Microsoft's BizSpark is a program to help startups use Microsoft's software.
There are issues with this program:
Has anyone else been through this process that can help me figure this out?
I am the BizSpark program manager at Microsoft, and our criteria is pretty clear.
If you are a software startup (not a consulting firm), less than 3 years, making less than 1M$ in annual revenues, you WILL be accepted. You can apply via Microsoft, or even better, via a network partner, like Bob, who can provide a lot of support and guidance on top of the core BizSpark offer.
That said, in order to audit the applications, we ask for a corporate email that matches your domain name, a valid website and a solid Business description. People applying with emails like @live.com or @gmail.com are not accepted and you will all understand why.
You can always write to us via BizSpark@microsoft.com, or use my personal email julienco @ microsoft.com. We are also super active on Twitter (@bizSpark).
30K startups already joined the program and we surely don't want to miss our next big partner out there.
Let me know if you get in.
There's another requirement for BizSpark and it's not on the site for some reason:
Please note: As of October 21st, 2009 Microsoft will only accept into the program startups applying to the program with a real URL (detailing their software activities) and an email matching the domain name (ex: person@microsoft, http://www.microsoft.com ). Microsoft will not accept BizSpark applicants with an email @live, @Hotmail, @gmail.com etc. Or without a valid URL.
Now this is directly from the director of BizSpark. Why the new requirement? Because starting the first week of October the program was flooded with applicants who 1) applied from hotmail accounts, 2) had no real sites, or at most some freebie site, 3) Went by fictitious names (my favorite was Charles Darwin) 4) could not put five words spelled correctly in a row. I'm assuming these were kids trying to score software they could then sell.
By the third week in October, bogus applications were running 5:1. Hence the new policy on the part of Microsoft.
I only approve those people who as me to sponsor them who look and act like actual developers who are creating startups. I easily spend an hour a day on this - unpaid. I agree with Microsoft's new criteria, but I don't understand why they don't just say so.
If you are an actual company, less than 1 year old and using MS technologies you'll get in.
Best way to go there find someone in the internet who can refer you, then wait for their email and register. There was a blog post and an MS employee was referring companies to BizSpark. I don't remember the link but I'm sure googling will help on that.
Also you can manually go and register but it might take a while for them to approve the application.
P.S. BizSpark is an insanely great offer by MS, does Apple do such thing? or any other non-open source company, I don't think so. So cut them some slack :) We saved thousands of dollars by using BizSpark and helped us a lot on testing software in many different platforms easily
I was rejected, no specific reason and I meet all the criteria.
No replies from the email I was given where they would be 'happy to help'
If they would at least say why I was rejected and had a process for submitting documentation I could send it in. Seems pretty arbitrary and nonsensical.
A couple years ago I became a registered commercial developer for the apple app store and while they required a lot of documentation they were very clear about what was required (scans of bills with address, corporate registration, etc). I had no problem getting approved with Apple.
I give up.
If it helps to know, I got rejected first time round - I wanted to make my business sound a little more substantial so I talked about other market participants I expected doing work with. They too that to mean I was just doing body-shopping. Once I clarified that I was building product independently, then I was accepted immediately. Clearly there is little value for them giving their software away just to save consulting firms money.
I should point out that I am in the UK, and there may be a much lower volume of applicants here. I would certainly try again.
1. Startup Eligibility Requirements1: An eligible startup must have the following characteristics at the time of joining:
• Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or online service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business2,
• Privately held,
• In business for less than 3 years3, and
• Less than US $1 million in annual revenue4
Examples of BizSpark enabled products and online services:
a) A Rich Internet Application (RIA) where most of the application’s functions are hosted (either by the Startup or managed hosting services). For example, an application to help make airline reservations.
b) An application for a desktop or mobile phone. For example, a game.
c) A combination of a) and b) above, where local function is complemented by a hosted component. For example, an application that helps a user select a local restaurant which uses a GPS to locate the user and a hosted service to locate nearby restaurants.
Not Eligible: Dashboards, HTML editors, utilities, and similar technologies are not considered a primary service or application.
To be eligible to use the BizSpark software for production and deployment of hosted solutions under BizSpark, Startups must also be developing a new "software as a service" solution (on any platform) to be delivered over the Internet.
To meet this requirement, your software must:
Add significant and primary functionality to the Microsoft software.
Be owned, not licensed, by you.
In Waterloo, which is where I operate, there are a number of organizations which can assist in getting you into BizSpark. Communitech is a tech company association, Accelerator Centre is a business accelerator (non-profit), and then in Toronto there is MaRS, etc. In addition, people associated with BizSpark seem to make the rounds to tech events as well.
My suggestion is that to ensure you get a fair evaluation, network (in person) and get to know someone who is trusted by BizSpark and get them to set it up.
I'm not an MS shop but for people who are it's a great deal.
I just applied for Bizspark two weeks ago. I did it with my MS live account (which is tied to my partner account). A few days after, I read this thread and saw the information about the undocumented acceptance criteria (url matching email, etc., and so I applied again with another account that I created. The account I created matched with an email for the startup etc.
I figured the first account, which had a barebones amount of startup information (just a basic description, etc. would be rejected, and the other one (which was more detailed and had a matching url to the email) would be accepted.
To my surprise, the barebones one was the one that was accepted. The other was rejected. I can only think the reason is perhaps because the one that was accepted was associated with my partner account, or perhaps they were smart enough to tie the two together and know that the same person was applying twice, so they just accepted the first one and rejected the second.
I hope this information helps someone.
I am going through this process right now. It is incredibly frustrating. Mine is a genuine start-up software development company. We could just as easily use a Linux/GNU toolchain or even OSX/XCode but would prefer to develop with Visual Studio.
On our third application I have pointed out how we meet each of the three criteria and included a link to my LinkedIn profile. We will see if this is successful.
There are no details of our activities on our website. This is very common for "stealth-mode" startups so surely this is not the issue? We do have
http://ourcompanyname.com with email addresses
email@example.com. And our company is registered at http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/ so MS can check it's genuine.
I don't need the services of any of the partners although I did try registering via our business bank HSBC the second time.
Please Microsoft, give me some clues here!