Many startup companies hope for an experienced partner who understands their needs and can support them on their way to success. With its Global Entrepreneur Program, IBM wants to be that partner.
IBM launched the Global Entrepreneur Program in 2010 as an initiative to offer support and resources for startups. The program is specifically geared towards startups working on technology solutions and services.
– In today’s challenging economic environment, technology startups often struggle to bring new ideas to the market. We wanted to open our resources to these companies to help the next generation of entrepreneurs seize emerging business opportunities. With our technology and expertise, we can help startups grow and enter the market faster, says Heidi Lindegaard, the Nordic Leader of IBM Global Entrepreneur Program.
Free software, expert mentoring, and access to a global network
Startups can benefit from the Global Entrepreneur Program in many ways. First of all, they get access to IBM’s technology, expertise, and network. That means free software, support from technical experts, mentoring from corporate executives and serial entrepreneurs, and access to a global network of potential clients. Startups also get to participate in events to form important connections and get valuable visibility for their own solution.
Magick, a two-year-old Danish software company specializing in cloud-based financial trading systems finds the program very helpful. It has been competing at SmartCamps – events where startups can pitch their ideas and receive mentoring. SmartCamps are part of the Global Entrepreneur Program.
– SmartCamps offer lots of mentoring sessions but even outside them, the IBM staff goes above and beyond to help us grow our business. They’ve opened doors to relevant media both home and abroad, introduced us to potential business partners and much more. We work on cloud, security, and big data solutions, which are also IBM’s focus areas. IBM’s experts have been very supportive and they’ve helped us get the most out of their technology, says Mikael Breinholst, the CEO and Co-founder of Magick.
Magick has also been approved to IBM Cloud Entrepreneur Program, which is a new addition to the Global Entrepreneur Program. Eligible startups get to use IBM’s cloud solutions for a lower fee, or even free of charge for 12 months. Another addition to the program was introduced in January 2015, when IBM opened its Analytics software – royalty free for 18 months – to eligible participants of the program.
– We are getting access to world-class cloud computing from SoftLayer more or less for free, which is a big help to a cloud-based tech startup like Magick, says Breinholst.
Opportunities for Nordic startups
The Global Entrepreneur Program has participants from all corners of the world, including all Nordic countries. IBM works with approximately 6,000 startups.
– The Finnish startup community, for example, is taking off really fast. We would like to support these new entrepreneurs and help them grow with our strong, scalable solutions, says IBM’s Heidi Lindegaard.
SpaceMaker is a Finnish startup founded in November 2014. It is developing a software solution to address the needs of storage, logistics and postal companies. With the help of SpaceMaker’s solution, consumers can have storage containers delivered to their door, and once packed, delivered to a storage space. After that they can check the contents of their storage space anytime with their mobile phone and have any amount of chosen items delivered to them or have more items delivered to their storage space.
– Our first client is also an IBM client, and that prompted us to apply to the Global Entrepreneur Program. We are hoping that participation in the program and choosing IBM software will help us find new clients. IBM’s reputation as a reliable partner is a big plus. The program seems very promising, particularly once we move from the development and piloting stage to production, says Antti Hannula, Co-founder and Chairman of SpaceMaker.
Another Finnish participant is Big Data Solutions, a software startup founded in 2013. The company develops cloud-based analytics solutions and services for sales and marketing.
– New cloud-based services, like SoftLayer and Bluemix, are at the core if IBM Global Entrepreneur Program. They are the main reason we applied to the program, as we are working on highly scalable services. SoftLayer and Bluemix provide powerful platforms for our analytics solutions. We also hope to be able to provide useful feedback to help IBM with the development of their cloud services, says Saku Sell, Founder and Managing Director of Big Data Solutions.
Rapid application process
The Global Entrepreneur Program lasts for three years. Applicants should be privately owned and less than five years old. Their focus should be the development of a software-based product or service for corporate customers.
– The application process is very fast and easy. We are really dedicated to help startups boost their business as fast as possible, says Heidi Lindegaard.
– I warmly recommend the Global Entrepreneur Program to any startups that have an overlapping business model with IBM, in other words companies whose products revolve around cloud services, security, mobile services, analytics, big data, or infrastructure, says Mikael Breinholst from Magick.
Interested in IBM Global Entrepreneur Program? Find out more: ibm.com/isv/startup.