Salesforce Hopes To Lure Developers With €5m Start-Up Challenge

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Salesforce courts developers and start-ups with venture capital help

In a bid to get more people interested in its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings, Salesforce today launched a €5 million (£4.2 million) Innovation Challenge.

Salesforce wants to see start-ups come up with exciting cloud applications built on its Salesforce Platform, which includes the full array of its PaaS products. They include Force.com, Heroku and the recently-launched Touch Platform.

There is €5 million on the table from venture capital firms, including Notion Capital, Octopus Investments and MMC Ventures. Start-ups will be invited to bid for funding between September and November this year, with events taking place across European capitals, including London, Berlin and Paris.

Salesforce start-up boost

OpenWorld protest salesforceWinners will not just get money, they will get a place on Salesforce’s AppExchange, which the cloud leader is attempting to promote. Salesforce still makes most of its money from its core CRM products: the Sales Cloud and the Service Cloud.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said Salesforce had presented London entrepreneurs with a good opportunity to strut their stuff.

“London is brimming with tech talent which is breeding a wave of innovative start-ups with the potential to grow fast,” Johnson said.

“Salesforce.com’s Innovation Challenge presents a fantastic opportunity for London’s silicon entrepreneurs to take their business to the next level of success.”

According to Luke Hakes, from Octopus Investments, 500 applicants are expected – and out of those his firm is expecting to invest in four companies.

The start-up community around London, known as Tech City, has bemoaned the lack of VC funding, although Hakes told TechWeekEurope the scene was “really vibrant”. And if Octopus discovers a gem during the Innovation Challenge process, it will happily put down more money than the €5m on offer.

“There are a lot of detractors, saying [Tech City] is a forced thing, you can’t force Silicon Valley out of nowhere… but we are seeing huge momentum.

Octopus is particularly interested in finance-based technology, known as fintech, as well as disruptive ecommerce tech.

As for Salesforce, it is hoping to boost its AppExchange, which it is hoping to build into the App Store of the enterprise world. It currently has 2000 applications sitting on it, and the cloud company is hoping to boost numbers with such competitions.

Steve Garnett, chairman for Salesforce in Europe, told TechWeek “people forget we are still a young company”, pointing to the 380,000 apps on Force.com, which customers have built for their own use.

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