1. Think about what motivates you as an entrepreneur
Sood frequently asked himself what motivated him as an entrepreneur when he was building VoodooPC as a teenager, and it’s a question that he poses to startups now in his work with Microsoft Ventures. Oh, and money doesn’t count as enough of a motivation.
2. Figure out the one thing you want to nail
Startups need to focus on excelling in a single aspect. Sood recommends interviewing hundreds of customers without pitching your product in order to really tune into the problems they’re experiencing.
3. Get connected to your local startup ecosystem
Since companies should be focusing on the problems where they are, working within the local ecosystem is vital. To that end, Microsoft has built 107 Innovation Centers around the globe in order to provide startups with better resources around them.
4. Build locally, scale globally
While some startups try to jump to a global scale right away, Sood recommends that entrepreneurs start small first. Microsoft then steps in to help companies when they’re ready to go global. In Sood’s view, Microsoft’s biggest strength is its footprint in the enterprise, which allows it to offer startups access to Fortune 500 customers at scale.
5. Be open
Sood encouraged startups to “stop thinking about protecting your stealth company” and practice openness instead. Since many companies grow quickly in just a few years now, it’s advantageous to be open about your product as early as possible instead of building it in secret.