Our guest contributor for today’s blog is Jennifer Zarate, a Senior Communications Manager at Microsoft and host of the Microsoft Partner Innovation (MPI) Vodcast.

The Microsoft Cloud Partner Program represents a global community of partners — and it is through this broad diversity that we realize the greatest value for our customers. That is why our offerings are designed to foster supportive micro-communities for partners and move us all toward a more equitable industry. In today’s blog, we are excited to share valuable perspectives from two women-owned and operated ISVs on how to navigate and thrive within the Microsoft partner ecosystem as minority business leaders and founders.

Both our featured partners, Garnette Weber, CEO of Ethnomet, a division of itracks, a Canadian-based ISV, and Tammy McMiller, CEO of Plan Heal, a Microsoft for Startups Chicago-based ISV, talk about their experience as Microsoft partners and how they have leveraged company programs and resources to tackle critical healthcare challenges worldwide.

"My number one recommendation for other women-run businesses is ‘seize the support.’ Microsoft offers a treasure trove of programs, investments, and resources to help ALL startups succeed…Seize the support, and you have Microsoft as an ally in enhancing your brand, building your solution and accelerating it into the market, offsetting your startup costs, and providing you with a support network of like-minded entrepreneurs.” – Tammy McMiller, CEO, Plan Heal

Find your community

There is so much value in building relationships with other members of the partner community, be it with partners of similar capabilities, partners with other specialties, or Microsoft technical experts. Startup leaders can begin in Founders Hub, where you can grow at your own pace with tailored tools, guidance from business leaders and technical experts, and special offers from Microsoft partners. “The Microsoft team has been there to support solution architecture questions,” says Weber of her experience in Founders Hub. “I have benefited from access to mentorship sessions with key knowledge leaders.”

As you grow your business, we can connect you with additional communities and applicable resources. The Black Partner Growth Initiative, of which Plan Heal is a member, is one such initiative specifically designed to support Black tech companies and entrepreneurs and build one of the largest diverse partner ecosystems in the technology sector. There are a number of other partner-led communities available for you to learn more about the partner ecosystem, discover new tools and resources, and build relationships with other partners globally or locally. Visit the Microsoft Partner Community page to find the community that is right for you, join in ongoing discussions, and view upcoming partner events.

These spaces are invaluable for sharing expertise and forging the kinds of connections that will help you develop your solutions. McMiller tells us that having gotten to know the Microsoft ISV resource team members, they now feel like “a vested extension of our technical team.” Fostering these relationships also opens new possibilities to co-sell with Microsoft or team up with other partners for collaborative campaigns. Microsoft supported Plan Heal in finding and qualifying their first customer opportunities through co-sell partnership, helping them grow their business and widen their customer reach. To make sure you are reaching the right partners, be sure to self-attest as minority-owned or woman-owned business in Partner Center, as well as mark any other relevant certifications.

Leverage product benefits

Building your network with the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program grants you access to cloud benefits that are designed to empower modern solutions. McMiller says that “as an ISV, it is only the power of the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare that allows our team to build a powerful and intelligent platform to achieve [our] mission.”

Founders Hub comes with benefits that help you build on Azure and that grow alongside you. These include Azure cloud credits, free 24/7 Azure Standard Support, access to Microsoft tools and platforms, and Azure Technical Advisory Hours. Weber says that the Azure credit benefits were indispensable in enabling Ethnomet to “develop and test [our] solution cost effectively.”

Existing ISVs who are ready to extend their solutions and grow sales can now join the public preview of ISV Success, a tailored pathway in the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. ISV Success offers a core benefits package that includes a developer sandbox of cloud credits across the Microsoft Cloud, best-in-class developer tools (including GitHub and Visual Studio), and curated skilling and content for ISV application and publishing scenarios. Participants also receive technical advisory hours, architecture reviews, consultations to support their publishing in the Microsoft commercial marketplace, and access to communities and events. 

McMiller’s team leveraged their technical guidance engagements to inform the Plan Heal application architecture and solicit additional technical reviews for their solution. And when you’re ready to go to market, there are resources for that, too! “The go-to-market services have been extremely valuable as Microsoft team members have connected our team members to leaders in our target market to support deployment of our solution,” affirms Weber.   

Align your goals

Weber and McMiller represent organizations committed to advancing social good, a mission we celebrate through initiatives like  #BuildFor2030 — driving solutions that advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In fact, itracks was a #BuildFor2030 Hackathon 2022 winner in the Gender Equality theme. Congratulations!

Engaging with partner programs is a great way of growing your network, raising your profile, and making a meaningful impact. We look forward to recognizing the most outstanding successes and innovations by partners by announcing the winners of our annual Partner of the Year Awards later this month. We will also celebrate these achievements together with all our global partners at Microsoft Inspire 2023 on July 18-19. All partners are invited to join in this valuable community-building event, which will feature dedicated connection time on Day 2.

Thank you to these leaders for sharing about how they have “seized the support” of the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. Learn more about their solutions and growth journeys in our full conversation on the Microsoft Partner Innovation Vodcast:


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