Dell is creating a $100 million fund to help startups get their companies up and running andhopefullyto create relationships that will make some of them long-term Dell customers.
The Dell Innovators Credit Fund isnt to invest in companies, according to Steve Felice, president and chief commercial officer at Dell. Most of these startups already have venture capital backing or angel investors funding the development of their products. A significant hurdle theyre facing is the difficult and time-consuming process of getting financing from banks for such needs as IT equipment.
In this economy, were really trying to address a [problem] that these companies are still havingtrouble getting credit, Felice told eWEEK.
The goal is to get these startups the fast access to capital they need for technology solutions, he said. Via the fund, these companies and their backers can get up to 10 percent of their funded amountor up to $150,000wth accelerated and limited credit terms. Those companies needing more financing can get that with a few extra steps, according to Dell officials.
In addition, those companies selected for the Dell Innovators Credit Fund also get the assistance of a dedicated Dell sales team and ProSupport services, giving them access to trained experts and around-the-clock support for their technology needs.
More information about the fund can be found at Dells Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Website. Startups can start applying for funding now.
Dells financing efforts are a reflection of how important the small and midsize business (SMB) market is to both Dell and the U.S. economy in general, Felice said. In announcing the fund, Dell officials pointed to a paper put out by the Technology CEO Council (TCC) that says the highest-growth startups create an outsized share of new jobs in the country, with 40 percent of new jobs coming from the top-performing 1 percent of companies each year. The TCC cited a McKinsey Global Institute report noting that Internet-savvy SMBs in a number of industries create more jobs than less technologically knowledgeable businesses.
For Dell, which is undergoing a transformation from simply a PC and server maker to an IT solutions provider, the SMB market is increasingly important, accounting for almost a quarter of the companys business, according to Felice. In the first three months of the year, while revenue for Dells large enterprise business dropped 3 percent over the same period in 2011 and revenue for its public business fell 4 percent, SMB revenue increased 4 percent, to $3.5 billion.
Its a very important segment to us ¦ and growing on a global scale, he said.
Dells success with SMBs comes in part from what Felice said is a bond created by the companys story arc of growing over the past couple of decades from a business run out of founder and CEO Michael Dells dorm room to a multibillion, multinational company. In addition, Dell has a more open technology platform built atop the x86 products from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. Dell's competitors, like Hewlett-Packard and IBM, also have their Unix businesses and, in the case of IBM, a mainframe unit.
I think were seen as more of a pure-play, he said.
Dell is hoping that through the funding program, some of the successful startups will become long-term customers, Felice said. In addition, there might be some whose products mesh with Dells plans, which could make them attractive acquisitions. However, the primary goal is to get these companies funding, Felice said.
The aim is to help Web-knowledgeable startups, whatever industry they might be in.
At the same time, Dell also is expanding its EIR program that will feature information, case studies and advice for entrepreneurs, as well as details about Dell initiatives and products.