Six Ways Startups Can Get the Most Out of Working with Microsoft
The following post was written by Microsoft ScaleUp Tel Aviv participant Nimrod Vax, Co-Founder and Head of Product at BigID
It was only a few short months ago, that BigID – officially began our participation in the Microsoft Accelerator (now ScaleUp) program in Tel Aviv. In that time, we learned a great deal about how we can scale our business.
Working with Microsoft was a natural fit for us. We have developed a solution that helps enterprises ensure compliance with the sweeping General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you don’t know what GDPR is, you should. It’s the new set of privacy protection regulations being applied across the European Union. Of course, the impact will be felt far beyond the borders of Europe as these regulations apply to any company that has European user data.
What is clear to us now is how much Microsoft has invested in helping startups connect with potential customers. Microsoft has unparalleled connections with enterprise customers and has built its startup program around a framework designed to streamline how startups can connect with these partners.
The details of these initiatives and offerings can be found in the recent announcement Microsoft shared about the program or in the tech media. What is important to me, however, is to provide some insights to my fellow startup entrepreneurs about how they can get the most from these programs.
So, I have provided some of my key insights that I took away from my experience with the various programs Microsoft offers to startups.
Start with the Azure Marketplace
A critical first step of working with the Microsoft ecosystem, is being available as a solution on the Azure Marketplace. This opens doors to working with all the various teams at Microsoft who can connect you with customers.
So it’s important to start thinking about this step as soon as you begin working with Microsoft. Fortunately, the team at ScaleUp and across the board at Microsoft offered us a great deal of support in getting set up on the marketplace.
Tap into the Corporate Access and Success Programs
For us at BigID, we have had a number of opportunities to work with two programs tailored to help startups connect with potential customers. The CAP (Corporate Access Program) and Success Management programs exist to connect startups with potential customers.
If you are coming on-board with one of the ScaleUp programs, or are exploring ways Microsoft can support your startup, look into these programs as they can provide you with a direct channel to meet with potential customers and the matchmaking process helps ensure the effectiveness and value of these connections.
Find Synergy with Potential Customers
When you are presented with your first opportunity to connect with customers, it’s super critical to find synergy with them and the wider framework of the startups program. What does this look like? In our case, our direct integration with Azure makes it much easier for Microsoft’s partners to become GDPR compliant.
In essence, this is a win-win-win scenario. So think of how you can position your business with the Microsoft enterprise sales team in a way that drives forward business objectives for your own startup, for your customer, and for Microsoft as well.
Hook-up with the Product Teams
The ScaleUp program provided a great list of mentors from various fields of expertise that can help startups. What we found most effective was to hook up with the Microsoft product teams that are close to our product area. In our case, it was the Azure Information Protection team, which helped us connect with important product beta programs for both information protection and Azure Marketplace support for container applications.
Get Inspired by Your Peers
One of the most rewarding elements of the startup program is getting the opportunity to meet and work with other startups, either in our batch at ScaleUp in Tel Aviv, or at the different events I have attended through the Startup program.
There is a lot you can learn from other companies and you can find mutual inspiration tackling the same set of challenges faced by companies at a similar stage of development. These include day-to-day startup dilemmas to more difficult challenges such as managing the relationship with your board.
Microsoft obviously has a strong presence in almost every market in the world, but the Startup program also has its own strong global presence with multiple ScaleUp locations and events taking place across the globe. I’ve had the opportunity to take part in events in London, Redmond, and most recently in Berlin at the recent CAP event that was held there.
The global focus and awareness of the Startups team is critical and you should look to leverage it for your business. As I explained previously, these global connections are critical for BigID as we prepare businesses for GDPR, but nearly any enterprise focused startup can benefit from this integration with the leading global markets.
At the end of the day, you will have to find the right focus for your startup. Partnering with Microsoft can open doors for your business and the vote of confidence you receive through the collaboration is critical as you work to secure enterprise level customers.