I was interested by this question and the program, so I decided to find out more about it. I contacted one of the companies listed on the MS site. I wanted to find out a few things, if I could:
- How are companies selected?
- Can I get an introduction?
- What benefits does the program provide?
- Is it worth the time and energy?
I will not reveal the name of the company but I just got off the phone with the head of marketing at one of the startups. She was very gracious with her time and the information and I really appreciate it.
Some answers and comments:
Not sure how that is determined. I suspect it is probably similar to the internal VC program at Intel - where companies that have a strategic benefit for MS are identified. That likely means something that correlates and fits with their current and future goals, and has a potential large market opportunity for them. The person I spoke to said she would do an email introduction.
We'll see how that works out.
The benefits she spoke about were mostly marketing related and sound very good. The website also provides plenty of detail - and I was hoping for, and got, specific examples.
Based on the conversation - for that particular company it is/was worth it.
I asked at what point MS contacted them (revenue size, customer base, etc). The response was that they were very small and the only thing that likely caught their eye was the space they were in. I would imagine it was a very good choice for MS.
If I learn any more I will post it here, since the first question is still largely unanswered (and likely will remain so).
EDIT - after a chat with a BizSpark One participant from MS:
I spoke to a MS employee today - he was introduced to us by a BizSpark One company that I hassled. It was a great call. Yes, MS is looking for companies that they can work with to build both companies. From what I can remember the criteria is something like this:
- look for best of breed companies or solutions to partner with
- look for companies that will benefit from the partnership from MS
- look for companies that are in a space that is related to MS strategic technologies
Each vertical has some managers and they each identify companies they want to consider, then the companies "pitch" (I think) and the group gets together to decide which ones MS should bring on board.
It seems like a great program - good for everyone involved. Getting MS to take notice means you will have to have a pretty compelling product/service for their platform(s).