Bill Gates Keynotes SXSW and Other Things You Will Tell Your Kids One Day

To start off this bit of news, we recently found out our old commander-in-chief Bill Gates is going to be kicking off SXSW. How's that, hipsters!? 

From hipsters, we move to entrepreneurs. Namely, the entrepreneurs that have been slamming our Facebook page with advice, experience and narratives of how they have started up their own companies. Here are some of the week's best discussions (actually, this is just over a week, from right before New Year's Eve to today).

Is culture the catalyst for starting up a company? How do you want to change culture with your startup?


One particular entrpreneur, Chase Aucoin, is thinking very locally, saying that it's the job of his company to change the work culture in his town:

"To provide a workplace that harbor success and creativity and creates a profit without crushing the souls of it's workforce in the process. And provides fair living wages without the use of fear to wrangle existing employees to stay active."

The conversations this week also steered towards the more charitable, as Urban Txt, a non-profit in Los Angeles helping teens learn to code, showed off one of the phones we sent them.

We found out that several dozen members in our community are working diligently on Windows 8 apps and services on Windows Azure, which is good for company morale, of course!

Entrepreneurs told us that in company culture, startups work like marriages -- which is something of a cliche these days -- but that they also work like Special Ops teams.

What will it take for startups to succeed in what is being called a dire economic period for the first half of 2013?  And the priorities seem to be in this order:  funding, focus, and then a great marketing strategy. What do you think you will need to do in 2013 to explode out of startup mode into scaling up mode?

We also heard that hope and failure were a common theme. What began earlier in the week as a pretty fierce discussion about failure, see this thread, ended up being a theme on how to rise above the ashes in another post.

But it all ended up pretty well. We showcased two of the startups that are about to graduate from the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure, powered by Tech Stars.  They are Embarke and BagsUp, and they are now prepping for their first demo day in Seattle on January 17. They will do that in Seattle, then they will come down to Silicon Valley on January 31 for another demo day in front of the Silicon Valley set. We wish them luck. 

Embarke is made up of Al Bsharah and Bryan Hall. They are making really smart analytics for email marketing in the hopes that they can make the inbox more social and the marketing teams of companies smarter in how they engage with consumers. And while they have been working hard on building this startup, they have not forgotten to stop for fun. Here's a shot of them on the plane on the way to the Accelerator about three months ago. 



Visit Embarke onlline.


And then there's BagsUp, founded by three guys who had earlier sold their technology startup to Travelocity. Australian as they come, two of the founders, Carl Jackson and Ben Jackson, sat down with me and told me about how they work as a team when they are all together. Basically, it's all intuition. 


If you want to belong to the next Azure Accelerator, you should visit this link

To cap it off, time to show off this photo of a "Hot Surface" in our London offices in the UK. 

@Lee_stott captured here enjoying his "Hot Surface" by DPE Technical Manager in Microsoft UK  Andrew McCartney


If you wish to be included in future blog posts on this blog, please look at this definitive advice guide on how to get Microsoft to write about your startup.

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