Some great news for the startup and entrepreneurial community - we've formally launched a new program, called BizSpark, designed to offer tools, mentorship, and support to early stage startups, with no upfront costs to enroll.
Think DreamSpark (tools and platform software for students) but for startups, and you won't be far off.
There are plenty of details on the Microsoft Startup Zone site, but in summary, the program connects startups with Network Partners, organizations in the software community who can provide assistance and guidance to the startups. Microsoft provides the BizSpark startups with:
Software - Lots of it, along with production licenses. From the Startup Zone site:
All the software included in the Microsoft® Visual Studio® Team System Team Suite (VSTS) with MSDN® Premium subscription Expression® Studio Version 2 VSTS Team Foundation Server (standard edition) Production use rights to host a “software as a service” solution (developed during participation in the BizSpark Program, on any platform) over the Internet, with regard to products including:
- Microsoft Windows Server® (all versions up to and including Enterprise)
- Microsoft SQL Server® (all versions)
- Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server
- Microsoft System Center
- Microsoft BizTalk® Server
- Microsoft Dynamics® CRM (coming soon)
In addition to the core program offering, BizSpark startups will be eligible for other Microsoft offerings, such as:
- Microsoft Azure™ Services Platform
Support - Software support from MSDN (groups, incidents, concierge, etc.), BizSpark program support, and guidance through Network Partners (incubators, investors, advisors, agencies, hosters, etc.
Visibility - Through the program and the BizSpark DB, increased exposure to the potential investors, partners, and customers.
What Does it Cost?
From the BizSpark FAQ:
As part of Microsoft’s commitment to Startup success, there is no upfront cost to enroll in the program. Startups will be responsible for a USD$100 program offering fee when they exit the program
How are startups eligible? [excepted from source]:
Your startup must be:
- Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business
- Privately held
- In business for less than 3 years
- Generating less than USD $1 million in annual revenue
To be eligible to use the software for production and deployment of hosted solutions, startups must also be developing a new "software as a service" solution (on any platform) to be delivered over the Internet.
BTW, if you're an ISV, but don't qualify for BizSpark, take a look at Empower for ISVs, which may be another way to get additional support from Microsoft.
I'm excited that we're offering this program! If you're a startup, read through the program details on the Microsoft Startup Zone, then find a Network Partner, who can help connect you with the BizSpark program.
If you're in the Northeast, and think your organization could be potential Network Partner, drop me a line and I'll be glad to chat with you.