For startups going to this year’s International Startup Festival in Montreal, July 10 to 13, Microsoft’s BizSpark tent is a space where they can receive free benefits and expert advice.
Microsoft has been a founding partner with the Startupfest, bringing along a number of companies with the Microsoft BizSpark program who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity. Senior technical evangelist Marc Gagne told Techvibes that these startups are able to demo their technology at BizSpark’s tent, and Microsoft couldn’t be happier.
“Our goals are really just about promoting entrepreneurship and the tech industry, and being there, meeting with the startups and seeing where we can help,” said Gagne. “One of our startups last year, Jintronix, won the top award for $50,000, so were hoping to give another opportunity like that to some other startups.”
The Microsoft Kinect-based Jintronix won top prize at last year’s festival, and creates Windows-based games that aim to make physical therapy and rehabilitation fun and affordable. BizSpark is hoping to replicate that success this year.
The Microsoft BizSpark program is an international network of entrepreneurial startups and partners now supporting over 50,000 companies in over 100 countries around the world. Its networking partners now number over 2,400 while over 30,000 entrepreneurs have “graduated” from the program.
For those entrepreneurs who sign up for a BizSpark membership, they’re entitled to free services for up to three years. These include software, cloud computing, support, access to network partners (including investors, mentors and fellow startups) and a community of peers—online, one-on-one, and at BizSpark events.
One of those events BizSpark is supporting is the International Startup Festival of course.
Along with the “tent village and expo," the four-day festival will also feature somewhere around 70 speakers, including general manager of startups at Microsoft, Rahul Sood. Sood founded Voodoo Computers in 1991 at the age of 18. Eventually, he moved on to Hewlett Packard as CTO of global gaming business. Following this he started Microsoft’s Bing fund for early stage startups. Since March 2013, Sood is responsible for heading up Microsoft’s global startups team.
Besides Sood, Startupfest’s Phil Telio has secured other big-name speakers including 500 Startups’ Dave McClure, Indiegogo’s Danae Ringelmann, TechStars’ Brad Feld, Just For Laugh’s Andy Nulman and many more.
This year’s festival features keynotes, roundtable discussions, tent expos, startup campfires, a pitch competition and nearly 1500 patrons. For Telio it’s about “putting a great emphasis on creating connections through physical space.”
Now in its third year, Startupfest has evolved from Telio’s “Startup Camps” of the past, which grew from 150 people to over 700. After three years the decision was made “on a whim” to create one of the startup world’s biggest up-and-coming attractions. Telio said he was sitting on a lake in early 2011, thinking to himself how he could top Startup Camp 7. “I just felt it was the thing to do,” he said. “The city was primed for it and the startup ecosystem around the world was primed to do it in Montreal.”
Designated trains and buses filled with patrons will be headed to Montreal from New York City, Quebec City, Ottawa, Halifax and Newfoundland. Additionally, two full trains will be coming from Toronto.
Meanwhile for one of Startupfest’s founding partners, Microsoft, the software giant continues to make inroads in the startup community.