# Friday, 23 May 2014

Starting a software company involves a lot of risk, including (but not limited to) financial risk, technology risk, market risk, and timing risk. Microsoft is actively trying to remove at least some of the risk for startup companies who are developing a software product or service. Because the first few years of a company tend to have the highest risk, Microsoft is offering the BizSpark program to mitigate that extra risk until a company stabilizes. The BizSpark program is designed to provide free software, free cloud computing hour, and free access to technical resources to qualified startups.

Specific benefits of the BizSpark program are:

  1. Free Microsoft software, including Windows, Visual Studio, SQL Server, Office, and many more. BizSpark members can download many thousands of dollars worth of software for free for 3 years
  2. $150 a month of Microsoft Azure cloud computing hours. If you are not familiar with Azure, check out http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/ to see all the services that are available. There are too many Azure services to describe here, but startups often find Web Sites, Virtual Machines, and Azure Mobile Services useful in promoting or integrating with their products. If your demand increases, beyond this, there is even a chance to increase this to $5000 per month for one year.
  3. Free access to technical resources, such as Microsoft Technical Evangelists. Your local evangelist likely has regular office hours and can help you troubleshoot some of your technical issues.

There is absolutely no obligation or cost to joining the BizSpark program. At the end of the 3 years, you keep the software you have installed. There is no fee for the program and obligation to buy more software or Azure hours (although, we certainly hope that you do.)

To qualify, the company must meet the following criteria

  1. The company must be engaged in building a software product or service
  2. The company must be privately held
  3. The company must be less than 5 years old
  4. Annual revenues must not exceed $1 million.

More details about the BizSpark program are available at http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/.

In the past, a startup was required to apply to the BizSpark program and wait for a response from Microsoft (sometimes for over a week). Now, however, I can provide a code to eligible startups that registers them in the BizSpark program immediately.

If you meet the above criteria and you would like to take advantage of the program, reach out to to your local Technical Evangelist (If you are in Wisconsin, Illinois, or Indiana, that is me) and describe your startup’s product.