What is BizSpark?
If you already have an enrollment code – go here: https://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/signup/
When you publish a Windows / Windows Phone app, you are a publisher. Software publishers are entrepreneurs; you are investing time and sometimes money to create software and get it in front of users. Entrepreneurs are startups – new companies, even if it’s only you as the sole proprietor. And for software startups, Microsoft has BizSpark.
If you are a developer, capable of forming a startup, you would be foolish to let this opportunity for free, premium software with no strings attached slip through your fingers. No developer should ever say, I can’t afford Microsoft software. BizSpark makes it possible.
BizSpark is a Microsoft program that provides free Microsoft products, software design, and development tools to business startups for 3 years. Included in these benefits is MSDN Ultimate. After the 3 years is over, your software licenses remain valid in perpetuity. However, because your benefits will have ended, updates to your software will be no longer available. It is possible to get the same benefits after BizSpark via a paid subscription at alumni prices.
Not just one subscription
But wait, there’s more! As the BizSpark Administrator you are empowered to issue MSDN to other development employees in your startup. This ensures they use the latest and the greatest tooling in the industry. It also means your BizSpark benefit is more than just ONE subscription, if needed.
Included in your MSDN Ultimate subscriptions are all Microsoft desktop operating systems from Windows XP through Windows 8 Pro. You also get every version of Microsoft Office, including a subscription to Office 365. You also get all Microsoft server operating systems and server applications, like SharePoint, SQL Server, and everything else.
Your MSDN subscription also includes Windows and Windows Phone developer accounts, priority support in MSDN forums, Microsoft e-learning courses, MSDN Magazine, and a whopping $150/month credits in Windows Azure – our cloud service for storage, compute, and hosting.
Visual Studio 2013 benefits
Unlike any other Integrated Development Environment (IDE) in the universe, Visual Studio is the one-stop shop for every type of development platform. If you are going to build a web site, a desktop app, an Xbox game, a phone, or a tablet app – it’s Visual Studio. And, with Visual Studio 2013 with Xamarin, Visual Studio is also your IDE of choice for iOS and Android development.
Visual Studio Online
An additional benefit of your MSDN subscription is Visual Studio Online. This includes all of the benefits of Team Foundation Server you might want. Learn more.
BizSpark is meant for startups like you. Startups building software like you. BizSpark does not require that you build only on the Microsoft platform or only for the Windows Store. BizSpark is for startups build any software, like you. Startups who want the best tooling, platform, and services.
Less than $1M in annual revenue
If your startup makes more than $1M in annual revenue, then you have a reason to celebrate. You are on the path to success. However, you are no longer eligible for BizSpark. This is an indelible rule of Microsoft BizSpark. Your startup can only qualify if you are making less. But for a vast majority of startups, they are not hitting this revenue mark yet. Congratulations, you qualify.
Aside: If success has caused your startup to spin off a new company, and that new company has not reached the BizSpark revenue limit, then that new company can enjoy BizSpark benefits. If you are considering a new spin-off, or a new startup, remember to consider BizSpark as part of your business plan.
Less than 5 years old
If your startup or your company has existed for more than 5 years, then you have another reason to celebrate. Most new companies do not make it past their first few years in business. However, you are no longer eligible for BizSpark. Like the revenue rule, this one can’t be bypassed. Your Startup can only qualify if you are less than 5 years old. But for the cast majority of startups, they are just getting started. Congratulations, you qualify.
Aside: If success has caused your startup to spin off a new company, and that new company has not reached the BizSpark age limit, then that new company can enjoy BizSpark benefits. If you are considering a new spin-off, or a new startup, remember to consider BizSpark as part of your business plan.
In additional to the two restrictions above (which are the most common blockers), BizSpark is also unavailable to public companies, companies not building software – including consulting companies, and companies that do not have a web site. Though your company does not have to be incorporated with your state, it is imperative it have a web site in order to qualify for BizSpark.
Create a web site
It’s not impossible that your startup does not have a web site. Your startup might have just been created. Congratulations. Websites in Windows Azure are fast, and your first 10 are free. If you would like to create your startup’s web site (remember your startup MUST have a web site in order to qualify for BizSpark), here are the instructions to create a site in Windows Azure.
You might wonder how sophisticated your web site needs to be in order to qualify for BizSpark. First, you should know that BizSpark is not trying to make you spend time or money creating a complex corporate online presence. BizSpark is trying to validate your business and its intention. Second, a simple web site qualifies, even one without a custom domain. Here’s an example of a simple, one-page corporate site.
Registering for BizSpark
If you have a fast-track code for BizSpark, congratulations. This code will help your startup step over some of the registration gates in BizSpark and get your benefits even faster. You should still know that BizSpark is not instant. It can take a few days for your BizSpark subscription to receive final approval, but with a fast-track code, that approval is even faster.
Your Microsoft account
The Microsoft account you use when registering for BizSpark will be the Microsoft account that administrates your BizSpark account. Because of this you might not want to use your personal Microsoft account to register; there are many reasons this is a good suggestion. If your company name is ImagineCorp, for example, you might create ImagineCorpApps@outlook.com as your new account.
Start here: https://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/signup/
If you have been part of BizSpark in the past, you cannot reuse the Microsoft account you previously used. Before you get started, creates a new Microsoft account, or have another ready. Also, if your have been part of BizSpark in the past, you cannot “renew” your BizSpark membership. After 3 years BizSpark will end. Only new companies to BizSpark qualify.