The Future Will Include Microsoft

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I don’t mention Microsoft enough at Martech Zone. It’s really not excusable since the company has a huge footprint already. In talking to the COO of LiquidSpace, Doug Marinaro, and last week speaking with Josh Waldo, Microsoft is really making some incredible moves in laying a foundation with the Small Business owner. This investment early in the lives of companies is one that will pay off huge for Microsoft in the future.

Josh Waldo was the SMB (Small and Medium-sized Business) Customer and Solution Partner Marketing Director (He is now the Senior Director of New Markets and Emerging Channels at Microsoft). Josh shared some numbers with me that were startling… Microsoft’s spending $9.5 Billion (with a B) on research and development right now. Even more startling is that 70 to 90% of that budget will be centered around the cloud! Wow.

One example of how Microsoft is working with SMBs is BizSpark.

To help early-stage technology startups succeed with Microsoft software, BizSpark enables access to a community of partners around the world- all involved in supporting software-fueled innovation and the next generation of technology entrepreneurs.

Some of the partner companies are pretty amazing:

  1. Xero accounting, billing and banking software
  2. Gust – a place to create a startup profile and connect with 35,000 investors.
  3. Mopapp – an application to track sales across all mobile markets.
  4. LawPivot – a crowdsourced legal resource for businesses.
  5. oDesk – a site to connect with remote staffing resources for anything from development to customer service.

Not to mention organizations that are helping seed, support and launch startup companies as well. Right here in Indianapolis we’ve seen the success of one of these – Startup Weekend.
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Bizspark isn’t just connecting businesses to money, products or partners, it’s also working to help these companies with their training and marketing needs as well. Sign in and you’ll find an amazing list of events and resources right in your area to assist you with launching a successful business. Bizspark is also connecting students to business. Think about that… from student to startup to small business, Microsoft is giving businesses all the assistance they need. That’s quite a strategy!

liquidspace 225bOne of those businesses was LiquidSpace, a fantastic application that’s built on the Windows Azure platform. LiquidSpace is both a site and mobile application where mobile workers can find a space to work in, whether it’s free, available for a few hours, a day or more. The mobile application is location-enabled, so you can fly into a city and pop up available space in no time.

Companies and commercial property owners with room can post their availability on LiquidSpace. It’s free if the space is free. If the space costs money, LiquidSpace gets a percentage of the revenue. In speaking with LiquidSpace co-founder and COO Doug Marinaro, they joined BizSpark and quickly adopted the Azure platform. Within 6 weeks of funding, LiquidSpace was beta. Doug said the cost was less than his mobile phone bill.

LiquidSpace now has over 200 registered locations, mostly in California. The company now has 20 employees working remotely between Minneapolis to Minsk with a headquarters in Palo Alto. Doug said the best thing about the platform and working with Microsoft has been that he’s been able to focus on growing the business rather than worrying about technology. He’s confident the scalability of the Azure platform will affordably grow with the company for years.

More on the Microsoft Azure Platform:

If you’re privately held, less than three years old, making less than $1M US and developing software… you can sign up now for your BizSpark Membership.

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