I recently met Martin Schray, a senior technical evangelist at Microsoft. He introduced me to an interesting program that Microsoft offers startups, called BizSpark. I thought it would be useful to share it with all of you, in case it could be beneficial to your businesses.
Microsoft's BizSpark program targets startups building software, software as a service or online services as their primary product or service offering. BizSpark provides free software, support and visibility to help startups succeed, and they power a community of over 100,000 startups in over 100 countries. They also aggregate special offers for startups from a network of third party partners.
What do you get as a startup joining BizSpark?
1. You get developer and production licenses for over 900 Microsoft products like Visual Studio, SQL Server, Windows Server, Windows 8.1, Microsoft Office, etc. (this is the equivalent of MSDN Ultimate).
2. You get $150 of monthly access to Microsoft’s cloud called Microsoft Azure (expandable to $60K for one year if your startup is approved for BizSpark Plus).
3. You get support incidents for those hard to solve challenges and premier forum support to get your questions answered.
4. And, a really unique aspect here, BizSpark will also help startups gain market traction by offering the opportunity to be selected to promote your offerings on the BizSpark website, through the Featured BizSpark Startup series and other promotional opportunities.
What are the criterion for getting accepted into the BizSpark program?
- Less than five years in business
- Less than $1 million in revenue
- Privately held
- Building software, software as a service or online services
BizSpark is a three-year program, after which time you graduate. Companies that graduate retain perpetual licenses to all the software used while in the BizSpark program and significant discounts on support and new software they may need.
Some immediate questions:
- What’s in it for Microsoft? They hope you will build on their platform and tools and hopefully run on their cloud. Note that Azure supports Linux, PHP, Python, Java, Node.js and others.
- What if I do not build with Microsoft technologies? Azure supports Linux, PHP, Java, Python, Node.js, and more so run what you want.
- What if you exceed $150 a month? Microsoft has a program called BizSpark Plus where your startup can be nominated for up to $60K of Azure benefits for a single year.
- You can host your website
- Run a Linux or Windows virtual machine 24/7 (perhaps hosting services for your startup)
- Store, query and update data from a SQL Server database
- Store, query and update data from a cloud database backend for your iOS, Android or Windows/Windows Phone apps
- Use Azure’s Active Directory Services for authentication
If interested in learning more about BizSpark, and are in the Chicago area, free free to reach out to Martin at mdwade @ microsoft.com. Or, for other regions, you can contact BizSpark or get more information through their website at http://www.microsoft.com/BizSpark.