Microsoft BizSpark

It’s an exciting time here at Microsoft. Last week we announced Microsoft BizSpark!

Microsoft BizSpark is a global program designed to accelerate the success of early stage Startups. Microsoft has realized that most startups have more time than money. This means that in an attempt to save some cash up front, many will pursue free technology paths rather than spending the money on a more complete solution. The issue is that even though they have more money than time, if they don’t get to revenue quickly, they will fail. To help out here, Microsoft has taken cost off the table as an issue for the startups adopting any of the Microsoft technologies in their products and offerings.

I’ll get to the details of the software offering in a moment. But first I want to point out that this is not just cheap software. There are three key areas that Microsoft has identified where it can help startups. Startups need, in addition to the technology, support and marketing. This is accomplished in a couple of different ways. BizSpark Startups receive professional support from Microsoft as well as community-driven support from Network Partners, active organizations in the entrepreneurial space, who can provide guidance, mentorship and resources to Startups.

By virtue of their participation in BizSpark, Startups can also gain visibility with potential investors, partners and customers.

BizSpark provides software, support and visibility to high-potential Startups:


  • All the software included in the Visual Studio Team System Team Suite (VSTS) with MSDN Premium subscription Expression Studio (Version 2), plus VSTS Team Foundation Server Standard Edition – for the entire development team
  • Production license use rights, to deploy, host and support Startup’s “software as a service” applications for delivery over the Internet, using the following products: Windows Server (all versions), SQL Server (all versions), BizTalk Server, and Office SharePoint Server for hosting; and Systems Center for managing hosting server operations.


  • Guidance, resources and mentoring provided by Network Partners, active members of the global software ecosystem who are qualified to provide support and advice to Startups
  • Access to MSDN Premium: managed newsgroups, online library, online concierge, etc.
  • Two technical support Incidents per Startup


  • Each BizSpark Startup will have the opportunity to profile their company in the BizSparkDB, an online Startup directory, hosted on the Microsoft Startup Zone web site. Startups will get exposure to potential investors, partners and customers around the world.
  • Opportunity to be highlighted on the BizSparkDB as a featured company and be promoted as BizSpark Company of the Week on the Microsoft Startup Zone website.

Costs – on exit of the program (read three years after you sign up), the participants will be invoiced a $100.00 fee. This means that there are no up front costs for the startups.

Who’s Eligible?

An eligible Startup must have the following characteristics at the time of joining:

  • Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business. This means that the startup must be producing software or services as the means to them getting paid. Either selling or leasing the software and/or service.
  • Privately held.
  • In business for less than 3 years.
  • Less than US $1 million in annual revenue. This varies slightly by country but here in the US it’s $1 Million.

To be eligible for Production License rights, Startups must also be developing a “software as a service” solution (on any platform) to be delivered over the Internet.


Does Quality:

  • An Independent Software Vendor (ISV) that is producing software for sale.
  • Producing a service such as a claims processing services that you lease to other companies so that they can outsources their claims management.
  • A combination application that sits on the clients machine and calls services that you have produced with any form of monitization be it leasing or for sale to third parties.

Does Not Qualify:

  • If you are developing an internal claims processing system solely for your own company.
  • Developing a web site for your company as your marketing presence.
  • Are a pure consulting agency with no products.

To break it down, if you are getting paid through the software and/or service that you are producing then you probably quality.

If you think you are qualified and are interested in signing up – Anand Iyer has a great walk-through that explains how to sign up at

Network Partners

Our Network Partners consist of University Incubators, Government Agencies, Entrepreneur Organizations (incubators, business angels,…) and Investors themselves depending on the volume of startups that they deal with. These Network Partners are able to offer a lot of services to the startups than Microsoft ever could because they are in the trenches and offer a lot of different services.

Depending on the network partner, some of the services could include office space, access to funding sources, introductions to potential clients, legal advice, business plan mentoring and tons of other support.

If you are interested in joining BizSpark, you can do so easily by contacting one of our network partners. Or you can contact me and I’ll get you in touch with a local network partner that can help you out.

If you are interested in being a Network Partner, sign up online or reach out to me.


One of my first Network Partners, who actually offers almost all of the services listed above, is TechTown. TechTown, Detroit’s research and technology park, was established in 2000 when Wayne State University, General Motors and the Henry Ford Health System convened to create an engine of economic growth with both local and statewide impact. TechTown stimulates job growth and small-business creation by developing companies in emerging high-technology industries including advanced engineering, life sciences and alternative energy.

TechTown is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is the Woodward Technology Corridor SmartZone.

In the years since its inception, TechTown has developed into an epicenter of high-tech business creation by equipping new companies with the services, support and resources they need to grow and thrive. The 12-block park is poised to become a critical source of job growth in Michigan.


  • TechOne, the 100,000-square-foot business incubator facility, now hosts 40 growing companies.
  • More than 30 high-tech startups have enrolled in TechTown’s business accelerator programs.
  • NextEnergy, an alternative energy incubator founded to encourage the commercialization of emerging energy technologies, opened its $12 million research facility in TechTown.
  • Asterand, a biomaterials bank and TechTown’s first tenant, has become an international, publicly traded company on the London Stock Exchange.

TechTown Detroit

SRT Solutions 

Microsoft BizSpark

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