This month we’ve started doing some promotion of our three Spark programmes; DreamSpark, BizSpark and WebsiteSpark.  These are programmes created to help students, entrepreneurs, software start-ups, young web design companies and next Bill Gates’ get started. You might hear some radio advertising we are doing or you can have a look at our new one-stop Spark website.

Each of the programmes is designed for a particular audience; for example DreamSpark is for students who are building “their great idea” and want access to Microsoft professional development tools at no charge. WebsiteSpark is for small professional Web development and design companies who want some Microsoft platform proficiency to add to their portfolio. BizSpark is for software start-ups who are building the next big software company and want access to all Microsoft’s development tools and platform (including some server products available for use in production environments).

You can join BizSpark and WebsiteSpark via a partner (known as a Network Partner) or, if you haven’t decided to work with a partner yet, directly with Microsoft. The Network Partners in the programmes offer various services from hosting services right through to business mentoring, incubation, funding, strategic planning and combinations of these (depending on the programme and partner). It takes much more than just a good product idea or technical implementation to build a great software or web business so working with a Network Partner improves the odds of growing into a large and successful, New Zealand based, exporting-to-the-world software business.

Microsoft works with local Network Partners as well to provide training events for young BizSpark software companies, such as the Innovation Academy we ran recently at the e-Centre on the Massey University Campus. This training was delivered by the IISEIE and covered topics such as segmenting markets, software development processes, considerations for entering international markets, basic marketing and other introductory topics that software companies need to be thinking about. Based on the feedback we received from attendees, we are planning on running more of these in the near future.

We are also highlighting some of our local BizSpark businesses starting with the guys from Litmos. Litmos have developed an online Learning Management System that allows their customers to build and manage professional training courses themselves. Watch our video interview with Rich Chetwynd, founder of Litmos, as he talks about Litmos and BizSpark. I’ll post the Litmos Case Study we have recently completed in a separate post.

If you are a New Zealand based BizSpark start-up company and would like to be featured, contact me via the Email link on this blog.