As Indian startups begin to make inroads in the world of SaaS, Microsoft has taken notice. The American tech giant today launched 100X100X100, a program aimed at business-to-business SaaS startups.
Microsoft said Monday that 100X100X100 will bring together 100 companies and 100 early and growth-stage startups. Each committed company will spend $100,000 over a course of 18 months.
“This initiative will help build scale and create amazing opportunities for startups. Businesses can now fast-track their digital journeys through easy adoption of enterprise-grade solutions,” said Anant Maheshwari, President of Microsoft India, in a statement.
Each startup participating in the program will also have access to prospective customers at Microsoft industry and customer events. Participants also get access to Microsoft’s technology platform and guidance in fine tuning their business and expansion models.
Microsoft is not a new face in India’s startup ecosystem. The company runs Microsoft for Startups that allows early-stage B2B startups to use the company’s Azure marketplace and enterprise sales team. Early last year, the company also expanded M12, its corporate venture fund, to India.
Google and Amazon, Microsoft’s global rivals, are also actively helping startups in India, sponsoring countless events and bandying out a range of goodies including thousands of dollars of credit to use their cloud platforms.
The idea is simple: If the bets work, these startups are already a customer and their solutions could be beneficial to several tens of thousands of other customers. And it’s a safe time to make these bets.
In recent years, scores of startups have emerged in India to build SaaS software following the success of firms such as Freshworks, valued at $3.5 billion, and CleverTap. Since SaaS startups are not building hardware, or disbursing loans, they often have the best profit margin.
Shekhar Kirani, a partner at Accel, told TechCrunch in a recent interview that his biggest frustration was not seeing many more entrepreneurs build SaaS services. “Anyone with some coding skills and a cheap laptop can build a service and sell to the world,” he said.
At a recent SaaS focused event, Godard Abel, chief executive of business marketplace G2, said that India was already among the top five nations for active participations for development of new business services.
As for Microsoft, expect several more announcements this week as its chief executive, Satya Nadella, appears at company’s flagship conference in the country today and tomorrow.