All shiny new engines need Spark Plugs

BizSparkIconThe Technology business is evolving, it always has been, but now the business models together with advancing technology are coming together to create a brand new subculture within the economy. Small businesses funded by high-risk venture capital have been around for a good while but the cultural change that is startups is about to be huge and spread way beyond the valley and the traditional epicenters of technology. Connectivity and the ever-smaller planet earth sprout out big and small startup communities all around the world.

Big business has taken notice of this and have happily realized the unparalleled innovative and commercial power of modern entrepreneurship. Everyone want’s the next big thing to jump into their bandwagon at the very beginning, because the future revenues of any company big or small will undeniably reflect positively to each and everyone of their stakeholders and partners. The mutual benefits are undeniable but the method of reaching the roots of the ecosystem vary greatly. One very positive example is the Microsoft approach.

Microsoft’s take to supporting small and seed-level businesses comes in 2 flavours. BizSpark is the way to go for a software development startup and WebsiteSpark is the choice of the aspiring Web Designer and developer. There is also a program called DreamSpark dedicated to technology students. Enrolling to these partnerships is free of charge. The Arctic MSP’s of Finland took it upon themselves to go and bother some of the hard-working people at Microsoft Finland to get some details on these programs.

Microsoft’s Hanne Leskinen, How long have these programs been around?

"BizSpark program was launched November 2008. Since then BizSpark has been available for Finnish startups. WebsiteSpark was launched 2009."

bizsparkWhat are the prerequisites for a business to join the programs? Are there some minimum qualifications?

"To qualify for BizSpark, your Startup must be: developing your own Software application, privately held, less than 3 years old, making Less than US $1 million in annual revenue.

WebsiteSpark benefits Web Pros who want to get more out of the Microsoft Web platform, have 10 or less members (including owners, employees, and contractors), and are actively building new Web sites for their customers."

How about some Maximum ones? When is a company too mature for the program?Startups can participate in the program for three years (renewed annually), unless they are listed on a public exchange (go public), are acquired by a company that does not itself qualify for BizSpark, or fail to abide by program terms and conditions. WebsiteSpark has the limit of 10 members in the company.

After three years of participation, a startup can benefit from the graduation offer:

Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) offers excellent support to continue cooperation with the Microsoft ecosystem. More info about it is available here:

What happens when the business doesn’t succeed and eventually goes under?

When business goes under, participation to program ends and use of program benefits ends. IPR’s (Intellectual Property Rights) of products or services startup has developed within BizSpark licenses are fully owned by startup who participates to BizSpark. We have no claim to these products.

Are there any restrictions or limitations to the licenses available through the programs or are they equal to fully commercial ones?

BizSpark provides entrepreneurs fast and easy access to current full-featured Microsoft development tools and productions licenses of server products. Startups may use BizSpark Program Software to design, develop, test and demonstrate Startup’s software applications.

WebsiteSpark software benefits are available to build and offer new Web sites for their customers.

BizSpark advertises to connect a startup to important networks of the business? What does this mean to Finnish startups in practice?

BizSpark Network Partner is active member of the local software ecosystem engaged with high-potential, early stage Startups. Network Partners may be organizations specifically focused on supporting entrepreneurs and Startup businesses, or whose activities include a focus on promoting and supporting software Startups, through programs, mentoring, networking, business advice, financial assistance or similar activities.

In Finland we have excellent Network Partners, who support startup ecosystem on their field of expertize such as incubation, business consulting, venture capital:

BizSpark Connect is a portal, where startups and Network Partners can connect online worldwide:

Can you give us a good example of a Finnish startup within the program?

Techila Technologies Ltd was selected from Finland to European BizSpark Summit this year.

Any words of wisdom to the young go-getters out there planning to get into the startup-game?

Show the world how good you are! If you don’t do that – nobody knows.


JesseSanttilaAbout the author:

Jesse (@JesseSanttila) is an IT student at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. He loves technology, gadgets, design, punk rock and videogames. He has been lately very excited about the upcoming Finnish startup-scene and brilliant ideas people come up with.


About arcticmsp

The Finnish Microsoft Student Partners are a group of enthusiastic students, who are interested in technology and all things new, techy and cool!
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