Get to know Microsoft for startups Founders Hub

by Microsoft

Microsoft has a long history of working with startups as an investor, technology and business partner. After thorough research, last year it rethought its startup program and came up with a new concept that can support founders across a broad range of their most pressing challenges, from idea to exit, whether it’s product development, professional mentoring or international market entry. While the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is a complex program in itself, it is only a precursor to the long-term partnership that Microsoft intends to build with software developers (ISVs).

Founders Hub – How Does Microsoft Support Startups?

Last October, Microsoft launched its latest initiative for startups, the Founders Hub, an online self-service platform. Thanks to new innovations, it is now not only working with growth-stage B2B-focused startups, but also with B2C-focused ideas. Formerly known as Bizpark, the startup program has become known in recent years as Microsoft for startups, and Founders Hub is an enhanced version of this. The new program is based on thorough research. As it turns out, the founders need support on several fronts: while it is important to start developing the product from the very beginning, using professional technologies in an agile way and with a view to long-term scalability, it is also crucial for them to have access to experienced professionals and sales channels.

That’s why Microsoft has designed its programme to support founders from the idea stage, giving them access to Azure cloud services worth up to $150,000 for up to four years.

This is a huge help for any startup at all stages of development no matter if they are bootstrapping or willing to grow thanks to venture capital. In addition to a professional development environment, Microsoft will provide startups with a range of software tools that will give them a solid foundation for both day-to-day operations and product development. While developers can use Github and Visual Studio to code, Microsoft 365.

Teams and Dynamics CRM can help with communication within and outside the company. Another new feature is that Microsoft is opening the doors to its own experts and through a mentoring platform, providing access to a highly experienced team of professionals who can support and navigate founders with advice and feedback in both technology and sales and marketing. Mentors include Microsoft middle and senior managers who are happy to share their knowledge and experience with entrepreneurs. The half-hour sessions can be initiated online through the Founders Hub platform and have often resulted in a long-term advisory relationship between the parties. As the Startup Hungary Foundation’s Startup Report 2020 points out, the biggest challenge for startups at the end of the day is business development and sales. Finding the right sales and marketing professionals in the Hungarian market is challenging, and the success rate of startups in entering the international market is very low. In response to this challenge, Microsoft wants to help startups to reach the desired customers through its own sales channels. Both directly through its sales force and through its partners and online marketplaces (Azure Marketplace and Appsource), it will enable entrepreneurs to conquer new markets hand in hand with Microsoft. It’s important to note that the program itself is global, which means that startups all over the world receive the same framework and benefits, but with local and regional support.

Why Does Microsoft Support Startups?

Microsoft has tripled the number of startups supported by the program in Hungary during 2021, so there are quite a few startups in Hungary that are growing on Azure and with Microsoft’s strong support. The aim is to further increase this number and to create more and more partnerships that go beyond the startup program and are long term.

Many may ask why it is worthwhile for Microsoft to support startups in such large numbers, both professionally and financially. To do this, it is important to understand that Microsoft is a partner-led company that achieves a significant part of its growth through its partners.

Microsoft is not looking at ISVs as a David and Goliath battle, but is looking for synergies that can help them enter the market together. The tech giant puts emphasis on product integrations and on developing its online marketplace to give partners the opportunity to sell their products internationally to Microsoft customers.

Microsoft’s enterprise customers are increasingly looking to the online marketplace for software solutions to their current business or technology needs. Selling through the marketplace means for the ISVs that Microsoft is responsible for the invoicing, which makes it much easier for a smaller player to sell without having to get involved in the various international tax rules and the administration of becoming an official supplier to its target customer. Microsoft aims to increase the number of its long-term strategic partners and believes that a large number of these partners will grow out of the startup ecosystem.

How to apply for the Microsoft for Startups program?

Since the launch of the Founders Hub, it has become much easier than before to apply for the Microsoft for Startups program.

The application process is done through the Founders Hub online platform and takes just a few minutes.

To apply, you need:

  • a company website

  • a pitch deck

  • a personal LinkedIn profile

Once you submit your application, you will receive a response within days. If the application is successful, startups will have access to Microsoft’s services. Applications for the program goes on a rolling basis, with no specific start dates or deadlines.

To whom do we recommend Microsoft for startups Founders Hub?

Although, as I mentioned earlier, the Microsoft for startups program is now widely available, it is still worthwhile for founders to consider when it is most appropriate to join. As there are no deadlines, it is up to each individual to assess when they are ready and when they can make the most out of the opportunity. In our experience, the teams that can benefit the most are those that come to the program prepared. It is important to plan in advance what and how you will use the benefits available and it is also key to have a dedicated person responsible for the partnership with Microsoft. In the absence of this, we often find that the program runs out without the startup consciously taking advantage of its potential. Another important aspect is that there is a consensus within the team between development and business management and a shared commitment to the partnership.

The life of a startup is often about solving day-to-day challenges and putting out fires, so decisions that affect long-term strategic directions tend to be postponed by founders, who say that there are always more important problems to solve.

As a result, however, programs may become wasted opportunities. The third aspect to be aware of before joining is the difference in organizational cultures. While a startup can be agile, fast and flexible, with its own needs in mind, a large company like Microsoft is more likely to operate according to predefined processes and more stringent internal rules and expectations. Sometimes startups find themselves with a more complex administrative process than expected and sometimes not all personal needs can be met by a standard international programme. Given these circumstances, personal contact with the local Microsoft for startups team becomes key. Overall, Microsoft welcomes applications from startups with high growth potential that want to grow and develop with a trusted technology and business partner to serve large enterprise customers it is in the a healthcare, financial, or retail industry solution or an innovation that solves problems for large enterprise customers.

Next Post

The All-In-One Toolkit For Working With Freelancers
Back to Top