Top 50 Women in Technology
intersection of technology and economic growth, BizSpark is an international network of entrepreneurial startups and partners. Lee’s team partners closely with accelerators, co-working spaces and entrepreneurship groups, with Government and Academia, coinvesting in programs for the next generation of tech entrepreneurs. Prior to her move to Silicon Valley (Startups HQ) in February 2011, Lee was based in the UK, leading efforts to partner with organizations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. After eight years with the company, Lee describes herself as a “partner beast”. Lee enjoys her current role, as she loves finding ways to collaborate with organizations that are also passionate about supporting startups. Her role at Microsoft centres primarily around three key aspects, she explains; firstly, identifying and engaging leading organizations globally that support entrepreneurs – such as accelerators, and finding ways to work together.
Creating Partnerships “Then we carve out a partnership that allows our field teams leverage partnerships locally, from Silicon Valley, across the US and in key cities internationally. We usually put together a cookbook or ‘playbook’,” she says. Partnerships comprise leading incubators, accelerators, Government agencies, universities and more. Examples include TechStars, Startup Weekend, Startup America and Founder Institute. Lee has also served as a judge for startup events including DEMO and Web Summit, and as a mentor with groups such as Seedcamp. “We also attract organizations to become Network Partners, allowing them offer [software and services] benefits from Microsoft to their startups, via the BizSpark program. We work very closely with colleagues in the business groups (e.g. Windows, Windows Phone and Bing Fund). Then, we do a lot of events and communications. For instance, I spend a good deal of my time as an ambassador for Microsoft at leading industry events, and showcasing the startups that we are assisting in various ways, helping them gain an advantage,” she adds. Watching a team of startup founders
doing well is one the highlights of her role, Lee says. “Many startups go through one of our accelerator partners, join BizSpark and engage with of our guys [in DPE] at Microsoft. Every day we hear stories about founders building solutions that may leverage our services; we know it is a struggle. Many of them just say
‘thanks for mentoring’. It’s good to have even a very small part to play in their success. Multiply that by 100 countries and say 20 partnerships, and you can see why it’s rewarding.” BizSpark is now a ‘benchmark’ for some corporates and many have tried to emulate the offering, she says. “That speaks volumes Silicon Valley Global | 79
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