Microsoft Greenshoots – Bigger and better than ever!
Today, the start-up scene is abuzz with many opportunities and this is a stark contrast to over ten years ago when I was kicking-off my fledgling start-up.
When I started at Microsoft, I was thrilled to be in developer relations and to have the opportunity to work with independent developers.
I inherited a programme called Microsoft Greenshoots, an incubator programme that was created in partnership with Creative England to help UK developers to build their business and gain access to regional growth funds.
Greenshoots has run two cohorts so far, and with each one the standard of applicants has increased. The programme has expanded with each cohort too; from partnering with Microsoft’s ID@Xbox programme to working with investors and publishers. In fact, the last cohort saw an additional £100,000 from external investments in addition to the £250,000 the program has to offer.
Greenshoots was originally only offered to developers in England but earlier this year, alongside the Welsh government, Microsoft Greenshoots was announced in Wales.
The ultimate goal is to be able to offer this opportunity to every game developer in the UK and we are constantly looking to partner with agencies, both private and public, to work with the Greenshoots programme in their regions.
This year, Greenshoots, in partnership with Creative England, have secured more investment (£500,000 with up to £50,000 per studio) and are preparing to welcome a third cohort of studios. Any studio looking at getting involved can find out more information at: http://www.creativeengland.co.uk/games/greenshoots.
The support available depends entirely on the needs of those seeking investment. Looking at three recent studios from our programme; firstly, Pixel Squad, found access to Microsoft Azure, the cloud computing platform, most valuable as the team built its social multiplayer game Crime Coast. While Total Monkery was keen for financial aid, mentoring and access to a creative skillset programme that helped them find new talent. Lastly, Mad Fellows grew so much from the first cohort that the team signed up for the second and were given the opportunity to not only speak at industry events, thus raising awareness of their work, but also to pitch to investors and publishers that work with Microsoft.
These same opportunities will be available via the third cohort and in addition investment will be available to established studios, looking to retain their IP, as well as new game studios.
For those seeking a place on the programme it is advisable to have a well-thought-out business plan. This should include a financial model, revenue stream and ensure you have your gameplay sorted. Having all this in place before the pitch will help greatly.
It is worth noting that Microsoft Greenshoots also brings along invaluable access to a platform vendor’s resources as well as access to; free tools, technical assistance, mentoring opportunities, investor network and most importantly, the marketing exposure platform vendors can afford. The package from the platform vendor covers a significant portion of the developer’s projected costs and affords the developer the luxury to focus on what they love doing the most – developing!
This article was written by Trisha Rana, who manages Game Dev Relations at Microsoft and comes from a background of Product Management and Digital Marketing. She is not new to small businesses having started a business of her own and working for a VC firm in the North West. Hailing from Boston, she moved to the UK to get her MBA from University of Manchester. As an ex-Googler and a product manager at eBay, she has been at the forefront of branding and marketing new technologies and products.