Growing up, your parents probably shared with you such age old adages as “nothing in life is free” or “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Your parents were (mostly) right. But there are times in life where you will come across exceptions to these generational nuggets of wisdom.

The Microsoft Imagine Fund is one of these exceptions…

The Microsoft Imagine Fund is a fund and school/accelerator designed specifically for student startups. Traditional accelerators offer resources in exchange for equity. We are breaking from that model to provide resources to a carefully curated group of young entrepreneurs – for free. Why? Because we’ve been around long enough to see (through previous Imagine Cup competitions) that the organic return on our investment in fostering an entrepreneurial culture in the student community can have a global positive impact.

More and more, students are helping define the next generation of business innovation and we want to empower you to participate in this opportunity. We believe we’ve created an experience that is unique to the student startup mentality and journey. We are keenly aware of the challenges and risks that young startups face, and we are excited to launch the Imagine Fund to help you along this path.

The new fund, which launches today, will select top student startups to participate in a 10-week long immersive student startup school. Accepted teams will receive training on building great apps on the Microsoft platform, identifying a minimum viable product, pitching investors, 1:1 mentorship from successful entrepreneurs and industry leaders, as well as the inclusion in the Microsoft Imagine Fund community of technical evangelists and startup experts, and $10,000 USD in seed money.

Founded in 2003, the Microsoft Imagine Cup brings together young technologists worldwide to help resolve some of the world’s toughest challenges. The Imagine Fund was inspired by overwhelming interest in technology entrepreneurship and student startup ventures coming out of this global competition.

If you’re selected, you should consider calling your parents and engaging them in a philosophical conversation about situations where lunch *is* in fact free. With the only strings attached those meant to help you succeed. Think of us as your personal student startup support system. Our mission is to promote a culture of entrepreneurial enthusiasm and technical aptitude among the future technology rock stars of America.