Microsoft Ventures India went way beyond their 4 month accelerator program when they built an awesome, thriving, engaging community of founders. All this with a mobile app.
Microsoft Ventures India runs an accelerator program since September 2012. Twice a year, they invite between 10 and 15 startups, chosen from the 1,000+ applications they receive. These few elites are then mentored and pushed to accelerate their business for 4 months.
All the founders that have taken part in the accelerator program have a strong bond: they are all entrepreneurs, and they have all been encouraged and motivated for several months at Microsoft Ventures.
As Mr. Prasanna Krishnamoorthy, the CTO in residence, states:
Although we had a tightly knit group of startups, we lacked a tool to communicate and get together.
Microsoft Ventures India decided to give Minsh a try, and in July 2014, we launched the Microsoft Ventures India mobile app. The rules were clear from the start:
- only the startups, alumni, and staff from the accelerator program would be allowed to join. In total: approximately 60 startups and 100 people.
- the app would be available on all major platforms: iOS7+, Android 4+, and Windows Phone 8+.
When launching a new community app, the trickiest part is to get people to install it. Minsh provides support to all its clients for 30 days post-launch to help them promote their app and get members on-board. So, right after the official launch of the MSV app on July 22nd, 2014, We were there to help the staff make it a success. In summary:
- We started by getting all the MSV staff and the 12 startups currently in the accelerator program to join.
- We sent a bulk email to all the alumni to encourage them to install the app too.
- We sent individual emails to the alumni that hadn’t replied to the bulk email.
- We also used a few other tricks. But I’ll tell you more about how to successfully launch your community app in my next post.
Within 2 weeks, over 50 entrepreneurs had signed up, and by early September more than 70% of the alumni were on board.
The most striking metrics in this case study is how usage has grown in an organic way since the official launch. After 2 months, the community manager of the app didn’t need to post content anymore. Many members were already using the app on a daily basis and inviting latecomers to join them.
Prasanna Krishnamoorthy notes:
We have seen the engagement grow organically, which is a certain sign that our community loves it.
The community members themselves are telling how satisfied they are with the app:
As one of the early adopters, I was amazed to see people signing in and engaging more and more in the app… to a point where there is now something interesting happening on a daily basis.
I love to post pictures and news about what’s happening at the accelerator right now. And I guess the alumni like it too, judging from the number of comments and likes I get!
Although I’m not often posting myself, I really enjoy reading the other founders’ posts and getting to know what’s happening at Microsoft Ventures. I readily open the app every time I get a push-notification.
Being from batch #1 and based in Hyderabad, it has been difficult for me to stay in touch with the staff at Microsoft Ventures and the other startups. With the app, I feel much more involved in the community and informed about the latest news. It’s been a wonderful experience so far.
Today, the staff at Microsoft Ventures India can reach their community in their pocket within seconds.
Mrs. Prathibha Sastry, the Head of Operations at MSV agrees:
Thanks to the app, I only need 30 seconds to notify our startup community about upcoming events. This is a wonderful tool to instantly broadcast information to members.
Microsoft Ventures India now has a direct and fast communication channel with its startup community.