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IBM Global Entrepreneur equips you with the go-to-market support, business mentorship, services, discounts, technical guidance and networking opportunities needed to quickly bring your solution to market fast on the industry leading Cloud platform.

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What is IBM Global Entrepreneur?

IBM Global Entrepreneur is a unique program designed to connect startups to IBM’s global ecosystem of clients, partners, business leaders, and enterprise-grade technology.

Industry-leading program benefits include:

  • Up to $120K USD of IBM Cloud credits
  • Extensive global network of solutions architects
  • A leading vendor to offer go-to-market and mentor advice to entrepreneurs
  • Program currently includes the following IBM Cloud services:


  • Bare Metal, Virtual, and Hybrid Cloud servers
  • GPUs, CPUs, Bandwidth, storage, and more

    Bluemix, including:

  • Watson on Bluemix
  • Performance Management on Bluemix

    Where is this program geographically available?

    In every country where Bluemix and SoftLayer services are currently offered.

    What’s the process for joining the program?

    Startups should submit an application for IBM Global Entrepreneur. The application will be reviewed by IBM. Upon approval, the company’s submitter will receive an email notification from IBM with specific instructions on how to gain access to the program’s benefits and cloud services.

    Is my startup qualified to join?

    This program is designed for startup businesses. As such, to be eligible to participate, an applicant:

  • Must have been founded (if the applicant is a corporation, must have been incorporated) within the 5 years immediately preceding the application;
  • Must have less than $1,000,000 USD in revenues during the 12 months immediately preceding the application
  • Must not have been a paying customer of any of the covered IBM Cloud services prior to the application
  • To be eligible for participation at the US$ 10,000 per month level, must be working with an approved entrepreneurial community partner (such as a VC, accelerator, or incubator). Startups can contact their community partner to find out more.
  • Startup cannot be a prior Bluemix customer and use allocated cloud credit towards Bluemix. Similarly, startup cannot be a prior SoftLayer customer and use allocated cloud credit towards SoftLayer.

    IBM reserves the right to prioritize based on additional criteria.

    If I have questions about my application, who do I contact?

    If you have not yet heard back from a member of the IBM Global Entrepreneur team, please send an email to both: and with your question.

    Why am I being asked to provide my credit card information in the application?

    The application asks for your credit card information for identification verification. This process is designed to ensure sure that the information put into the form is accurate. Your card will be charged twenty-five cents and will be reimbursed.

    When and how will I be informed of my acceptance into IBM Global Entrepreneur?

    If an organization meets the necessary criteria, IBM will send an email advising you that you have been accepted, along with instructions on how to access your benefits.

    Is marketing support available for participants as part of the program?

    Startups may have access to IBM marketing promotion, increased visibility and connection opportunities with IBM global startup community partners, PR opportunities, and special events. In addition, IBM offers a wide range of marketing support for startups that are available to help identify new target industries, build campaigns, and get access to mentorship and digital media marketing.

    About IBM Cloud services available through this program

    Which cloud services can I apply my cloud credit towards?

    Bluemix is a Platform-as-a-Service, with access to over 100 services including Watson, Cloudant (non-dedicated) and Performance Management. The catalog of Bluemix services can be found here. SoftLayer is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service and credits can be used on dedicated servers, cloud servers, or a hybrid of both.

    What type of Bluemix services are NOT included as part of this program?

    Services that are in the IBM Bluemix Catalog that are sold separately are called “Reserved” or “Enterprise.” For example, you pay separately to “reserve a year of Enterprise Cloudant.” Within the catalog, when a user selects one of the “Reserved” services, a popup window informs the client that it must be purchased through sales.

    Due to the growth of IBM Bluemix, many IBM divisions are supplying services to Bluemix as well as supplying their existing services outside of Bluemix offerings.

    How does IBM determine how much cloud credit to allocate to my startup?

    Startups working with an IBM-approved VC, accelerator, or incubator are eligible to receive up to $10,000 USD in cloud credit per month for 12 consecutive months.

    Other eligible startups will receive $2,000 USD per month total ($1,000 USD per month of SoftLayer credit and $1,000 USD per month of Bluemix credit, which includes Watson, Cloudant and Performance Management on Bluemix).

    For participation at the $10,000 USD per month level, IBM will contact the applicant to discuss additional factors necessary to determine eligibility for the higher credit.

    For participation at the $2,000 USD per month level, acceptance or rejection will be based on the submitted information as verified by IBM.

    Decisions regarding participation in this program are made by IBM in its sole discretion. IBM may, in the interest of furthering the goals of the program as a whole, modify or waive eligibility requirements on a case-by-case basis.

    Will I lose my cloud credit if I do not use them in a given month?

    SoftLayer: Excess credits above actual usage in any month are lost. SoftLayer usage above the level of the available credits will be billed in accordance with the normal terms for that service.

    Bluemix: Excess credits above actual usage in any month are carried forward to the next month. Usage above the level of the available credits for Bluemix will be billed in accordance with the normal terms for that service.

    Can credits be assigned to future months be used now?

    SoftLayer: Credits are only available for use in the month they are assigned.

    Bluemix: Credits assigned for future months (if any are remaining) can be used in the current month. Billing for Bluemix services will only occur when the credits for the full 12 months have been used or if the client uses a service not covered by the Bluemix credits.

    How long can these services be used free of charge? What is the duration of the offering?

    Regardless of the program level, qualified services can be used free of charge up to the monthly usage credit cap by brand for up to 12 months. The duration of the offering for a startup company is 12 months.

    For SoftLayer, if the startup exceeds their monthly credit, the startup must pay for any usage and services consumed above their allowable monthly cap by brand and would receive an invoice for any overage charges.

    For Bluemix, the startup must pay for any usage and services consumed above their annualized benefit and will receive an invoice for any overage charges.

    Can credits be carried past the 12-month membership period?

    No. All unused usage credits are lost at the end of the 12-month period.

    Are there restrictions on how my startup uses the $120K USD across SoftLayer, Bluemix, or both? Is there a prescribed combination? Can all of the credits be used on one service?

    Startups who qualify will be provided either $10,000 USD or $2,000 USD maximum per month of free cloud usage credits. For clients approved at the $2,000 level, the client will receive fixed amounts of $1,000 of SoftLayer credit monthly and $1,000 of Bluemix credit monthly for the 12 months. For clients approved at the $10,000 level, the client is given the option of selecting how much of the credit they wish to receive on Bluemix and how much they wish to receive on SoftLayer. Once selected, that level of credit will be provided to each platform service monthly. If your startup has a need to change preselected platform allocations during the 12-month period, your IBM representative will have a review process for change requests for consideration on an individual basis.

    How can the previously selected platform allocation percentage be changed?

    If a startup needs to change pre-selected platform allocations during the 12-month period, they should contact their IBM representative who will have a review process for change requests for consideration on an individual basis. Only one change request will be considered during the 12-month period.

    Does the credit apply to third-party applications available in the IBM Cloud marketplace or Bluemix?

    The credit applies to Bluemix services; however, it does not apply to third-party applications available in the IBM Cloud marketplace.

    Can I track my usage and will I be notified as I approach my limits?

    Bluemix and SoftLayer provide tools to independently monitor and track usage throughout the month through the brands’ respective online user console tools. IBM will not notify the user during the month; the user is accountable to monitor usage on their own.

    At the end of the month, IBM will send you an invoice for payment due if the startup exceeds the monthly usage credit maximum.

    Are startups who have already started paying for SoftLayer, Bluemix, or both eligible for IBM Global Entrepreneur?

    Credit cannot be applied to charges for cloud services that were used as a paying customer. Those who have Bluemix trial accounts and have not made any purchases from IBM through Bluemix or SoftLayer will still be eligible.

    Clients approved at the $2,000 level but who have been previously been a paying client of one of the IBM Cloud technologies (either Bluemix or SoftLayer) will receive $1,000 per month credit on the Cloud technology they have not previously paid for.

    Clients approved at the $10,000 level but who have been previously been a paying client of one of the IBM Cloud technologies (either Bluemix or SoftLayer) will receive $10,000 per month credit on the Cloud technology they have not previously paid for.

    Client who have previously been a paying client on both Bluemix and SoftLayer are not eligible for this program.

    Are graduate companies of an IBM approved entrepreneurial partner (incubator, accelerator, VC, or IBM Global Entrepreneur member qualified for the higher level of benefits?

    Yes. As graduates of one IBM’s community partners, startups may be eligible for the $120K USD offer.

    What are the terms and conditions of the cloud credits should I be accepted?

    Participants accepted into the program will be provided with cloud usage credit. Except for the applicability of this credit, participant’s usage of the individual IBM Cloud services will be subject to the normal terms and conditions associated with that IBM Cloud service. For those IBM Cloud services that offer separately priced support offerings, part of the cloud usage credit will be applied to those support offerings.

    Upon acceptance into the program, the participant must identify to IBM:

  • (For clients accepted at the $10K level) The share of the available credit to be allocated to each IBM Cloud service (such as Bluemix or SoftLayer)
  • The IBM ID and email address associated with the IBM Cloud accounts to which the cloud usage credits will be applied.
  • Under the program, cloud usage credits are available on a monthly basis.
  • SoftLayer Catalyst members

    How does this new program relate to the IBM SoftLayer Catalyst partner program?

    IBM Global Entrepreneur is the now the only IBM program for startups. This new program extends the Softlayer Catalyst program with additional technical support and client linkage opportunities as well as the ability to access a greater breadth of offerings. The new IBM program enables our existing SoftLayer Catalyst members to both increase their SoftLayer footprint* and extend their use to IBM Bluemix and the many services it includes, while empowering new partners the choice to use either service.

    *If a startup joined the SoftLayer Catalyst prior to November 10, 2014 and is accepted into IBM Global Entrepreneur, the startup can extend the amount of Softlayer credits, however Softlayer credits will expire exactly one year to the date of your SoftLayer Catalyst application.

    IBM Global Entrepreneur is the single IBM program for startups and entrepreneurs. Since we have had prior programs such as Catalyst in the market, some aspects of those programs remain visible but we are now a single program and the single program offers access to the full set of resources (starting with SoftLayer and Bluemix but not necessarily limited to those two as the program expands over time.)

    If a startup is already a member of the IBM SoftLayer Catalyst partner program, can they apply to this program?

    This program extends the Catalyst program. Therefore, Catalyst members, who are not Bluemix customers today, are pre-approved for IBM Global Entrepreneur. To access all the program benefits and to start the usage credits, the startup must complete the program application and specify “Catalyst Member” in the field “Are you part of an incubator or accelerator?” and specify Bluemix as the benefit they are interested in receiving.

    If the startup is a graduate of the Catalyst program or a current SoftLayer customer, can they reapply for an extension of credits due to the offer increase?

    No. As with all businesses, IBM and SoftLayer continue to evolve. This offering is unique and new and is focused on teaching new startup companies about infrastructure, what it means to their business, and how to use IBM and SoftLayer’s best-in-market infrastructure and services. This is our new, incorporated, unified cloud offering for startups that will be fully integrated into the IBM Ecosystem over time.

    Does the announcement of IBM Global Entrepreneur as the only IBM startup program mean that I can reset my annual clock of credits?

    No. The amount of time a startup has remaining in the Catalyst program stays the same—the credits will expire exactly one year to the date of your application. However, the amount of credits received can be changed for whatever time remains in the Catalyst program.

    Is it possible to view the credits available on SoftLayer and Bluemix? Is there a function in place that will monitor the usage?

    For SoftLayer, the startup can see the current spending and available credit under your account tab in the SoftLayer Customer Portal. For Bluemix, the startup can monitor your spending and credit through the Bluemix user account page.

    For Bluemix, you can monitor your spending and credit through the Bluemix user account page.

    Will I have one point of contact for IBM Global Entrepreneur?

    Yes, the verification process will provide a single point of contact for SoftLayer and IBM Global Entrepreneur. That single point of contact may introduce others to fill a certain need but will remain the single point of contact.

    Technical support

    How do participants get access to technical support?

    Technical support for Bluemix can be funded through platform credits. Access this startups must request and sign up through a form provided upon program acceptance.

    SoftLayer support is available for free 24/7 via chat, phone, or ticket. Please visit to chat with a support specialists immediately.

    IBM Global Entrepreneur offers access to our own team of Startup Technologists, please reach out to your IBM contact for an introduction to the technologist in your area. Finally, startups will be able to schedule time at one of our global IBM Innovation Centers to access the resources provided by each center.

    IBM Cloud Advisors

    Is there someone available to assist on how to utilize IBM Cloud technology?

    IBM has a world-wide team of Cloud Advisors who can provide guidance on how to use IBM Cloud technology and how your solution will benefit from being on the IBM Cloud. To get contacted by a local Cloud Advisor, the following form should be utilized.

    Can a Cloud Advisor provide for help a technical problem?

    No. The Cloud Advisor team is focused on providing guidance on the use of IBM Cloud technology at a higher level. For technical issues, there are separate support teams for both Bluemix and SoftLayer who can assist.

    What is the process for a startup to terminate its participation in the program?

    To terminate participation in the program, contact your IBM representative and confirm your desire to terminate participation in writing. All credit left as part of the program will be forfeit.

    IBM’s commitment to entrepreneurs

    Why is IBM investing in entrepreneurs?

    Entrepreneurs are crucial for future proofing our business. Entrepreneurs are the golden ticket to market growth and innovation. Did you know that over $4.6B USD has been invested by VCs into Cloud Computing over the last year and that first quarter 2014 was the biggest funding quarter over the last 5 years? All of us need to court this important segment of the market. In short, startups are vital members of our ecosystem. Together, we join in new and dynamic ways to work with flexibility, agility, and speed to strengthen new markets like cloud, mobile, big data, and analytics.