Microsoft has announced BizSpark. If you know what DreamSpark is, then you might guess what BizSpark is. I was really surprised myself - essentially unlimited free licenses of developer software and hosting software such as Windows, SQL Server and SharePoint. Yes, free Team Suite for everyone in the company! You must meet three criteria:
- Be a startup, less than 3 years in business
- Have not much revenue, less than a million a year (stricter in some markets, mostly in Asia)
- Be software developers, not consultants or resellers
You prove that you meet these criteria, not to Microsoft, but to a network partner. Ideally your network partner is more than just your gateway to free software, but someone who can advise and help you on the path to success. Since the network partner has to know a bit about you, not many will just email you a key if you email them. You can look through the partners on the BizSpark site and see who would be a good match for you to establish a relationship with. Be sure to get the user guide and read the FAQ as well.
Plenty of coverage of this elsewhere on the web:
So, if you fit the description and want the free software, what should you do? Go to the BizSpark site's Find a Network Partner page. A lot of them are venture capitalists and investment companies. If you were hoping to find such a firm, this is a cool way to know one that is in favour of your using the Microsoft platform and won't try to make you change development tools to get funded. If you weren't planning to work with an investor, scroll through looking for a firm that offers consulting and mentoring. You can send an email and see about working together. If you can't find a firm in your geography that looks as if it could help you, try a nearby geography. For example, I'm only listed under Canada, but Americans could engage with our firm too.