With millions of new businesses started by Black founders, it’s more important than ever to connect visionaries in our community with the resources to turn ideas into profitable opportunities. 

Microsoft has created a solution to empower more startup founders at any stage with tools for success. Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is a digital platform to connect startup founders with the resources, mentorship and tools to go from product ideation, to launch, to long-term expansion. Equipped with free Microsoft tools, platforms and resources, founders can design businesses and products that run more efficiently from the ground up.

Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is democratizing innovation to help create a startup world that reflects the world around us by being open to all. By offering resources and tools, Founders Hub is leveling the playing field by giving more Black founders the opportunity to be successful without needing personal connections to Silicon Valley. Here are our 7 Keys to Building a Successful Startup with Microsoft for Startups:

  • Come As You Are

All it takes is one idea to become a startup founder. While most startup programs require founders to be “investor-backed” to receive benefits, the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub has no funding requirements and truly meets founders where they are in their journey. That means one less barrier to overcome. Entrepreneurs who’ve been traditionally underserved can utilize its tools and network–and that’s a game changer. 

  • Research the Market

Creating a successful product starts with understanding the problem you are solving and thoroughly understanding your ideal client through market research. Start your market research with Microsoft’s online resources to expand your skill set, learn more about running a business and understand your industry at a higher level. With easy access to free, online content, Microsoft connects founders with quality business education without the typical barriers to entry.

  • Seek Mentorship 

No founder is self-made. Becoming a successful startup founder means finding expertise and solutions through mentorship in order to avoid making costly mistakes along the way. The Microsoft Mentor Network, one of the most exciting features on the Founders Hub platform, provides founders with access to mentorship for expert insight and feedback on topics ranging from product roadmaps and business strategy to planning your next launch.

  • Increase Efficiency with Innovative Tools

Create a more efficient, cost-effective and productive startup from the very beginning with the right tools to run your business. Microsoft for Startups provides founders with free access to its best development and productivity tools to create more efficient daily operations. Don’t worry about the learning curve. There are plenty of online resources to help you and your team transition with ease!

  • Carefully Select Your Cloud Platform

One of the biggest security measures a startup can take is selecting a trusted cloud platform to store valuable data that adheres with compliance protocols and protects startups from potential data breaches. With access to up to $150,000 in Azure credits, founders can build their business on a cloud platform trusted by corporations, governments and other startups. Azure can streamline products, services and third-party applications to a central location for secure and compliant management. Founders can join the over 95% of Fortune 500 companies that trust their business on Azure.

  • Find Trusted Solutions to Address Pain Points

Because there are so many products on the market to address the challenges of setting up a business, it could be difficult to figure out which product is the best fit for your operations. Save your technology team thousands of hours of product research by finding solutions for your business with Microsoft’s Trusted Partner Benefits. Select from a list of vetted service providers and take advantage of exclusive offers for software services, discounts, free credits and more.

  • Invest in the Technical Support and Guidance Your Team Needs 

It is crucial to provide your development team with support as they build your product, but not every startup has the means to invest in these services. As members of the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub, startups have access to 24/7 technical assistance including access to technical experts who can help consult 1:1 across a range of topics. Their experts can answer questions about building your tech stack, provide advice on building your prototype and even provide long-term support for successful cloud adoption and troubleshooting.

Don’t sleep on that next startup idea — follow your business vision with Microsoft for Startups. With the power of the internet, it’s easier than ever for Black founders to take a solution and create a thriving business. Sign up for the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub platform in minutes and bring your next great idea to life!

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Microsoft for Startups.