Microsoft for Startups: A $500 Million Program for Entrepreneurs


    Startups drive technology forward, and Microsoft wants to prove it values startups’ contributions. Microsoft for Startups is a $500 million initiative to help startups create, develop and market enterprise-level software. Microsoft’s new program will provide a variety of perks to all startups, like networking resources, and select benefits to specific partner companies. Some high-level benefits include up to $120,000 in Azure credits, a free Office 365 Business Premium subscription and priority sales status among Microsoft’s 40,000-plus sales representatives.

    If you’re running a tech startup, it’s important to be aware of what resources you have access to as part of this new program. The overall structure of this program, for most startups, involves reducing friction for development and operations. Still, the program offers resources to tech startups looking to make a splash in the enterprise software industry.

    Before we dive into all the features and components of the program, you need to understand what companies qualify for what benefits.

    Microsoft for Startups is a two-pronged program: All startups will have access to select benefits, while qualified startups will get better guidance. If you qualify, you’ll be backed by a third-party company that provides initial resources and guidance, like an incubator, accelerator or venture capitalist firm. Microsoft will also review your company and confirm what benefits you’ll have access to. There aren’t many details on this review process, but startups working with incubators, accelerators or venture capitalists can contact their local program director to find out if they qualify for certain benefits.

    The separation along this line is intended to ensure qualified startups can take full advantage of the resources Microsoft has to offer. The offering is still robust – even unconfirmed startups have access to things like the Microsoft Partner Network and a free Azure trial. The qualified benefits provide more of a road map for startups looking for sales and marketing support as well as funding.

    The bottom line is you need to qualify to access full benefits. You can get qualified by pitching incubators, accelerators, and venture capitalists about your company’s goals and product. If you end up partnering with an organization, you can talk with your program director about getting an enrollment code to work with Microsoft.

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