“What problem do you want to solve?”, asks Rahul Sood, Microsoft Ventures

Rahul SoodWhat’s your motivation as an entrepreneur? To raise money, exit early, or to make a difference to people’s lives? This was the crux of the message that Rahul Sood (General Manager, Microsoft Ventures) wanted to leave to Nasscom Product Conclave (NPC) 2013 audience. “Get local and hyperlocal,” he pointed out taking an example of Brazil, the country in which the products are built only for local population and then taken global. For example, a chip has been planted inside cow to know its lifecycle and the whole technology of monitoring lifecycle is on cloud. Transportation offers one huge opportunity to solve problems in India. He related his own experience of getting out of a railway signal on his way from airport to hotel in Bangalore. The cab he travelled was stopped at a railway crossing for the train to cross. Just when the gates were opened after the train crossed over, there was a mad rush to get ahead and cross. He provided a solution: technology can enable the closure of gates just to let train pass and avoid the mad rush.How to change the behaviour of people who wanted to get ahead is one valid question to ask. His message: “Take on big problems that often scale.” In a country of a billion people, there should be a multitude of problems looking for solutions.

Rahul said entrepreneurs look to raise money early by selling a larger stake and are left with little equity to solve the problem they are inspired to solve. So his advice was “don’t look for quick exits, don’t look for funding.” He said every Fortune 500 company has Microsoft product powering it and it can help entrepreneurs solve big enough problems. Taking his own example of selling Voodoo to hp, he said he didn’t say yes to Dell when the called for a buy-out. He narrated how he created an aspiration brand out of Voodoo. His message: “build a company with an aspirational brand, culture and soul.” He encouraged entrepreneurs not to be put down by failures and participate in the ecosystem to achieve success. So his final message: “Participate and help nurture your ecosystem.”

He announced that Microsoft has selected two companies to join their fourth batch of accelerator program: Bookpad and Praxify.

[We had earlier mentioned that Microsoft Ventures had invested in these startups, which was a mistake. What we meant was that Microsoft Ventures is investing in terms of acceleration! Inconvenience is regretted]