Innovation

Microsoft and Sw7 launch initiative to scale tech businesses in South Africa

Microsoft and Sw7 launched launch a new programme, that aims to boost tech startups by giving them open access to wide-ranging skills development resources, coaches and mentors, a fully-fledged customer network, and the platform on which to build their products and services.

The initiative will help tech startups innovate in the most trusted cloud – Azure – “while strengthening the local startup system and preparing them to sell to global marketplace” shared Ilana Baragwanath, lead for the Head Start program.

Sw7, Start with Seven, the most experienced technology acceleration team in the country, has designed a new approach that enables businesses to grow and scale at the pace their resources allow and this will feed into and support the value offered by these two Microsoft initiatives. Sw7 are the largest technology accelerator in Africa, having worked with over two hundred technology businesses in the last five years and engaged with over one hundred technology CEO’s and Founders that mentor for them.

Odette Jones, Sw7 co-founder says “The Microsoft partnership is an exciting step forward for Sw7. South African technology markets are B2B led, the skills pool the Microsoft partner base offers is unparalleled, this combined with the Azure stack and the access to market provided by Microsoft means they offer huge value to the ecosystem of growing and scaling technology businesses.”

The Sw7 Microsoft Partner Acceleration Programme will kick off with a series of workshops, running over six months supported by continuous digital engagement. The first workshop will be held at the Microsoft offices in Bryanston on the 12th of March. The programme will initially be based in Johannesburg but will look to include other regions digitally, based on demand. The approach is unique in a number of ways
● Acceleration on Demand – Businesses can access the tools, content and approach and are able to consume these in a way and at a pace that suits them
● Always Open – Businesses may join at any time when they have the time and capacity to focus on their cloud business.
● Curated Approach – Businesses are assessed on where they are, what their definitions of success are and are provided with the tools, processes and content to help them move towards their goals.

“Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. And we know that partners make more possible.” says says Rochelle Mountany, Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Partner Lead. “We offer access to markets through our vast ecosystem once a product is market ready as well as ready to scale. Technical guidance and mentoring form part of this approach.”



“By connecting tech startups with a worldwide network of customers, cloud architects, business development experts, and the latest cloud technologies, Microsoft wants to nurture and evolve these startups into fully-fledged Microsoft partners themselves,” says Ilana. “This is why the partnership with Sw7 is an exciting one as it brings another dimension of value to what we are able to bring to start ups.”

The workshops will take businesses through Vision & Strategy, Investor Readiness, Product Market Fit, Business Models & Valuations, Go To Market & Strategy Execution. All the content is collapsed into an approach and set of goals that is unique to each business.

“The Sw7 approach has been based on years of experience in performance management and business intelligence. Acceleration firstly around making better, more informed decisions, what to do next, what to prioritise and why. Secondly, and more importantly it is about execution, as this is the primary advantage that innovators have. Sw7 has been designed for the technology sector with content curated specifically for the African markets” says Keith Jones, Sw7 Co-Founder.

“We are looking for businesses that have achieved Product Market Fit” says Odette Jones “so businesses that have a working product have some paying customers and are looking to grow and scale. We will work with pre-launch businesses that are close to launching but the content, pace and approach has been designed to offer the most value to businesses that are past this stage”

There are no fees for participating in the programme and additional support is available as needed.

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