Announcing BizSpark for early stage startups

Over the years, we have built a good sturdy BizSparkplatform with .NET. .NET is a  scalable, secure, and reliable  platform that supports good application performance. With the advent of "Web 2.0" and the surge of new and emerging companies betting their business on the web, we want early stage companies to be able to use the .NET for implementing their ideas. Typically startups have been concerned about costs of new tools and products. Today, we are announcing the availability of a new program for early stage startups called "BizSpark". BizSpark offers early stage companies Microsoft products at no up-front cost.

What is a startup to Microsoft? Do I qualify?

We have four pre-requisites for a startup to join BizSpark. To join BizSpark, a startup company

  1. must be building a software based product,
  2. should have been in existence for less than 3 years,
  3. makes less than USD 1 million (local flavors apply for other countries), and,
  4. is privately held.

BizSpark is meant for companies building web applications, or delivering web based services. A startup can be a part of the program for three years (they will have to renew their membership annually), unless they get disqualified because they have gone public (or have been acquired by a company that does not qualify for BizSpark) or if their revenue is greater than USD 1 million.

What kind of software is BizSpark offering?

We are offering development tools as well as production licenses of our server products.

For development, testing and demonstration, startups can download the software included in the Visual Studio Team System Team Suite (VSTS) with MSDN Premium, plus VSTS Team Foundation Server (Standard Edition).

For production use (that is, to deploy and host an application over the internet), startups can download and use Windows Server, SQL Server, BizTalk Server, and Office SharePoint Server for Internet Sites hosting, as well as Systems Center for managing hosting server operations.

(please refer to the BizSpark Startup Program Guide for full details)

"No up-front cost" - do I pay when I leave the program?

Yes, we will assess a $100 fee when a startup exits the program.

What happens after three years of participation in BizSpark?

After three years in BizSpark, a startup will exit the program. A startup can continue to use the development tools they would have obtained through the program even after the three years of being a part of the program. If a startup wishes to continue receiving updates to development tools however, it has to renew it's MSDN subscription at usual rates and terms.

To continue using the production licenses, a startup may choose to take advantage of a licensing program like Microsoft’s Services Provider License Agreement program (or other Microsoft licensing programs that may be available at the time) but is in no way obligated to do so.

How do I join BizSpark?

As we launch this program, we have been partnering with select organizations to help us build out a startup ecosystem. This ecosystem will comprise of Network Partners (academic institutions, entrepreneurial organizations, business accelerators or business incubators and investors etc.) who will help startups enroll in to the BizSpark program. Find a Network Partner near you.

How does this help me, a startup?

  • Software - via the program
  • Support - via MSDN (two support incidents per startup) and the resources that the Network Partner has to offer for startups
  • Visibility - via BizSparkDB. Startups can profile themselves on BizSparkDB.

Is Azure going to be a part of the BizSpark offering?

Windows Azure, announced at PDC last week, is a natural platform choice for early stage companies. As I'd mentioned in my post last week,

While Azure is appealing to everyone from large enterprises to hobbyists, it is going to be particularly interesting to startups and Web 2.0 companies as well who want to take advantage of a rich, highly versatile web-based platform to build scalable applications for the web.

BizSpark program startups will receive preferential access to the Azure Community Technology Preview. To sign up for the CTP, BizSpark participants should enroll on the Azure site and profile with the same Windows Live ID they used to enroll in BizSpark. During the CTP, access will be assessed and assigned on a company-by-company basis and will be confirmed as capacity becomes available.

What startups are using .NET today?

We have several startups that have been recruited in to the Startup Accelerator Program. Here is a list of just some of the startups we have been working with.

Why the name, BizSpark?

Last year, we launched this program called DreamSpark for students. BizSpark just seemed to be a logical extension to that name for businesses or startups.

Where can I get more information?

We will also be visiting several cities in the US as a part of our "Ignition" event series, and partnering with local community organizations to talk about BizSpark:

  • Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, CA 11/5-11/7
  • Flashpoint Innovation Awards in Chicago, IL on 11/6
  • New York New Tech Meetup in New York, NY on 11/11
  • AZ Entrepreneurship Conference in Phoenix, AZ on 11/19
  • Startup District Austin, TX on 11/20 (link TBD)
  • Los Angeles, CA on 12/2 (link TBD)
  • Silicon Valley on 12/4 (link TBD)