Microsoft launches hotline for startups in India

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microsoftBANGALORE: This may be a first for startups anywhere in the world. Microsoft Ventures in India has launched a hotline for Indian entrepreneurs to get real-time professional advice on their business and technical queries.

A team of four professionals trained by Microsoft will staff the hotline called JumpStart, which will address queries related to accounting and taxation, legal, understanding term sheets and technology. Some queries will be handled by the four-member team, while others will be routed to experts who will offer necessary interventions within 48 hours.

The toll free number — 18002002114 — is open to entrepreneurs during business hours from Monday through Friday and will initially support Hindi and English languages. Microsoft Ventures expects 15-20 calls in the first few days and believes the number could rise to 500-1,000 a month.

Kattayil Rajinish Menon, director of Microsoft Ventures in India, said, “Sometimes answering even simple questions about how to get started or which service provider to contact can really help startups avoid delays and cost overruns. While JumpStart cannot promise the success of a startup’s business, it can definitely help by educating entrepreneurs how to get started quickly by providing information on the vast resources available today.”

Microsoft Ventures is partnering with points-persons at the district level to process queries coming from tier 2 and 3 regions. These could be lawyers, accountants and company secretaries identified in each district. “Our experience has shown that a major pain point for startups, irrespective of their stage of maturity, is the lack of real-time support for various critical queries they face,” said Joseph Landes, general manager, developer & platform evangelism in Microsoft India.

Karnataka’s IT secretary Srivatsa Krishna said the hotline would also be available shortly through the state’s new mobile governance system MobileOne Platform. The mobile governance platform will include unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), wireless application protocol ((WAP) and interactive voice response (IVR). Ravi Gururaj, chairman of the Nasscom Product Council, said JumpStart was an excellent initiative to get some support and start off quickly and efficiently.