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Salesforce Launches $100 Million Fund to Invest in Entrepreneurs Building Apps On Its Platform Startups get cash and credibility. The San Francisco-based tech company gets a stake in the companies building on its infrastructure.

By Catherine Clifford

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Salesforce has unveiled a $100 million investment fund, Salesforce1, that it is distributing for entrepreneurs innovating on its own cloud-based platform fund.

The San Francisco-based tech company is seeking entrepreneurs to build software on its on top of its own Salesforce1 application-building platform in hopes of expanding out its cloud ecosystem. The entrepreneurs, meanwhile, get cash, connections and a name-brand platform to build on.

"Salesforce Ventures gives us more than just funding—we've got an inside track to the Salesforce ecosystem," said Keith Krach, CEO of DocuSign, in a statement announcing the launch of the fund. DocuSign, an app that allows Salesforce.com customers to sign for documents electronically, is one of the first four companies to receive funding from the Salesforce1 Fund.

Related: 10 Things to Do So Apple Doesn't Reject Your App

In addition to giving entrepreneurs a technological leg up, it also gives startups priceless and precious levels of credibility. "An investment from Salesforce Ventures is much more than money, it's about a partnership first and foremost," said Scot Chisholm, CEO and co-founder of StayClassy, an online-fundraising software for nonprofits that was another one of the first four startups to receive an investment from the $100 million fund. "It's pretty incredible to have Salesforce Ventures believe in what we're doing and stand by us as a partner and investor, as we advance philanthropy with the next generation of online fundraising."

The other two startups to be part of the first class of the Salesforce1 Fund are i.am+, a fashion-technology company, and Skuid, a service that allows customers to build applications without knowing how to write computer code.

Related: 4 Startup Founders Under 30 to Keep an Eye On

Salesforce is describing this next generation of entrepreneurs as working in the "Internet of Customers" space. The catch phrase refers to the idea that as people and objects are increasingly connected to the Internet, so too are a customers. That idea is at the heart of what Salesforce.com does as a company: It focuses on the software that connects a customer with a business.

Investing in startups is not new territory for Salesforce. In the past five years, Salesforce.com has invested in more than 100 startups working in the business cloud-based software space. This is just the first time there has been a formal venture fund tied to the company.

Related: 8 Ways to Influence Users to Download Your Mobile App

Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

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