Start-up your Web business with Microsoft BizSpark

Posted: Dec 08, 2008  53 comments  

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Starting up a Web business, especially in this economy, isn’t easy.  Microsoft wants to make it easier.  A few weeks ago we announced Microsoft BizSpark, a new program specifically for Web start-ups which makes it very easy to get access to the latest versions of Windows, SQL, Visual Studio – with full Microsoft support – very easy and absolutely free to get started! 

What do I get with BizSpark?

Software

  • 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.

Support

  • 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

Visibility

  • 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.

 

How to qualify?

If you meet these three simple criteria, you can sign-up today:

  • Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business[1],
  • Privately held, and in business for less than 3 years[2], and
  • Less than US $1 million in annual revenue[3].

 

What happens after three years of participation in BizSpark?

In addition to responsibility for the USD$100 program offering fee, Startups can continue to use the development tools they previously obtained through the program. If Startups wish to continue to receive updates to development tools, Startups can renew their MSDN subscription at usual rates and terms. To continue to use the production licenses, Startups 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 are in no way obligated to do so.

 

How do I get a sponsor?

In order to protect the program from abuse, Microsoft has put in place a sponsorship requirement.  Finding sponsorship couldn’t be easier, the current list of sponsors is included in the sign-up process.  If you don’t already belong to one of the existing sponsorship organizations, I can sponsor you!  Just contact me through the ‘contact me’ link and I’ll be happy to help you. 

 

How easy is it to sign-up?

It is really easy, I did it in less than 5 minutes.  Here are the steps:

 

1) Go to http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/ and click “Join BizSpark now!”

2) Sign in with your Live ID or create a new Live ID

step 0

3) Click the “I Accept” check boxes, and enter your enrollment code (If you don’t already have a sponsor, contact me and I’ll help you get started!)

step 1

4) Provide us some basic information about your start-up

step 2

5) Identify your primary contact

step 3

6) You’re done!!!  Now you can manage your BizSpark account from here.  Note your BizSpark Subscription ID (blanked out in red).  One of the things you’ll want to do next is activate your MSDN subscription using this ID.  You’ll need to do this in order to start downloading the software. 

step 4

7) To activate your MSDN subscription, visit https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/subscriptions/add/default.aspx and enter your name, email and the BizSpark subscription ID from the previous page, click the “I acknowledge and accept” checkbox and submit ‘OK’.  (Note, it may take 4-6 hours for your MSDN subscription to become available after signing up for your BizSpark account.  If MSDN doesn’t find your subscription, check back later.

step 6 

8) Once you’re up and running you may want to find a Windows hoster who can work with you and your production use licenses to offer your low-cost, discounted hosting services.  Through the BizSpark Start-up page you can click the “Manage Hoster Relationship” and find hosters in your country which are part of the program. 

step 5

 

Have questions?  Leave me a comment.  You may also want to check out the BizSpark FAQ:  http://www.microsoftstartupzone.com/BizSpark/Pages/FAQ.aspx

Comments

Hey Bill,

If I understand this correctly, it is not intented for consultants, is it? If I have a business that develops custom solutions for other business I can't use this, right?

Does BizSpark have a requirement similar to what the Empower has, where you need to develop a commercial product using Microsoft technologies? How will that process look like?

Thanks in advance,

Tom

Dec 08 2008 by Anonymous

what are the costs involved for the company for first 3 years. Would be great if there is a break down. Also will Microsoft own any software or other property of the business by providing this service?

Dec 09 2008 by Anonymous

We enrolled in BizSpark about 2 weeks after it was announced.  It's been exactly as advertised.  We set up a Windows Server 2008 server, added SQL Server 2008 and Team Foundation Server 2008, and installed Visual Studio 2008 Team Edition Team Suite (I think that's the name) on 3 developer machines.  All for $100 due 3 years from now?  Can't beat *that* deal with a stick.

Dec 09 2008 by Anonymous

The revenue requirement should increase some. Some start-ups may make more than a million in revenue but the expenses makes it way less. There is always open-source and developers willing to wrestle with help-forums if Microsoft does not help them.

Dec 09 2008 by Anonymous

Tom:  if you "sell" a product or service to your customers, you likely qualify.  If you "sell" your labor consulting for another company, then BizSpark is probably not the right program for you.

Anonymous:  RE: costs.  At the end of the three years you owe Microsoft USD$100 if you are still using the software.  That is the only charge for being in the program, and Microsoft assumes no ownership of the company or the products / services you build.

Dec 09 2008 by bills

Hello Bill,

I'm very interested in this opportunity but there aren't really any of the Network partners in my area.  I've tried using the contact button to reach you and submitted for assitance the other day with no reply.

If you aren't close to any of the partners listed, what's the best way to get the ball rolling on this?

Thanks.

Dec 10 2008 by kkfrost

Kris, and to all those who have sent me mail interested in the program.  Thanks for your interest!  Due to overwhelming response I am a bit backed up, but I will process your requests the next few days.  You should be hearing from my shortly!  Thanks!

Dec 10 2008 by bills

Does the business have to be Technology oriented. I have been developing a website geared towards commerce but continue to run into short falls. Alos what roll will the sponsor play it this opportunity.

Dec 10 2008 by Anonymous

Hi Anonymous - the start-up business does not have to target 'technology' as a solution, just offer products or software as a service to their customers (as opposed to consulting services where the labor is for sale).  The sponsor simply nominates interested parties into the program.  Those who sign-up are responsible for self-validating that they meet the eligibility requirements.  

Dec 10 2008 by bills

I have signed up to the Bizspark program and was wondering if there was any special licensing available for Virtual Earth.

I have seen blogs.microsoft.fr/.../25120.aspx which suggests a fee of around 6500€ a year which for our startup is a little steep. I have some really good ideas that could definately improve our product using Virtual Earth but until I have approximately 50 customers the cost will be too high.

Regards

Russell

Dec 11 2008 by Anonymous

Russell, thanks for the feedback!  We'll work with the Virtual Earth team to see if we can get some kind fo discount for BizSpark members.  While we don't have anything right now, you may have seen there are other Live service discounts available for BizSpark members:

Bizspark and Cloud Services

Web services and platforms are a growing, and rapidly evolving, part of software solutions. Processing “in the cloud”  provides capabilities as diverse as mapping, identity management, storage and spam filtering. These capabilities can complement existing applications or provide the basis for completely new ones.  Bizspark includes access to Microsoft’s current services and will continue to add new ones as they arrive.

Bizspark today includes access to Live Platform Services and also to the Community Technical Preview (CTP) of Microsoft’s new Azure Services Platform that was announced on Oct xx at the Microsoft Professional Development Conference (PDC).

The Azure Services Platform is the collection of Foundational, Developer and Live Platform Service such as Windows Azure, Live Mesh, Compute Services, Storage Services, Workflow Services, Identity Services, Connectivity Services, SQL Data Services. All developers will have access to the Azure Services Platform developer tools which includes the local development fabric. The Windows Azure operational capacity will be limited during the initial CTP, but will expand rapidly. Bizspark participants, will receive preferential access to the Azure Services Platform CTP.  To sign up for the CTP, Bizspark  participants should enroll and profile with the same LiveId 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.

Live Platform Services (LiveID, messaging, etc) are mostly free up to certain limits and are available at http://dev.live.com . Bizspark participants should enroll using their BizSpark LiveID and will qualify for higher limits for one year of use. Specifically:

• 1M Unique Users (UU)/month for personal data API’s and 1M UU/month for Communications services (like WLML) for US

• 1M UU/month for personal data API’s and 500K UU/month for communications services everywhere else

Dec 11 2008 by bills

Thanks for that Bill. I have been meaning to look at the Azure Services Platform.

Typically we are beginning to sign up clients so migration to the Azure Platform may have to wait until we have a stable release.

I made the mistake of implementing some nice features using Virtual Earth presuming that the licensing would not be a problem, It wasn't till I was thinking about releasing it that I checked the licensing! Doh.

This may be a big ask but if I was thinking about migrating our application to the Azure platform what kind of time would be required? We are using SQL Server 2008 - Linq to SQL and ASP.NET MVC.

Dec 11 2008 by rpooley

The good news is Azure is great for building ASP.NET applications.  It fully supports ASP.NET framework running in medium trust levels.  It currently does not support SQL Server directly in Azure, but does support SQL data service through SSDS.  See www.microsoft.com/.../data.mspx

Dec 11 2008 by bills

How long will this offer be available?

I asked this at a local user group (AZGroups) meeting but the answer I was given was "as I said before, the membership lasts for 3 years", which isn't what I asked.

I need to know how long the offer is available because I *do plan* to enter into business selling online services and making heavy use of .NET to do so, so I could really benefit, but it may not be for a year or so. I'd like to know that I'm safe if I don't act right now, prematurely. Greater to my concern is that the business plan has not fully materialized so I fear not being accepted into the program if I attempt to try right now, and I make a terrible bullsh***er. :)

Jon

Dec 19 2008 by stimpy77

Hi Bill,

2 quick questions:

1: When you say, "in business for less than 3 years" when do you start the count? For example, we incorporated last year, but during that time we were still developing our application. We didn't start selling it until this year.

2. After 3 years, you wrote, "Startups can continue to use the development tools they previously obtained through the program."

I assume that means we can keep the software free-of-charge and continue using it? Meaning we don't have to pay for new development licenses?

(Of course hopefully we'll have made enough to purchase it by then, but I would like to plan for any future budget expenditures as well :))

Thanks for the help!

Dec 20 2008 by Anonymous

Hi,

Does the business have to be developing web software?  Can it be a windows application sold over the internet?

Thanks

Dec 21 2008 by Anonymous

Hi,

I am developing a Windows application.  Would I be eligible for BizSpark?  Also, what exactly does the BizSpark Startup Program Guide mean when it says "How long can I participate in BizSpark?

For three years (renewed annually), unless the Startup goes public..." (the goes public part)?  What does it mean "to go public"?

Dec 23 2008 by Anonymous

Bill, What I and I think a lot of business people need is a quick way to get an ecommerce suite of apps up and running without depending on a lot of IT people. For example, I would like to setup a web store that accepts PayPal and Amazon payments, plus SEO, RSS, etc. so I can sell downloadable videos, T-shirts, etc.. Each product would have customer ratings and comments, like Magento offers for PHP.

Dec 27 2008 by Anonymous

Hi Jon,

We don't have an end date planned for the program, so for now it will be available for the foreseeable future.  We're waiting to see what the response to the program is and hear feedback from members to determine effectiveness.  thanks,

bill

Dec 29 2008 by Anonymous

Re "in business 3 years" I would think it is from the time you start doing business (eg selling your product or service).

Dec 29 2008 by bills

I'd like to suggest that the license be amended so that the requirements are: 'You can use the software obtained through the BizSpark program for three years from the date you enroll.'

Eliminate the company in business for < 3 years requirement.

Jan 01 2009 by Anonymous