In the second BizSpark startup competition held in Beijing by Microsoft andEntrepreneur China (Chuangyebang), three teams stood up to the challenge and ranked top three with RMB 80,000 award and ongoing supports from Microsoft including free development tools, Windows Azure cloud service and so on.
BizSpark is aiming at uncovering startups with potential through a product-pitch competition and then helping them grow the business. All the winners are entitled to a bunch of Microsoft’s resources and support, like have access to Windows Azure for free which will save nascent companies a lot of hassles and being granted with free Microsoft softwares such as Visual Studio, Expression Studio, SQL Server, Windows 7 and even Windows 8 which will save them a lot of money. Better yet, BizSpark fellows will have the chance to grab top-notch VC’s attention.
The top three winners, which are HotelVP, QFPay and OpenXLive, all stood out from the fierce competition with their imaginative thinking and the courage to rival the market.
HotelVP was co-founded by three ex-Newegger. They took a like to the converge of mobile Internet and online travel booking for mobile is the next big thing and the business of online travel agency is set to grow at light speed as proven by the maturer markets. So HotelVP’s idea is very simple yet beautiful, it adopted the popular “last minute” model to play a win-win game between supplier (hotels) and consumers. Every day after 6 PM, you can use the app to locate hotel rooms at cheaper prices (sometimes 50% off).
The service now covers 14 cities with more than 800,000 users, it raised RMB 20 million in investment.
QFPay has a stellar team consisting of former execs and employees from Mastercard, IBM, Motorola, Baidu and Tencent, and all three of its co-founders used to work in the payment industry.
There’re between 60 million and 70 million small and medium-sized local merchants in China while only 3 million of them have POS system installed. Working with the banks to have a POS terminal installed could cause a dent in their turnover which isn’t quite fruitful in the first place. So QFPay worked out an app and a card reader that worked together could turn smartphone into a ‘POS’ terminal. Firstly, you need to install and then start the app on a smartphone, then connect the phone to QFPay’s proprietary card reader. Now you’re ready to go. It works exactly like how you charge your credit card with a POS terminal.
They also developed a backend system that those shopkeepers can log in and check out their transactions.
OpenXLive is a Windows Phone 7-centered social platform for mobile games. You can think it as the Windows Phone 7’s Game Center. It’s the first of its kind on Windows Phone platform. For players, you get to see your achievements and how it looks like among your friends, and you can see the leaderboard to get a better idea of your ranking in the game. As for game developers, you can use the service to gain more insights into the demographic and user behaviors of your game, those analysis could be used to improve the next version of the game.
After a year in operation, the service now has north of 360,000 users.