Microsoft held an event – titled "The Pitch" – at Milbank Tower, London last Wednesday to showcase some of the talent passing through its Ventures program, and to announce a series of collaborations with incubators, accelerators and other companies. If you're not familiar with Microsoft Ventures, it's a pool of funding, accompanied by a variety of services and other helpful assets on offer for technology startups.
It's a special program with Microsoft partnering up with Level39, as well as ASOS to help those who would not otherwise be eligible for support in other accelerators. To aid in learning more about the program and what's on offer, Microsoft also invited media, investors and more to witness a presentation from a handful of startups.
The twelve startups – who pitched their concepts to not only a panel but a packed house – included the following:
- Barpass - A mobile ordering platform for events and supported locations, enabling consumers to place orders via a smartphone and to easily pick up said products without queueing up.
- Buying Butler - This handy service allows consumers to compare prices on complex purchases (cars, etc.) to receive recommendations and help purchasers save time and suppliers money.
- Caribu - While not technically Windows or Windows Phone related, Caribu is an interesting app for iPad to allow children and family members communicate via video call, reading books together.
- Cognisess - This startup aims to change the way folk are hired by utilizing objective performance-based games, providing HR departments more accurate candidate screening than what's currently available.
- Dataloop.io - Monitoring cloud services can prove to be a tricky task, but one Dataloop.io is attempting to solve. It's a cloud monitoring service aimed at helping companies and teams running online services manage resources more effectively.
- Skara - Attempting to define a new video game genre, Skara is both a multiplayer and versus game (MVO), based on adversarial control and combat set in large-scale arenas, perfect for those who enjoying knocking the proverbial out of one another.
- UXCam - Beta testing is one thing, but to actually view the response of users is another. UXCam enables UX designers to capture, analyze and visualize data to detect usability bugs in apps.
There were a few things that caught our eye however, including an upcoming game.
Racing the beats
Gateway Interactive also presented an upcoming game - Spectra. The game is worth noting as it's coming to both Windows Phone and the Xbox One. Featuring 10 unique music tracks which are used to generate procedural levels (uniquely generated), the title will be making full use of cloud technologies with cross play support between Xbox and Windows Phone. Perfect for those who enjoy the mobile experience as well as full HD.
Players are tasked with racing against the beat on the procedurally generated track, avoiding obstacles and collecting points whist attempting to remain on the course. If you thought that was difficult enough, the tempo and speed of the game increases as the player progresses further, just in case one requires their advanced gaming skills to be tested to the max.
We'll keep an eye out for when Spectra lands on the Windows Phone and Xbox One stores. It's a must-have if you enjoy the likes of Song Arc.
Creating the networks
There was a lot of technology to digest with some unique ideas presented in the pitching sessions. We thoroughly enjoyed the insight into what Microsoft is attempting to achieve through funding and supporting startups, and while there wasn't a lot of Windows Phone at the event, we're sure this is set to change as time progresses and the company looks at new ways to offer incentives to startups for them to also support its own platforms.
Other than the pitches presented on-stage, the event was geared more towards networks being formed. A solid hosting by Microsoft, nonetheless. Be on the lookout for more news from these startups and others that Microsoft pulls to its ecosystem. If you're interested in applying for the Ventures program, Microsoft is now accepting applications for the next accelerator, which kicks off in September.
Oh, look. It's a cute Lumia 1020 cupcake. Don't mind if I do.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.