Thursday, November 6, 2008

Advantages of a down economy: BizSpark

Fair warning: This fellow has far more
software development knowledge than I do.

One of the advantages of a down economy is that demand for certain things falls, and those who supply those things seek new ways to market their product. The startup industry has shrunk a little bit in the current economy and those that remain are tightening their belts amid the credit crunch. Microsoft, who has spent an great deal of time and energy in recent years attempting to expand down the market in enterprise solutions to service the smaller business, and has been attempting to claim territory in "software as service", the expected next phase of the software industry, has decided to offer a huge chunk of their software design and developer tool resources to startups at no charge. Gratis, save for a small, small fee on the back end and provided that they meet certain criteria.

Details after the break...

The service, called BizSpark (presumably along the same line as their previous, similar offering for students, DreamSpark), primarily offers major-league support through access to the Microsoft Developer's Network and the MSDN library and a whole suite of software tools including "all the software included in the Visual Studio Team System Team Suite" and eligibility for the brand spanking new Azure Services Platform. I have been reliably informed that this is good stuff by those who know about such things. If you are one of those kind of people, they have a list of the major features here.

I am involved in a internet start-up, myself (in a non-technical capacity) and although I expect that the tech offerings will save large amounts of expenses down the line, I signed my company up for the immediate business benefits. One of the criteria for qualification is that you are sponsored by one of Microsoft's "Network Partners", who can provide everything from industry contacts to funding to general mentoring. The list of BizSpark Network Partners includes a large number of venture companies, although I cannot personally vouch for their general caliber because I haven't closely reviewed the list.

If you are involved in any startup, this is definitely worth your time to look into. Companies are jumping at the opportunity; when I first looked at it this morning, the BizSpark Startup Directory had 12 companies listed. When I started writing this it had 27. Now it has 31. But that is the beauty of software as a product, no scarcity.

Check out this eWeek article for another, more in-depth, summary of BizSpark or check out their own FAQ.

No comments: