the market potential and competitive landscape, and unique market advantages. We expect startup founders to be dedicated full-time. Our program cannot accommodate “part-time” entrepreneurs.
6. What benefits does Bing Fund provide to startups in the program?
We offer subsidized use of unique APIs from Bing’s data ecosystem, the opportunity to access to certain technology assets developed by Microsoft Research, funding, and co-workspace. Participants are not required to use Microsoft technology. We will facilitate consultations with Subject Matter Experts, some of whom are world experts in their areas, and provide assistance from Bing Fund team members who specialize in design, engineering, marketing, and building businesses. We will also give them exposure to executives across Microsoft. Each company’s Intellectual Property and products, of course, remain their own.
7. What does Microsoft expect in return?
We expect to build strong relationships within the startup community, which will expose us to new companies that we could potentially partner with and/or acquire.
8. What if my company is not located in the Seattle area?
While we will be able to give more hands-on assistance to startups that are nearby, as long as your company is incorporated in the United States, you will get the same benefits, with the exception of co-workspace.
9. Why is your workspace located in Bellevue and not Seattle?
The offices of Microsoft’s Online Services Division are located in Bellevue. Our workspace is in Bellevue to facilitate collaboration with the Bing Fund team. In addition, some of the leading experts on machine learning, conversational understanding, NUI, search, and data, work in Bellevue.
10. Does Bing Fund require that participating companies use the Microsoft development stack?
We would love to help startups explore the benefits of developing on Windows Azure, which they can get via BizSpark, but using Microsoft’s development stack is not a requirement.
11. How do I apply for the Bing Fund program?
If you feel your startup would be a strong candidate for Bing Fund, please contact us via our website. We welcome referrals from startups in accelerator programs, particularly those in BizSpark Plus.
12. Should my startup apply to Bing Fund, Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure, and BizSpark? Can we apply to all of them?
Any of these programs could be appropriate for your startup, depending on your stage of development and the kind of resources and support you need.
BizSpark is open to all startups that are developing software, privately held, less than 3 years old, and generating less than $1 million in annual revenue. If you meet those qualifications and the benefits that BizSpark offers would help you, you need not apply. Simply sign up.
If your startup is at an earlier stage or you are a first-time entrepreneur, Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure, powered by TechStars, might be a better option. Bing Fund is more appropriate if your startup already has momentum; at a minimum you should have a working prototype and a solid business plan. We will consider companies going through accelerator programs for Bing Fund, so conceivably you could do both a Microsoft Accelerator program and Bing Fund.
13. How long does the program last?
Each startup will work with Bing Fund for a minimum of four months. We expect some engagements will last longer, depending on the team’s momentum. We will enroll startups on an on-going basis rather than in a single class.
14. If we complete the program successfully, will Microsoft buy my company?
While we can’t make any guarantees, acquisition is always a possibility.
15. Can accelerators in a major city or university partner with Bing Fund?
We will work primarily with accelerators and incubators that are part of Microsoft’s BizSpark Plus program. For information on joining BizSpark Plus, please contact BizSpark@microsoft.com.
16. Will you help me get Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates for my board?
We love entrepreneurs who dream big.
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