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Early Applicant Trends from our Home Automation Accelerator

Posted on: July 16, 2014


By Mukund Mohan, Director, Microsoft Ventures (@mukundmohan)

We only announced the Microsoft Venture Accelerator in Partnership with American Family Insurance about a month ago and have been receiving a remarkable number of applications from companies innovating in the home automation space.


So far we’ve met with over 180 entrepreneurs in Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles and San Francisco. This Thursday, July 17, we are in New York and next Tuesday, July 22, we are in Seattle where the event will be live-streamed (follow #MVMeetup for details). Please sign up to learn more about Microsoft Ventures, startups innovating in the IoT (Internet of Things) space and how to apply for the accelerator. Applications for the accelerator will close on July 25 and the cohort will begin on August 11.


Below are a few early trends and patterns we are seeing among the applicants already. This data presented is from our applications and the startups we engaged with at our meetups over the past month.


Location: We did expect a lot of companies from the valley (31%) but Central US at over 17% was a huge surprise over both New York and Boston.


If you look at the F6S data and AngelList, that’s not necessarily the case. More startups on AngelList are in the west US than the east by a significant amount. Since nearly 45% of the startups in the home automation space are in the “things” side of “Internet of things”, we noticed that hardware startups seem to be more prevalent in central US (Chicago, Austin, etc.) than in the east. We have a fair number of applicants from Europe, but Kickstarter has not had a big enough effect there yet.


Areas of Home Automation: The second interesting trend is the areas within home automation that are getting the most attention. While many reports suggest that the two biggest areas are home entertainment and security, we saw many in Climotics and Plant & Garden. The feedback we got from talking to many entrepreneurs is that the current drought occurring in most of the west has been a big contributor) to this innovation.



State of Company: Finally most of the companies that applied were still in bootstrap mode, but I am adding a new bucket of classification called “Kickstarter campaign.”


The biggest effect that Kickstarter has had is on the stage of the startups themselves. These companies (nearly 18%) of whom applied are folks who have raised a small amount of money from Kickstarter campaigns to the average tune of about $200K.


I want to caution that although we have a very large sample, we are still two weeks away from the final tally and based on our experience, over 40% of applications, historically, have come in on the last week. I suspect the trend will continue but I am pretty confident that these three higher order trends will remain.


I’d love your comments on why you think we are seeing more startups in the central region and your thoughts on the diminishing numbers of startups in the home security space. Or ask on Twitter by following us (@msftventures) and using #MVMeetup

Our applications close on 25th July, so please apply now if you are a hot startup in the home automation space.


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