Kicking off 2016 strong, Microsoft has recruited two new entrepreneurs to lead their startup initiatives in France, which is coordinated through their Paris-based 300m² accelerator space. Pascal Fite joins Microsoft as their acceleration program’s Entrepreneur in Residence, having spent time as an investor at Sigma Gestion, leading investments in LeKiosk, Qobuz & others, after working in the TelCo industry. In addition, leading Microsoft’s startup initiatives will be Diana Filippova, a rising figure in Paris’ startup scene, having led the collaborative consumption association OuiShare co-organizing their annual OuiShare Fest, which brings together the leading sharing economy companies.
Speaking with Filippova for the past month, it’s clear that she has big plans for Microsoft Ventures here in Paris, both building off of what has been built over the past few years since MV opened its Paris space, as well as carving out a new place for Microsoft in Paris. While Filippova has spent the past few years in the sharing economy, don’t expect Microsoft to shift focus – Filippova sees the company as having a great opportunity to support the increasing number of startups coming out of France, notably through their zero-equity acceleration program, which provides three months of support and organizes a demo day, the last of which saw several startups raising funds before & following the demo day.
Microsoft has historically been very active in France’s startup scene – the worldwide BizSpark program, with which Microsoft supports startups through software & hosting offerings, was originally started out of France, though the era of tech companies winning favor with free services seems to have seen its best days. Nonetheless, with 7 hubs around the world, including London, Seattle & Tel Aviv, Microsoft has an opportunity to usher in a new era of startup support in France, support that is global, without expectation, and that measures its own success with the same metrics that startups use to measure their own.
I’m looking forward to speaking more with Diana Filippova about her plans later this month at the #ParisFounders Winter Meetup, where we’ll be kicking off 2016 by showing off 5 new products & interviewing CEOs, Investors & Founders on stage.