Agilewords Blog

Meeting with Microsoft BizSpark San Francisco

Microsoft BizSpark

Ever wonder how some startups get the resources they need to move forward that bit faster?

Take a look at Microsoft. For many, it’s synonymous with Windows, Office, and Xbox. But what you probably don’t know is that Microsoft also runs BizSpark, a program focused on fast-tracking startups with the technology and resources they need.

How Bizspark Helps Startups

For startups, the BizSpark program offers many benefits:

  • Free Software
  • Access to Specialists – BizSpark connects you with Microsoft technology specialists who can help you with application development
  • Partner Network – BizSpark has a network of partners that offer discounts to help your startup get off the ground, for example, Rackspace, our ISP, belongs to this program – still trying to get that discount they promise on their web page, anyone from Rackspace out there?
  • Promotion - They also actively promote BizSpark startups, which is invaluable for companies like ours working on a shoestring marketing budget

As a collaborative solution for Word documents, Agilewords joined Microsoft’s BizSpark program to leverage the technical and business benefits it offers. After all, there’s not many companies like ours building web applications that extend the use of Microsoft products. Xobni is one of them – they provide a plugin for Microsoft Outlook.

Using Bizspark for Strategic Direction

We’ve been member of BizSpark for over a year now. I recently had a chance to meet for coffee with Joel Franusic from the BizSpark team in San Francisco. I took Joel to the roof terrace of Croker Galeria, a charming place with flowers, circular benches and planter that provides a unique view on the Financial District.

One question we keep hearing at Agilewords is how to improve the integration between our product and Microsoft Word; after all, we’re not an online editor – we’re extending the collaborative capabilities of Microsoft Word.

Joel tried our product and understood how Agilewords would be ideal for businesses that need collaborative review and editing solutions for their clients.

He suggested we develop a plug-in for Microsoft Word to facilitate the publishing of Word documents to Agilewords.

Right now you need to go to your Agilewords client space to publish new or modified versions of your document. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do it in a click from MS Word? It’s just that there are so many versions of Word we’d have to support…

We also discussed about the new cloud-based products Microsoft recently launched or may be pushing soon:

However, the question remains: will Microsoft allow third-party products to integrate with its products?

Google followed this open strategy and it’s worked great for them so far!

Independently of Microsoft’s cloud strategy, it’s clear that businesses are seeking online alternatives to improve client collaboration on business documents.

Some feel that Google Docs provides the answer; it excels in casual collaborative writing scenarios –brainstorm ideas, group assignment work in universities, or drafting documents for your association.

But it falls short when you need more structure, control, and an effective workflow for your document collaboration.

For example… one of our clients recently tried Google Docs. His team could not figure out how to track document changes and get other members’ approval before sending the final version to their client.

They eventually downloaded a MS Word version of the online document to send it by email, only to realize that the formatting used in their business template had been corrupted in the process.

As you can guess, Joel had a good laugh when I told him this story!

Joel and I agreed that Agilewords would have simplified the integrating of applications in its eco-system.

Next Steps

The next step for us is to decide Agilewords’ first integration.

If you have the final say, what would you pick? Microsoft Office, SharePoint, or Google Apps? Or something else?

Please share your thoughts below.

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    Agilewords 101: Make online edits and track document changes Watch this video

  • Agilewords 101: Invite collaborators to review a document

    Agilewords 101: Invite collaborators to review a document Watch this video

  • Teresa Mulvihill


    I think an integration with MS Word would make sense for document authors.

    In Office 2010, you can publish a blog post from MS Word directly to your WordPress account. A similar feature may benefit Agilewords users.


  • ivanwalsh


    Good point Fabrice.

    It falls short when you need more structure, control, and an effective workflow for your document collaboration.

    What I like about Agilewords is how fast our team was up and running and also how it simplified our doc sharing process.

    Catch you in the new year.



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