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Case Study: Plum

As written on news.microsoft.com
Based in Austin, Texas, Plum makes a Wi-Fi-enabled light switch and dimmer that “completely reinvented the light switch,” says CEO Utz Baldwin of the company’s Lightpad product. Users can control and customize their home lighting from their phone and Lightpad’s touch-based switch plate. They can also see their energy use in real time.
A graduate of Techstars and Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Seattle, Plum has raised nearly $5 million in three years. Customers have pre-ordered more than 10,000 Lightpads, which Plum began shipping in November.
Baldwin says Microsoft Ventures Accelerator helped him meet investors, test hardware and give brand legitimacy to Plum. That helped Plum raise money on crowdfunding platforms like Fundable and CircleUp, positioning the startup for a Series A round.
“When investors see that Microsoft supported you, and still supports you through BizSpark, it provides them with another checkbox that has been satisfied,” Baldwin says. He encourages other entrepreneurs to explore Microsoft for support.
“Programs like what Microsoft has built through BizSpark and Microsoft Ventures Accelerators around the globe are a surefire way to get the help you need,” he says.



Reinventing the world from keys to light switches, startups grow their businesses on Microsoft technology

By Vanessa Ho as written on news.microsoft.com
In the span of five years, UniKey has grown from a tiny startup to a pioneer in the smart lock industry. Its founder and president, Phil Dumas, has gone from a budding Florida entrepreneur who appeared on “Shark Tank” to the head of a company that’s raised $14.3 million.
UniKey now powers a leading smart lock on the market with partner Kwikset, the largest residential lock manufacturer in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world.
“We basically set out to replace your entire keychain with your phone,” says Dumas. “As long as you have your phone on you or in your pocket or purse, all you have to do is walk up and touch the door and it magically unlocks.” In other words, no fumbling for your keys — or your phone to open an app.
UniKey is one of many successful startups around the world to grow and raise funding with the help of Microsoft programs and tools. Microsoft BizSpark gives thousands of dollars in free Azure cloud services to startups, and Microsoft Ventures operates accelerators in seven cities worldwide that give startups guidance and mentoring to pitch investors.

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Microsoft helps startups grow in all stages of funding, whether they’re bootstrapping, crowdfunding, talking to angels or going through their first Series A. With free access to Azure, startups have a secure, reliable, open-source-friendly platform to deploy apps, store data and create virtual machines as they develop their solutions.
And go-to-market support and networking with Microsoft customers help startups grow around the world and navigate a funding landscape that’s changed over the years. Gone are the days when startups went directly from friends and family to venture capitalists. These days, startups have access to many more funding types, with accelerators, crowdfunding platforms, angel investors and angel groups.
“There’s no better external validation than seeing our startups raise significant funding,” says Scott Coleman, general manager of Microsoft Ventures. “It tells us we are finding and mentoring great startups and that our support is having a positive impact. Their success is our success.”


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