I’ve been really blessed to be a part of one of the first companies to be selected by Microsoft to join the BizSpark program for startups that has been just launched a few days ago. I wrote about it on the corporate blog at Silent Dispatch here and I have said thank you more than once to Dan Willis and Francine Hardaway for their support.
Here is how I see the program being structured; first from the business side beginning with the startup. The startup is just bout any company out there, the criteria is pretty liberal (you can read the criteria at the BizSpark website here) so if you’re a new company, you may want to look at it pretty quickly. Those startups are vetted by a local Network Partner, in our case it was Stealthmode partners. This process allows companies to find out if they are eligible and how it might help them quickly before being forwarded to the next level, the MSFT Champ. When I spoke to the Phoenix Champ yesterday, he was being overwhelmed with companies looking to find our more on the program. he is signing up Network Partners as fast as he can I think. The last part of the program and one I’m still exploring is the Hosting Partner relationship. I’ll share more on this element as i find out more.
Yesterday I spent the better part of the day finishing up the registration process, filling out online forms, connecting the various accesses to my Live ID and reviewing the MSDN access that comes as part of the program and all I can say is ‘Wow’. The resources being provided by this program are amazing. Of course the software is helpful, but not jst to the dev team, as the biz guy at the company, I am especially pleased with the CRM access, the hosting company support and the local Champ we’ve been assigned.
What I see in this push from Microsoft is their interest in connecting their enterprise class development tools to the startup entrepreneur when they’re typically making a dev tool selection. The model of the tech entrepreneur has been to use a low / no cost open source dev tool first and by the time they grew up and came onto the radar of Microsoft, the dev tool / database decision had been already made – often too late for MSFT to be a legitimate consideration; BizSpark changes all of that in a huge way.
Beyond the dev consideration though, I again want to point out that from a business dev perspective, the rest of the MSFT offering is very supportive of the beginning entrepreneur. The Office suite, Project, CRM, Dynamics & Solomon accounting, Expression design studio… the list goes on and on.
I think that this project will carve thousands of dollars out of the monthly burn of the company and for other companies, may mean the difference between if they launch and how fast they can make it to profitability.
My verdict – BizSpark is good for business and it demonstrates how much Microsoft is willing to do to support the startup entrepreneur.