Deconstructing the Accelerator: Breaking Down Application Data

Date Updated: Saturday, October 6, 2018

Since applications for our next Accelerator in Seattle opened in December, we’ve had the opportunity to explore the future of Digital Work. As we at Microsoft see it, Digital Work spans productivity, collaboration, communications, project management, big data and SaaS applications. We identified about 2700 startups that we felt were innovating the Digital Work space, providing an orthogonal or tangential view into the future of how we work. By the end of our startup search, we had over 500 applications for our accelerator program starting March 16th here in Seattle.

Last week, Sonal Mane took us through the startup discovery and selection process. This week, we thought it would be interesting to identify and share some of the trends happening amongst our applicant pool, so we dug into the data.

Of the 500+ companies that applied, over 80% were from the U.S., 30+ were from Canada, and the remainder hailed from Europe and Asia. We were surprised to learn that Chicago and New York yielded the most applicants—which tells us that we have work to do in Silicon Valley—but also gives us hope that other U.S. regions and cities are beginning to value entrepreneurship, and that startups outside the Valley are thriving.

As for type of startup, 31% of applicants are working in the area of Analytics and Business Intelligence. Within this area, solutions appear to be vertical and industry-specific. For example, “Data as a Service” solutions are popular right now. A company might take data from wearable devices and share this data with insurance companies in order to reduce medical premiums.

About 14% of the companies are focused on improving the CRM experience—from startups helping SMBs automate their Facebook advertising to companies helping large consumer product companies like Procter and Gamble with audience discovery on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Many companies are also taking a look at sales force automation and trying to simplify the entry of opportunity data using location-aware, context-aware data on your mobile phone.

Finally, while a handful of applicants focus on individual productivity, for instance trying to make Word, Excel or PowerPoint better and easier to use on mobile phones, over 11% work in the collaboration and communication space. Some of the latter might be described as “Slack for construction,” “Yammer for field force automation,” or “Pinterest for real estate brokers.”

In terms of gender, we found that 51% of companies that applied had all male co-founders or a solo founder who was male, 37% did not disclose, and 12% had female founders. Surprisingly, of the 49 women-founded companies, 77% were solo founders compared to only 17% for solo male founders.

We also observed another interesting data point; over 46% of companies that applied were bootstrapped, compared to only 21% of the consumer hardware startups that applied to the previous Seattle cohort. And 78% of our applicants already have a product in beta or in account trials, or had customers paying for their product.

You can see from the data that we had some interesting trends in our applicant pool. Many of the startups were fairly mature, their solutions addressed a wide range of challenges within the Digital Work space, and most were based in the U.S. and had male founders.

Curious to see which startups were selected for Digital Work accelerator and how they stack up against the data? Make sure to follow us on Twitter and here on the Microsoft Ventures blog so you don’t miss the new cohort announcement!

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