It’s not easy running a startup. Yet more creators and founders are joining the fray than ever before. Thanks to the Great Resignation and working from home, we no longer want to park our ideas on the shelf; it’s time to take action. Welcome to one of the most incredible programs we have ever witnessed: Microsoft for Startups. This program is open to anyone with an idea. As a startup founder, you can unlock so many free benefits, valuable credits, and even access to business and technology experts, completely free of charge.
Getting started is easy. In this article, we reveal the suite of benefits, apps, and credits you will have access to immediately upon approval. We’ll be sharing our personal experience as founders of PodIntelligence, an AI-powered micro content creation tool for webinars and tutorial creators.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
What is Microsoft for Startups?
Microsoft for Startups is a program and initiative launched by Microsoft to support and empower startups around the world. The program offers a variety of resources, tools, and benefits to help early-stage companies grow and succeed.
Here are some key components and features of Microsoft for Startups:
- Access to Technology (Microsoft tools among others)
- Co-Selling Opportunities
- Technical Support
- Business and Sales Support
- Networking and Connections
- Credits and Discounts
- Azure Marketplace Integration
- Startups with Social Impact
AI Video Tutorial
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Free credits to scale your business with AI
Although Microsoft for Startups isn’t about throwing cash at you, they offer something even more powerful and scalable for creators and founders like you and me. Let’s take a look at their generous credits and offerings:
- Build with AI from day one with $2,500 of OpenAI credits and up to $150,000 of Azure credits to use across Azure AI services. Note: Some the Microsoft and OpenAI emails and web pages that talk about this benefit say it’s for GPT 3.5 and some suggest it’s for GPT 4.0. We were psyched to find out upon approval, that as of December 2023, the OpenAI credits are for GPT 4 and related API’s.
- Automate feature implementation with free access to Azure OpenAI Service, including GPT-4*, ChatGPT, and DALL·E 2 for every level of expertise. (*GPT-4 currently available by waitlist only)
- Deploy with peace of mind, knowing all deployments are secure and backed by Microsoft’s principles for responsible AI.
- Receive guidance from experts by pairing with Microsoft Azure technologists and business specialists.
Free access and discounts to Microsoft tools and platforms
As part of Microsoft for Startups, you can access a suite of Microsoft products for free, or with deep discounts. For example, obtaining software and services like Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365, GitHub Enterprise, Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Power Platform for free or at significantly reduced costs can result in substantial savings for startup founders. The potential savings can vary widely based on the size of the startup, the number of users, and the specific services utilized. We are talking about hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars worth of savings for founders.
The number of benefits is too long to list. Take a look at the image below, you can click on it to enlarge and see more details.
Free access to expert guidance to grow your startup
Perhaps one of the most valuable and incomparable advantages of Microsoft for Startups is the ability to access 1:1 advisory and subject matter experts (SME). Here’s what they mean:
- Access 1:1 technical advisory with expert engineers at any stage to get help across a range of topics, including learning the latest in AI, choosing the right products, optimizing infrastructure, reducing costs, boosting performance, and road mapping.
- Access and learn from subject matter experts, successful former founders, and venture capitalists from M12 who can provide unlimited 1:1 guidance on topics including industry best practices, scaling your organization, go-to-market strategy, fundraising, and much more.
How to apply for Microsoft for Startups
If the program sounds like a fit for you, getting started is really easy. Plus, Microsoft for Startups offers a lot of tutorials and helpful tips to make onboarding a breeze for you and your team. The program is open to all!
- Apply through this link: https://foundershub.startups.microsoft.com/signup
2. Log in using your LinkedIn account, and follow a simple questionnaire to provide your startup’s information.
Microsoft for Startups approves applications rather quickly. We heard back in days (not weeks). Our developers were immediately able to access benefits including free Azure credits.
Our experience as founders behind PodIntelligence.com
My partner Adam Leffert and I, cofounders of PodIntelligence, have been working on our product since early 2022. Because we are a self-funded startup, we don’t have a big marketing budget and have to rely on word-of-mouth and our existing web presence to attract new leads. In addition, we offer free trials to new users to experiment with our product, which can be expensive over time. Microsoft for Startups offers generous Azure credits that allow us to not only experiment with more feature development in-house but also allows us to provide more free trials to potential buyers.
There are too many benefits to name. Another one we want to shout out is free credits for LinkedIn ads. LinkedIn ads have proven to be most effective for business applications, but it’s also pricer than other options (Google ads, Facebook ads, etc.). If you haven’t experimented with LinkedIn ads, these free credits are perfect for you to experiment to test things out. Good luck driving free leads and downloads!
Helpful Tip: Don’t redeem all your benefits at once
As exciting as it is to click on every “redeem” button and take advantage of the Microsoft for Startups benefits, we advise you redeem a few at a time and only as you have time to explore and fully benefit. This is because most of them do have an expiration date (6-12 months from when they are first redeemed).
This is also true about the different “Levels” you can unlock as part of the Microsoft for Startups program. Don’t rush yourself in moving between levels as each unlocks a new set of benefits that can expire. In short, use what you need before moving on to the next level.
Conclusion: should you apply for Microsoft for Startups?
OMG yes! There’s no downside in trying out Microsoft for Startups. It’s 100% free and anyone can apply. I wish more founders had discovered this program on their own, and hence we are taking the time to write this article and share our authentic experience with you all. This article is not sponsored by Microsoft or Microsoft for Startups.
We hope you will consider checking out this program, and share your unique experiences with us i the comments below. Better yet, share this article and your learnings on social media, and LinkedIn and invite other creators and founders to join us.
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