Microsoft's BizSpark program and their acceptance criteria


Microsoft's BizSpark is a program to help startups use Microsoft's software.

There are issues with this program:

  • They don't explain clearly what the requirements are to be approved
  • If you get denied, no explanation is given. They don't mention which criteria you didn't meet.
  • No contact information anywhere on finding why your submission was denied
  • Their emails come from a no-reply email address

Has anyone else been through this process that can help me figure this out?

Tips Microsoft Bizspark

asked Feb 6 '10 at 10:02
384 points
  • If you got rejected, then you could try asking Bob Walsh at for help -- he's a major sponsor for BizSpark. The process is based on your sponsor helping to qualify that you meet the criteria, maybe your old sponsor did a bad job... – Jesper Mortensen 14 years ago
  • @Abdu, your comments are very vague and you don't provide any details about your own situation, your website, your business, etc. No one here is going to start badmouthing Microsoft based on your experience, which by the way is only inferred from your post. You never actually state that it happened to you. – Tim J 14 years ago
  • @Tim, are you very familiar with the BizSpark program or work closely with them that qualifies you to give me reasons for rejection? I am not asking anyone to badmouth them. I didn't have a good experience with the program and I am ranting. However now I have all the tools I need and I am not interested in the program anymore. Whether it happened to me or someone else, it doesn't change the facts which I stated. – Abdu 14 years ago
  • Two companies I started were accepted by bizspark. One was initially rejected, I contracted the appropriate people, and was given a reason. We handled the issue and we were accepted. (It was a misunderstanding on MS part) – Tim J 11 years ago

10 Answers


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 or are not accepted and you will all understand why.

You can always write to us via [email protected], or use my personal email julienco @ 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.

answered Feb 15 '10 at 13:38
276 points
  • What about consulting independants outfits (small, about 250k in revenue) that decide to go software development and have an early prototype to show, BUT more than 3 years in consulting so far (registered business activity)? – Net Tecture 13 years ago
  • Start a separate entity for your software product. The new entity will meet the requirements for the BSPark program. – Mike Brown 13 years ago
  • I've been a BizSpark member for 2 years now. A great program for startups, indeed. – Steve Wortham 12 years ago
  • Nice answer - refreshing to see some proper engagement! – Up The Creek 11 years ago
  • That doesn't match our experience. We're a two-person software-development startup running since August; our projected annual turnover is noticeably less than $1M; we have a website and email hosted with Office365; and yet we have **still** been rejected. – Richard Deeming 11 years ago


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, ). Microsoft will not accept BizSpark applicants with an email @live, @Hotmail, 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.

answered Feb 7 '10 at 11:16
Bob Walsh
2,620 points
  • I suspect that this might be the reason for this case. I thought that rule was always in place. (or perhaps you were just "thorough" from the start.) In any case when we did it last year MS required that I provide a domain name. – Tim J 14 years ago
  • Then they need be to upfront with all these requirements and state reasons for rejections and be transparent instead of leaving people in the dark with questions like.. what? why? when? how come? So for example if they refuse all applications with gmail accounts (not that I used one), then say so. There are real startups which use email addresses other than their own domain name for whatever reason. As far as I remember, the online application form was so simple with very few fields and I ended up wondering if this is for real. Isn't this an open door for anyone to get free software? – Abdu 14 years ago


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

answered Feb 6 '10 at 11:31
The Dictator
2,305 points
  • Went through all that. You can't register without someone sponsoring you. I did pick Godaddy just because I register domain names with them. The whole process is weird. You pick a sponsor from a list but the sponsor can approve you and they know nothing about you. Microsoft's doesn't ask you how old your company is. If you are already using Microsoft technologies, why are you join the program? To get the software you don't have? The process is based more on luck than a clear cut one. – Abdu 14 years ago
  • Apple: possibly because Apple's development tools are free? – Sbwoodside 14 years ago
  • @sbwoodside It's not only development tools, it's OS as well and many of them. – The Dictator 14 years ago
  • BTW we've registered without a sponsorship and using BizSpark for a while now. I'm not quite sure if they've changed it or not. – The Dictator 14 years ago


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.

answered Oct 23 '12 at 02:50
21 points
  • I was rejected also. I contacted the "sponsoring" agency to follow up, ask why and to show/prove I did meet the criteria. I was then approved. You just have to follow up. – Tim J 11 years ago


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.

answered Feb 6 '10 at 21:53
Steve Wilkinson
2,744 points


Startup Eligibility

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.

answered May 21 '13 at 09:25
Pranay Sharma
11 points


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.

answered Feb 6 '10 at 11:56
186 points
  • Then choosing a sponsor from a sponsor list provided by Microsoft and then that sponsor approving you without any kind of interaction doesn't seem like a practical idea. I always had my doubts of what seemed like an automatic approval from an entity like Godaddy. – Abdu 14 years ago


Their requirements are pretty clear. And their process is certainly more friendly than, say, the apple app store...

Have you been to the bizspark home page? Have you read the requirements?

I thought this doc/link was pretty clear.

I found the process to be straightforward and easy.

answered Feb 6 '10 at 12:35
Tim J
8,346 points
  • Yes Tim I have been to their site when I applied. How can you apply if you don't go through them? I also mentioned their home page url in my post here.. and I read the requirements.. and I applied.. and it was rejected and my post was about not giving a reason .. and I am aware of the requirements they mentioned.. and I meet them and I don't even know how they can verify these requirements.. like how can they know how much money I have invested in in own company when it's strictly private. – Abdu 14 years ago
  • I don't see the relationship between BizSpark and the Apple's app Store. Isn't the store's purpose to provide apps to the public and it's not about providing development tools? – Abdu 14 years ago


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.

answered Dec 2 '12 at 12:12
Richard Des Londe
206 points


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 with email addresses [email protected]. And our company is registered at 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!

answered Jun 21 '11 at 18:37
394 points

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