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What Does Microsoft for Startups Offer to Emerging Businesses?

If you're looking for an accelerator, could Microsoft for Startups be right for you?

By:

Chris Kernaghan

An image of Microsoft for Startups Website

Are you familiar with Microsoft for Startups?

Microsoft for Startups has allocated $500 million to support fledgling businesses specialising in cloud-based software solutions. Microsoft claim that this initiative offers funding, dispenses marketing and tech counsel, and "streamlines sales procedures".

Essentially, it functions as an accelerator of sorts—an intensive program delivering guidance and support to startups over a defined period, typically over three months. It's often been referred to as a virtual hub for founders, helping in areas founders need most, such as funding, marketing, and technology advice.

The overall objective is to provide entry to cutting-edge AI services, expert guidance, and essential technology. Empowering startups to forge a future-proofed path, backed by Microsoft, is a tempting prospect.

So if you're looking for an accelerator, could Microsoft for Startups be right for you?

Well, accelerators equip early-stage companies possessing a minimum viable product (MVP) with education, resources, and mentorship to fast-track years of growth within months.

If this is you, read on for more details.

What Benefits Does This Bring for Founders?

Azure Credits for Cloud Services

One of the standout features of Microsoft for Startups is the provision of free Azure credits. These credits unlock access to Microsoft's powerful cloud services, allowing startups to build, deploy, and scale their applications with ease.

If you're not familiar with Azure, it's Microsoft's cloud service platform, offering powerful tools and resources.

"The Azure cloud platform is more than 200 products and cloud services designed to help you bring new solutions to life—to solve today’s challenges and create the future. Build, run, and manage applications across multiple clouds, on-premises, and at the edge, with the tools and frameworks of your choice." - Microsoft Azure

Technical Advisory and Consulting

This stands out as a notable feature of Microsoft for Startups since engaging with others allows you to break out of your bubble and gain diverse perspectives. Microsoft offer personalised technical guidance from skilled engineers at any point in your journey.

For example, If you need assistance on various topics, such as staying updated on AI trends, selecting the right products, optimising infrastructure, cutting costs, enhancing performance, and creating effective roadmaps, you'll have the opportunity to speak to someone.

Given that the technology sector is always moving forward, and fast, making an informed decision can be challenging.

This is often the case for early-stage startups. Microsoft for Startups can also offer technical support, ensuring that founders have a helping hand when they encounter challenges or need guidance on utilising Microsoft's tools effectively.

Mentorship

There's no doubt that mentorship can play a pivotal role in shaping the success of founders, providing invaluable guidance, insights, and a supportive network for navigating challenges. Whether it's just a casual chat, or bringing a mentor in on a regular basis, it's good to externalise your thoughts and ideas through others.

"The biggest advice I would give is to chat with as many people as possible and absolutely never be afraid to ask for help or advice. I think it was Ian Browne (exited entrepreneur) who once told me more conversations lead to more opportunities, I couldn't agree more." - Scott Wylie

Microsoft for Startups can help founders get important insights from experts.

This includes M12 venture capitalists and successful former founders, offering unlimited 1:1 guidance on industry best practices, scaling, go-to-market strategy, and fundraising.

Essentially, there's an opportunity to connect with seasoned entrepreneurs who can become valuable mentors, assisting in refining your product, perfecting your business model, and connecting you with eager investors.

Co-selling Opportunities

If you're a founder, you probably already know that collaboration is key in the startup world. It's difficult to get anywhere without it.

Through Microsoft for Startups, founders gain access to co-selling opportunities. What are co-selling opportunities? Well, this means you can get exposure to Microsoft's vast network of customers, potentially leading to partnerships and increased visibility for their products or services.

Microsoft is an enormous company, with a seemingly endless supply of potential contacts. This is an opportunity to tell the world about you and your product.

Access to Microsoft's Ecosystem

Expanding on the above point, this is a means to get into Microsoft's ecosystem.

Being part of Microsoft for Startups means becoming a part of Microsoft's extensive ecosystem - this in itself is quite considerable. This includes networking opportunities, mentorship, and exposure to industry experts – invaluable resources for any founder looking to make a mark in their respective fields.

On the flip side, if you do apply for Microsoft for Startups, you're entire business will be tied to technology that belongs to Microsoft. Be careful before signing any agreements, and always, always, always carry out your due diligence in case competitors suit your needs better.

How Founders Can Maximise Microsoft for Startups

Strategic Utilisation of Azure Credits

The provided Azure credits are a powerful resource, but they need to be used strategically.

Founders should assess their technical needs and plan the utilisation of these credits to optimise their cloud services, whether it's for development, testing, or scaling their applications.

Active Engagement with Technical Support

Don't hesitate to reach out for technical support. If you're a non-technical founder, no question is too silly. Technical support are exactly that, there to offer you support as and when needed.

Whether it's troubleshooting issues, seeking advice on best practices, or exploring new features, taking full advantage of the support available can streamline the development process and enhance the overall quality of your product.

Participation in Co-selling Opportunities

Actively explore co-selling opportunities.

Engage with Microsoft's sales teams, showcase the unique value proposition of your startup, and demonstrate how your product or service aligns with the needs of Microsoft's customer base.

This proactive approach can open doors to partnerships and revenue growth.

Networking within the Microsoft Ecosystem

Leverage the networking opportunities within Microsoft's ecosystem.

Attend events, connect with mentors, and participate in community forums. Building relationships within this expansive network can lead to collaborations, insights, and mentorship that can significantly impact the trajectory of your startup.

Realising the Full Potential

Microsoft for Startups isn't just a resource; it's a partnership that can catapult your startup to new heights.

By harnessing the benefits offered and actively engaging with the program, founders can tap into a wealth of opportunities that extend far beyond the initial support.

At this point, you might be wondering, "How likely am I to be accepted?"

Gaining acceptance into an accelerator is typically highly challenging, with a mere 1 to 3% of startups successfully making the final selection.

To stand out, clearly and concisely express the significant value your company brings to the world and convey your excitement about your idea. Don't be afraid to show a little passion in your application. Try to be as unique as possible, steering away from a mere listing of product features and focusing on articulating compelling benefits.

It could quite literally, change your life as having a strong ally like Microsoft for Startups can be a game-changer. From free Azure credits to co-selling opportunities and access to a vast ecosystem, the program is designed to fuel innovation and foster the growth of emerging businesses.

For founders, the key lies in embracing these resources, actively participating, and forging meaningful connections within the Microsoft community. It's not just a program; it's a pathway to success in the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship.

About The Author

An image of Microsoft for Startups Website
Chris Kernaghan
http://wearefounders.uk

By day, Chris works as a UX Designer, crafting easy-to-use interfaces and ensuring companies focus on what users need. At night, he runs We Are Founders, a platform where founders share inspirational journeys.

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