Here is a simple Q&A about the just announced Bing Fund. We are providing these answers for you to help keep you informed.
- 1. What is Bing Fund?
Bing Fund is an angel incubator founded by entrepreneurs, sponsored by Bing, and backed by the experience, expertise, and resources of Microsoft.
- 2. Is Bing Fund an accelerator like TechStars? Is it a venture fund?
Bing Fund is an angel investor and incubator, backed by Microsoft, that accepts startups with a working prototype and a plan into our program on an ongoing basis. We look forward to partnering with accelerators to find candidates for Bing Fund from among their graduates, and we also want to hear from repeat entrepreneurs.
- 3. Why has Microsoft created this program?
We have tremendous respect for the talent, ingenuity, and passion of entrepreneurs. We will be a supporting part of the virtual team for each Bing Fund startup, helping them reach critical mass. We want their breakthrough innovations to be beautifully designed, expertly engineered, and unleashed to the widest possible audience.
- 4. What kind of startups are you looking for?
First and foremost, we’re looking for startups who are innovating online to solve big problems or create amazing new experiences. We will invest in great talent. We want founders with passion, who can advocate enthusiastically and successfully for their company and its product. We want talent that has not only market awareness and technical chops, but also insight into how the next wave of online interaction will unfold. Next we’re looking for at minimum a working prototype, preferably one that is live (i.e. people can sign up to use it). Finally, we’d like to see a compelling plan that describes the problem being solved, the market potential and competitive landscape, and unique market advantages.
- 5. What benefits does Bing Fund provide to startups in the program?
We offer free usage of unique APIs from Bing’s data ecosystem and access to a portfolio of technology assets, developed by Microsoft Research, unavailable anywhere else. 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 offer co-workspace to startups local to the Seattle area.
- 6. What does Microsoft expect in return?
We want to ensure that you are successful, because your success is ultimately our success. For example, we’re always looking to add game-changing, disruptive innovations to our lineup.
- 7. Can startups located outside of the US apply for Bing Fund?
For now, we are only accepting startups incorporated in the United States.
- 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 who 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. Does Bing Fund require that I use Windows Azure or Microsoft development tools?
No, but if you’d like to use Microsoft tools or platforms we can help.
- 10. Does my startup need to use BING Search in order to qualify for the Bing Fund program?
- 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?
Both programs could be appropriate for your startup, depending on your stage of development. If your startup is at an earlier stage or you are a first-time entrepreneur, Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure, powered by TechStars, would 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 programs.
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.
- 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. Will Microsoft help my company get funding?
Part of our commitment is to introduce you to strategic investors at the appropriate time.
- 16. What is the size of the fund?
Since we are an active angel investor & incubator we are focusing our resources on ten startups at a time. As we graduate a 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.
- 17. 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.
- 18. We are an accelerator in a major city or university. How do we partner with the Bing Fund?
- 19. Will you help me get Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates for my board?
We love entrepreneurs who dream big.