We had been working on Beagle for a year when we first heard of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Seattle (MVAS). Beta was on track for March and we were signing up initial users.
Microsoft had opened space in the partner wing at Communitech and Alec Saunders was meeting with local companies evangelizing and seeing what was going on in the tech community. We demo’ed Beagle to him and he got it right away, having been through enough contracts. It was great timing. We worked hard, had a good plan and were ready to put the pedal to the metal.
The interview process was fast and soon we were in Seattle for Jury day. The best of the 550 applicants who applied to MSVA were invited to jury day to pitch.
How did we become the first ever-Canadian company accepted into MSVA?
- Networked like crazy—we showed Beagle to anyone and everyone
- Joined local incubator Communitech
- Honed our story
- Pitched whenever we could--- even if it wasn’t a fit, the practice is always good
- Researched different accelerators to understand the pro’s and con’s of each
- Talked to mentors and Microsoft evangelists beforehand
- Madly researched pitches and made sure we were ready to commit
- Raised cash as fast as we could
- As a team did a comprehensive SWOT of the accelerator, making sure it was a good fit for us
- Took the plunge and moved to Seattle
We worked hard to get where we are and being accepted as the first Canadian company in MVAS was validation of our efforts.
The accelerator has impressive stats behind it, making it even more appealing. Only 2% of applicants who apply get in and over 80% go on to raise funding within the next 6 months, an average of $2.8M. Not to mention the $500K in azure credits and $25K cash (non equity) received by each of company in the program. With stakes that looked this good, the whole team could get behind the move to Seattle. The Emerald City is a thriving tech scene and having Microsoft as a partner opens doors only possible with this opportunity.
So far, the accelerator has provided immense focus on our go to market strategy and expert mentors who have experience in selling to small businesses. For the first time the whole team is together, working under 1 time zone (it used to be 4 time zones) and both business and development sides are united under 1 goal.
It’s a 17-week intensive business accelerator ending with a demo day in the middle of July. Every week has a new theme with group workshops, 1:1’s, access to industry experts and Microsoft resources. No stone is left unturned, all areas of the business are looked at and strategies and assumptions are constantly tested. Demo’s are given on the fly to visitors stopping by to see what’s going on in the accelerator.
With just a few weeks left until demo day and were focusing on fine tuning the product, our pitch and continuing to add beta users. Our goal coming into the accelerator was to fine tune our product market fit, improve UX/UI and bring the product to market and are well on our way to accomplishing these.