We had the opportunity to speak to Roberto Croci, Managing Director of Microsoft for Startups MEA, on the newly launched Microsoft Reactor at Hub71, a center for technical learning and knowledge-sharing for developers and startup professionals, the first of its kind in the region. The center will be open to all UAE based developers and startups, to develop their knowledge, to learn, and connect with industry leaders on topics like AI, cloud, coding and emerging technologies.

The center works in parallel with Microsoft for Startups, which will connect Hub71 startups to a global portfolio of startups and experts all around the world.

To help us better understand how Microsoft, Hub71’s strategic partner, will help upskill Abu Dhabi based coders; we asked Roberto what he thought of the Abu Dhabi tech scene at Hub71 and how he plans to support startups moving forward, especially during these challenging economic times.

Talk us through Microsoft Reactor at Hub71

Microsoft Reactor is a community through which Microsoft provides free outreach to techies, entrepreneurs, and developers. We are honored to host this in Abu Dhabi at Hub71 because the Ghadan 21 initiative and the vision that Abu Dhabi is setting for itself, is truly powerful and is a recipe for success. Abu Dhabi aims to become an advanced knowledge-based economy and we are pleased to be playing a role in this.

We host free training and workshop sessions for startups — virtually for now — but as soon as we can host events, we’ll do so at Hub71. We have an engaging platform to share knowledge around latest tools and technologies for developers. Globally, Microsoft Reactor has been a great success, and is available in 11 countries.

What sort of content will you deliver to startups?

They are mostly technical workshops where we provide learning sessions on a range of topics around Microsoft services like Microsoft Azure, our cloud platform. We’re also providing free coding workshops, sessions on website creations, effective media content and the use of AI in specific industries. Through Microsoft for Startups we add relevant content and learnings for startup founders and entrepreneurs. Anyone interested in such subject matters can join. Whether you are a coder, developer, entrepreneurs or potential founder, check out our free upcoming virtual events here.

How does Microsoft help Hub71 startups?

At Microsoft our mission is to ‘empower every person and every organization to achieve more’. As we look for a brighter and safer future, we believe big organizations like Microsoft can play an integral role in enabling the ‘minds of today’ to innovate and create the future. Through Microsoft Reactor and in line with Hub71’s mission; we are allowing for the birth of new startups and the scaling of existing ones by providing credits to our cloud services and licenses for Office365, Teams and other Microsoft platforms.

For example, we admitted one of Hub71’s startups, Addenda, a blockchain insurtech company, onto Microsoft for Startups which provided them with the technical support, strategic advice, and free credits necessary to secure their launch phase. They have now signed one of the biggest insurers in the Middle East.

In other cases, we have been able to help international startups who were new to the UAE market to refine and localize their offering; accelerating their ‘go-to’ market strategies.

What do you think makes Hub71 unique to other tech hubs?

Hub71’s role in Abu Dhabi’s digital transformation is critical to the startup ecosystem and we are very pleased to be part of the task force shaping the future of this knowledge-based economy. To us, partnership is key and that is the foundation of a great tech ecosystem.

If you had to name four key skills to great startups, what would they be?

  • Nurture the ability to accept failure and look ahead to a brighter future.
  • Home in on your ability to learn and adapt — as technology is moving at a fast pace.
  • Have the right attitude and mind-set when it comes to developing innovation while keeping a focus on people.
  • Finally, being empathetic and pay more attention to real-world problems, and figure out ways to critically overcome them to benefit society as a whole.