Original Post Date; September 9, 2008 (Now we know who is responsible for Excel!)
Every day there’s a new invitation to a network here in NYC. Some groups are “out of the wrapper, still have styrofoam peanuts in the nooks and crannies” new, others have been laboring online for years. Few have hit the sweet spot combination like The New York Tech Meet Up. Started only a few years ago, the numbers of registrants increases every year. In June 2009, the Meet Up had over 10,000 members. Held in the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT — gotta love it!) Auditorium, attendees listen to speakers from every aspect of application development.
I was pleased to see the presentation by Dan Bricklin, founder of the first spreadsheet, VisiCalc. Now a spreadsheet does not sound sexy, but think about how much can not be achieved without a cell to hold important information (Update: Here is an All Analytics post “Don’t Toss Out Excel Yet” that notes how far Excel plug-in development has come). Zimana’s business, along with many other analytics tools, business firms, consultancies and organizations, rely on the ol’ spreadsheet as a starting point for data analysis. This movement owes much to VisiCalc.
But Dan did not bore the audience with just column-and-row talk. His autobiographical book Bricklin On Technology covers the early days of his start up and serves as a window into the early days of the computer industry. Bricklin spoke to the New York Tech audience about entrepreneurship, how many people are looking for the pot of gold, but should just try to run a solid business. Says Bricklin, “You’ll end up in an nice home, just focus on what you love to do.” I personally like that statement!
One thing I have learned since being in NYC is that despite an image of high costs, free is everywhere if one looks carefully. Microsoft has made free an easier search, at least for software developers. Microsoft announced the BizSpark program, a business incubator where entrepreneurs can develop software or software-as-a-service (SaaS) using Microsoft servers and resources like Azure and Visual Studio. The 3 year program is a free to start ups, with a minor exit fee upon completion. During program membership, start ups will have access to Microsoft developers and associated partners, adding visibility to the start up and excellent advisory aid. Microsoft started the BizSpark program as a means for start ups to create software while reducing the initial development costs.
At a Microsoft Gallery, a short term loft display as part of NYC’s Internet Week, Brian Johnson, Start Up Evangelist at Microsoft, explained the conditions of program. Microsoft is offering the program for small businesses that has less than $1 millions in revenue, that has been in operation for 3 years or less as a privately held company, and that offers software as its core product offering.
As a small business I really appreciate the effort from Microsoft. They have made some really interesting efforts into small business support that is not heralded in the media often. Zimana, has used Office Live for hosting the company website (UPDATE: Officelive has been discontinued in 2012, replaced by Office 365, which has no free hosting.)