M12, the corporate venture capital investment arm of technology major Microsoft, has opened its first India office in Bengaluru as it looks for opportunities in the local startup ecosystem.
The venture will scout for business-to-business (B2B) software startups across sectors such as applied artificial intelligence (AI), business applications, infrastructure, security and vanguard technologies, according to a statement.
The fund invests in the range of $2-10 million in enterprise software startups in the Series A through C funding stages, targeting both local and cross-border solutions.
Previously known as Microsoft Ventures, M12 has offices in San Francisco, Seattle, London, and Tel Aviv. Since its founding in 2016, the fund has invested in 90 companies.
“Typically, we see the greatest hurdles in a startup’s journey as they scale from local success to global challengers, and then again when they go on to become category leaders. Both inflection points require specific and deep organisational strength, proven talent, GTM (go-to-market) partnerships and global investors,” Abhi Kumar, India lead for M12, said in a statement.
Post-investment, M12 portfolio startups can work with the fund’s development team, which helps them with growth opportunities through connections to Microsoft’s go-to-market resources. Selected startups also get access to Microsoft technology and internal thought leaders and co-marketing opportunities, the statement added.
Microsoft’s startup ecosystem also includes its various startup engagement programs such as Microsoft for Startup. It also has a business development team that engages in strategic mergers and acquisitions.
Last year, M12 had joined hands with global venture capital firm Mayfield and Melinda Gates's Pivotal Ventures for the second edition of the global female founders competition. The competition aims to accelerate funding for women entrepreneurs developing B2B, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and deep-technology solutions.
Microsoft for Startups had earlier announced a startup initiative named as Highway to a Hundred Unicorns to mentor and support startups in tier-II cities of India.
Microsoft set up its India operations in 1990 and currently has over 11,000 employees, engaged in sales and marketing, research, development and customer services and support, across 11 Indian cities.