This was originally authored by Charlotte Yarkoni, Chief Operating Officer, Cloud & AI and published on the Official Microsoft Blog.
At Microsoft, we aim to create and maintain a healthy ecosystem where our partners and customers can thrive. Startups play a pivotal role in a thriving ecosystem given their outsized ability to push the entire ecosystem forward. Despite being vital to innovation and growth, by some estimates, over 90% of startups will go out of business in their first year.
With this in mind, we set out to better understand what startups need to be successful, especially when just getting started. Based on real-world feedback from thousands of entrepreneurs from around the world, across a range of backgrounds, we are excited to unveil, Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub. Open to anyone with an idea, the platform is designed to address the most common challenges startups face.
Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is centered around three key areas:
Unlocking innovation for all: The platform eliminates traditional barriers founders face when getting started, such as venture capital requirements or third-party validation to help any founder regardless of background, location or access be successful.
Technology benefits that grow: Keeping pace with a startup’s lifecycle, the platform helps founders speed development with free access to GitHub and the Microsoft Cloud with the ability to unlock additional benefits over time. To address the unique needs of startups, we are also partnering with innovative companies like OpenAI, a global leader in AI research and deployment, that develops AI systems such as GPT-3 and Codex to provide startups with exclusive benefits and discounts.
Access to mentorship and guidance: Becoming a founder is no longer about “who you know.” Through the platform, startups can connect with industry veterans, access tailored startup-centric training and innovate quickly with expert technical guidance.
Unlocking innovation for all
With Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub, we envision a startup ecosystem that is open to all – from idea to exit. To that end, unlike others in the industry, we don’t require startups to be “investor-backed” to sign up and access benefits.
“Our ambition is to make the global startup ecosystem more representative of the world at large regardless of background, location, progress or passion,” said Jeff Ma, vice president, Microsoft for Startups. “As an experienced founder, access to a diverse network – to validate ideas, get advice and coaching – was instrumental in my success and is something we aim to provide to every founder through the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub.”
Technology benefits that grow
Founders consistently share that the startup journey is unpredictable and filled with uncertainty. We want to provide flexibility for startups to work with Microsoft as they shape their businesses. With the platform, startups can build their businesses at their own pace with up to $150,000 of Microsoft Azure. As usage increases, founders can unlock additional credits over time. For instance, if a founder is in the “Ideate” stage and is developing a prototype we will provide $1,000 for one year. If the startup utilizes those credits in a few months, they can request more from within the platform and we will move them up to the “Develop” stage at $5,000 for one year.
The platform provides free access to over $100.000 in powerful development and productivity tools including GitHub, Microsoft 365 and more.
“Navigating the headwinds of building a startup can be challenging – from focusing on innovation and connecting with investors to finding product market fit,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud + AI, Microsoft. “Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub meets founders where they are, offering best-in-class developer tools and a breadth of cloud offerings across every function, so startups can reduce costs and accelerate development with a partner they can trust.”
Also, today we are unveiling an exciting partnership with OpenAI, an AI research and deployment company whose mission is to ensure general-purpose AI benefits all of humanity. Together we will provide founders with exclusive access to $1,000 of credits, three free months of an OpenAI API Innovation License and free consultation with an OpenAI expert. Founders can start building new products with OpenAI’s API which offers access to one of the most advanced language-based AI models in the world, GPT-3.
Access to expert guidance and skilling resources
Successful founders have shared that access to coaching and advice is a key factor in hitting their next milestone. Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub connects founders with industry veterans and access to startup-friendly training technical guidance including Microsoft Learn, Microsoft’s comprehensive learning and skilling platform.
Technical support: Startups can join 1:1 technical advisory sessions and access 24/7 technical assistance.
Network and connect: Connect and network with hundreds of experienced mentors in the Microsoft Mentor Network for access to expert feedback and advice.
Startup-centric training: Founders can access self-led learning, events and content addressing the unique needs of startups.
To anyone with an idea, we want to help you make it a reality. Sign up and start building on Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub today.