What is IBM Global Entrepreneur?

IBM’s Global Entrepreneur Program is the single IBM program designed to provide startups access to up to $120,000 of technology usage credits, leading experts and enterprise-grade Cloud, Data, IoT, Blockchain and AI technologies to help solve real problems and ultimately help get their innovative products to market faster.

IBM is committed to helping technology startups realize their goals on their own terms and in the shortest amount of time. Through IBM Global Entrepreneur, IBM’s goals are to help you:

  • Build skills to help imagine the art of the possible with how-to tutorials and courses on IBM tools and open standards technologies for all phases of your app development lifecycle.
  • Launch new cognitive solutions with access to trials and receive up to $120,000 of free technology usage credits for one year to turn your learning into real solutions.
  • Scale your business with the help of our extensive network of IBM partners and clients, giving you access to new markets, clients, and distribution channels.
  • Connect with solution architects, researchers, fellow developers, and IBM expert developer advocates in Watson, IoT, Blockchain and more – no matter what stage you’re in.

What are the benefits of the program? And how does my company qualify?

Benefits of the programs are delivered across three different program levels designed to support your technology and business roadmaps. Each level provides developers access to free technology, developer tools, educational resources, technical support, and the ability to build and deploy cloud, mobile, analytics, artificial intelligence, and other next-generation projects.

Program levels and eligibility:

Builder Edition

  • Technology: $1,000/month for one year of cloud usage credits on IBM Cloud (Platform and Infrastructure).
  • Program Support: Community-based support.
  • Educational Resources: Online resources and training courses.
  • Technical Support: Community-based support from leading experts and follow developers.
  • Promotion: Program participants may have the opportunity for exposure within IBM’s marketing materials, websites, internal and external presentations, and advertising for IBM.
  • Eligibility:
    • Be actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business – this software must be owned, not licensed, by the startup.
    • Must not have been a paying customer for all of the covered IBM Cloud services prior to the application.
    • Decisions regarding participation in this program are made by IBM in its sole discretion.
    • IBM may, in the interest of furthering the goals of the program as a whole, modify or waive eligibility requirements on a case-by-case basis.
    • Must have been founded (if the applicant is a corporation, must have been incorporated) within the 5 years immediately preceding the application.
    • Operate its own public website on their own domain.
    • Provide a contact email address on its own domain.
    • Must have less than US$ 1,000,000 in revenues during the 12 months immediately preceding the application.
    • Clients will not be accepted who are simply reselling hosting services.
    • IBM reserves the right to prioritize based on additional criteria.

Premium Edition

  • Technology: $10,000/ month for one year of cloud usage credits on IBM Cloud (Platform and Infrastructure).
  • Program Support: Community-based support.
  • Educational Resources: Online resources and training courses.
  • Technical Support: Community-based support from leading experts, follow developers, and IBM Developer Advocates.
  • Promotion: Program participants may have the opportunity for exposure within IBM’s marketing materials, websites, internal and external presentations, and advertising for IBM.
  • Eligibility: Must meet the program’s Builder Edition eligibility criteria, plus the following:
    • Up to Series A-level funding ($5M max.).
    • Must be working with an approved entrepreneurial community partner (such as a VC, accelerator, or incubator).
    • IBM will contact the applicant to discuss additional factors necessary to determine eligibility for the higher credit.

What IBM Cloud services are included within my usage credit?

A list of eligible IBM Cloud services is available. Third party services are not eligible for program usage credits.

Where is this program geographically available?

In every country where IBM Bluemix is offered.

What’s the process for joining the program?

Startups should complete their signup for IBM Global Entrepreneur. Their 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 no-charge cloud services. Once you are ready to expand beyond the Builder package, use the program portal to apply to the premium level to receive $10k USD cloud credits per month, as well as additional benefits.

Why was my application declined?

In order to qualify for IBM Global Entrepreneur, the startup must:

  • Be actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business – this software must be owned, not licensed, by the Startup.
  • Operate its own public website on their own domain.
  • Provide a contact email address on its own domain.
  • Meet the additional eligibility requirement associated with each program level.

If your company does meet the eligibility requirements, your application still may be declined for one of the following reasons:

  • Eligible startups must have a core foundation growing their own intellectual property as a standalone service or solution. If your company specializes in consulting, it does not qualify.
  • Your startup is already enrolled in IBM Global Entrepreneur, or the startup has already participated in the program.
  • Your website is non-functioning.
  • Your contact email address is not from your company’s domain, or is from a free email service.
  • The company description is incomplete or provides too little information.
  • The contact email address domain does not match the company URL.
  • Suspicious activity is detected.

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

Please email us for specific questions related to your program membership.

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.

Which cloud services can I apply my cloud credit towards?

The credits are applied toward the client’s total IBM Cloud usage for Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service.  IBM Cloud Platform-as-a-Service includes access to over 130 services including Watson, Cloudant (non-dedicated) and Performance Management. IBM Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service credits can be used on dedicated servers, cloud servers, or a hybrid of both. You can view the list of current IBM Cloud services.

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

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

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

Qualified services can be used free of charge up to the monthly usage credit cap for up to 12 months. The duration of the offering for a startup company is 12 months. If the startup exceeds their monthly credit, the startup must pay for any usage and services consumed above their allowable monthly cap and will receive an invoice for any overage charges.

Many Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service servers must be ordered and configured.  The charge for these servers is made at the beginning of the billing period against the credits.  Additional information about services is available.

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.

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?

Tools to independently monitor and track usage throughout the month through online user console tools are available. 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 eligible for IBM Global Entrepreneur?

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

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:

  • The IBM ID and email address associated with the IBM Cloud account to which the cloud usage credits will be applied.
  • Under the program, cloud usage credits are available on a monthly basis.

Does the announcement of IBM Global Entrepreneur three-tier program level framework mean that I can reset my annual clock of credits if I am uplifted to a higher program level?

No. The amount of time a startup has remaining in the IBM Global Entrepreneur program stays the same—the credits will expire exactly one year to the date of your application.

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

Usage is displayed in two areas:

  • For the Bluemix platform usage go to bluemix.net; log into your account and go to the “Account” link to see your usage and available credit.
  • For Bluemix infrastructure usage go to control.softlayer.com; log into your account and go to the “Account Billing” link to see your usage and available credit.

How do participants get access to technical support?

There are several ways to access program technical support:

  • IBM Bluemix support for billing, account log-in and technical support. 
  • Note, 24/7 support is available via pop-up chat option on the right hand side of Bluemix.com or call +1 866.398.7638 (Bluemix PaaS) or +1 866.403.7638 (Bluemix IaaS). Asking to open a ticket will ensure results.
  • Get connected with your fellow developers via blogs, forums, developerWorks TV and Developer Centers – providing you access to IBM experts and developer communities built around IBM products and technologies.
  • IBM Code provides architecture diagrams, one-click deployment, git repos, and pointers to essential docs related to Cloud, Data and Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Journeys. It also allows you to request a conversation with one of our developer advocates.

How do participants get access to program support?

There are several ways to access program support:

  • Global Entrepreneur dW Answers is a forum based support community addressing your FAQs.
  • Email us specific questions related to your program membership, such as “what is the status of my application?”

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

To terminate participation in the program, send your request to confirm your desire to terminate participation in writing. All credit left as part of the program will be forfeit.