How Microsoft can help tech startups to be successful.
Creating an app or a product is easy but building a business or company is super hard.
I lead the startup business in Microsoft, my team of technical and business evangelist talk a lot of tech startups and help them to build successful tech startups. I have been doing this for couple of years and in my previous life I have been part of two successful tech startups.
Some of my observations from the tech startup ecosystem are
- · Startups are looking for co-founders, investors but they do not think about partnerships till they are ready to go to market.
- · They are aware of tools and platform to build the product but do not think about free resources to build a company, and run the business.
- · Startups are so focused on creating a product, they do not think about building a business.
Based on my observation I have come up with a notion of startup lifecycle (which incidentally also aligns well with the lean startup movement), phases that every startup goes though from Ideation to Exit. I also want to reiterate the fact that building the app or product is really easy but to build a real business and a company you do need partner and resources that can help you all along the lifecycle.
I am sure there are a ton of free resources that a startup can avail from all around but my write-up is about what Microsoft has to offer and resources that we make available to tech startups to become successful companies.
Microsoft is the world’s biggest software vendor. Microsoft build tools and platform that that span from cloud to client. Microsoft also has a lot of people in the field, sales and business development teams whose mission is to sell through partners, no one knows the partnership business better than Microsoft. Microsoft has programs and teams with mission of partnering with startups and helping them to be successful on Microsoft platform.
A typical startup lifecycle starts with ideation or concept phase and concludes at exit or breakout phase, obviously it is an iterative process and a lot of pivoting due to external environmental constraints.
The resources that Microsoft brings to the partnership are not limited to BizSpark, which gives the Microsoft software platform and tools free to qualified startups to build their product and run their business.
Ideation / Concept Phase
This is the most important phase for a startup, this is where the problem is identifies and opportunity surfaces. Microsoft has best, qualified industry experts who can discuss opportunities and gaps with you. Microsoft also participates and host a lot of industry events, you should attend, find opportunities to sit down with experts. These experts are also incentivized to discuss business development opportunities with you and host office hours that you can attend. Reach out to 1776, your local accelerator or incubator, I am sure you will be able to bounce your idea and get a candid feedback. You will also be able to access business and technical experts if you want to learn more about platform, technology or market size
Envisioning / Beta MVP
As you move into the envisioning phase ready to build an MVP, you can reach out to Microsoft technical architects and developer evangelists in the field. Microsoft evangelists host a lot of office hours, web and developer camps and will spend 1:1 time with you to help you architect and design your MVP. You also have access to BizSpark to get free tools to build MVP. (What can BizSpark do for you!) Startups also get access to Windows Azure, Microsoft Cloud platform to host their MVP or their business website. If you are building an app, you get developer licensed for windows store. Startups also have access to technical, business and Industry experts with Microsoft or within Microsoft partner ecosystem. Evangelists will introduce you to beta customers if needed, will provide reference architecture, opportunity mapping and help to make you successful during your envisioning and building an MVP phase.
Product development / Market Fit
Revenue / Scaling
Once the product is ready and you are in selling mode, Microsoft can help you co-marketing your app or solution to achieve your user acquisition goals if you are in consumer space. You can be one of the BizSpark featured startup, we will tweet, FB and blog about you. We will also interview you, your startup journey and your product and put you on video and online channels for promoting your app or solution and help you in your user acquisition. If you are selling to enterprises or are a commercial software startups, we can land some introductions for you at your target customer. We have accounts teams, field sellers and business development managers, whose job is to talk to our big enterprise customers and believe me we have many. Our reps will love to introduce you to your target customer is your solution is relevant. We can also do some creative co-marketing with you and offer you spotlight at our conferences, industry events and online stores. There may also be opportunities to help you find a potential investor via our VC and angle connections.
Exit / Breakout
Now that you are in the breakout phase, Microsoft will love you to be the poster startup of success. We will love to show you off at our events and conferences. Microsoft may align account teams for growing your business and sell through motions. There will be a lot of Customer introduction and partner management. At this phase you have become a successful business and there may be opportunities for introduction to potential exit venues.
It will not hurt to start thinking about partnering with the 800 pound gorilla who may become your most trusted partner.
Think of this partnership as an investment from Microsoft in your success so when you become more than a million dollar software company and exit from the BizSpark program, Microsoft can start getting its licensing revenue.
Also did I mention that we have our own accelerators around the globe and venture program that you can apply and participate.
You can reach out to the Microsoft startup team on @bizspark or @ashishjaiman.