Program details

Q: What is Startup with IBM (formerly IBM Global Entrepreneur)?
A: Startup with IBM 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 Startup with IBM, 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 up to $120,000 of free technology usage credits for one year to turn your learnings into real solutions.
  • Connect with the developer and startup community by attending exclusive meetups and events around technologies like Watson, IoT, Blockchain, open source and more. Our Premium tier offers opportunity to engage with IBM Developer Advocates through Architecture Review and Whiteboarding Sessions and more.

Q: What are the benefits of the program? And how does my company qualify?
A: Benefits of the programs are delivered across two different program levels – designed to support your technology and business roadmaps. Both levels provides startups access to free technology, developer tools, educational resources, technical support, to build and deploy cloud, mobile, analytics, artificial intelligence and other next-generation projects.
Program levels and eligibility:

  1. Builder level:
    • Technology: Build your solution using $1,000/ month for one year of credits on IBM Cloud (Platform and Infrastructure). Use these credits to host your solution, as well as, to add exciting services like Watson, Blockchain, Watson IoT and Security to your solutions.
    • A customized sign in page, that provides you links to everything you need to get started. Sign in here.
    • Educational Resources – access to a wide variety of online resources and training courses.
    • Technical Support – community based support from leading experts and fellow developers.
    • Promotion – Program participants may have the opportunity for exposure within IBM’s marketing materials, web sites, and presentations. Startups that have built cognitive solutions with IBM Watson are also now eligible to apply to the with Watson program.
    • Eligibility: i. must have been founded (if the applicant is a corporation, must have been incorporated) within the 5 years immediately preceding the application; ii. operate its own public website on their own domain; iii. provide a contact email address on its own domain; iv. must have less than US$ 1,000,000 in revenues during the 12 months immediately preceding the application; v. clients will not be accepted who are simply reselling hosting services; vi. IBM reserves the right to prioritize based on additional criteria.
  2. Premium level:
    • Technology: Scale your solution using $10,000/month of credits on IBM Cloud (Platform and Infrastructure) for one year. Use these credits to host your solution, as well as, to add exciting services like Watson, Blockchain, Watson IoT and Security. The additional credits also can help you easily configure bare metal GPU servers.
    • A customized sign in page, that provides you links to everything you need to get started. Sign in here.
    • Educational Resources – online resources and training courses.
    • Technical Support – community based support from leading experts and fellow developers. At the Premium level, startups are also eligible for help from IBM Developer Advocates, including architecture reviews and whiteboarding sessions.
    • Promotion – Program participants may have the opportunity for exposure within IBM’s marketing materials, web sties, external presentations, and advertising for IBM. Startups that have built cognitive solutions with IBM Watson are also now eligible to apply to the with Watson program.
    • Eligibility: Must meet the program’s Builder Edition eligibility requirements, plus the following: i. up to Series A-level funding ($5M max.); ii. must be working with an approved startup community partner (such as a VC, accelerator, or incubator); iii. IBM will contact the applicant to discuss additional factors necessary to determine eligibility for the higher credit.

Q: What IBM Cloud services are included within my usage credit?
A: A list of eligible IBM Cloud services are listed here. Third party services are not eligible for program usage credits.

Q: Where is this program geographically available?
A: The program is available in every country where IBM Cloud is offered.

Q: What is the process for a startup to terminate its participation in the program?
A: To terminate participation in the program, send your request to to confirm your desire to terminate participation in writing. All credit left as part of the program will be forfeited.

Application info

Q: What’s the process for joining the program?
A: Follow the prompt on the home page to apply. Once a Startup’s application is approved, they will initially be enrolled into the Startup with IBM Builder package, receiving $1K USD cloud credits per month for up to 12 months. Instructions on how to apply for our Premium level to receive up to $10K USD cloud credits per month can be found below.

Q: Why was my application declined?
A: In order to qualify for Startup with IBM, 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 Startup with IBM, or 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.

Q: If I have questions about my application, who do I contact?
A: Connect with us via for specific questions related to your program application.

Q: Why am I being asked to provide my credit card information in the application?
A: You will only be asked for your credit card information when applying to the Builder level. 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. The card will additionally be used to pay for any charges above and beyond your credit allocation.

Q: When and how will I be informed of my acceptance into Startup with IBM?
A: If a startup meets the necessary criteria, IBM will send an email advising you that you have been accepted.

Q: When should I apply to the Premium level?
A: Your member portal allows you to keep on top of your cloud usage. If you are currently utilizing over 50% of your credits, and/or preparing to scale-up your usage that will exceed the allotted $1,000/month, it might now be time to apply for Premium. Be sure that you meet the eligibility for the tier, and when ready, apply by going to your member portal and clicking on the Upgrade to Premium button.

Q: Is there a way to receive an extension to my 12-month credit period in the event I need credits for a longer period of time?
A: In rare cases, an extension of credits beyond the 12-month limit can be issued with a valid business justification and evidence that it is a worthwhile investment from IBM. If necessary, there is a link to an extension request form on your member portal at the bottom of the “Get help and connect” section.

Cloud credits

Q: Which cloud services can I apply my cloud credit towards?
A: 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.
The list of current IBM Cloud services can be found here.

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

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

Many Cloud IaaS 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 can be found here.

Q: What happens if I use more than my credit allocation for the month?
A: If the startup exceeds their monthly credit, you must pay for any usage and services consumed above the allowable monthly cap and will receive an invoice for any overage charges.

Q: Can I carry unused credits from one month forward to the next?
A: No. Credits are allocated on a month-by-month basis, and all unused credits for the month are lost.

Q: Can credits be carried past the 12-month membership period?
A: No. All unused usage credits are lost at the end of the 12-month period.

Q: Does the credit apply to third-party applications available in the IBM Cloud marketplace?
A: The credit applies to IBM services; however, it does not apply to third-party applications available in the IBM Cloud marketplace.

Q: Can I track my usage and will I be notified as I approach my limits?
A: 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. Once you have signed in to your Member Portal you can access these consoles to monitor your usage on both IaaS and Paas.

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

Q: Are startups who have already started paying eligible for Startup with IBM?
A: Credit cannot be applied to charges for cloud services that were used as a paying customer. Those who have had an IBM Standard Account or an IBM Cloud trial account and have not made any purchases from IBM for infrastructure and platform will still be eligible.

Q: What are the terms and conditions of the cloud credits should I be accepted?
A: 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.

Q: Does the Startup with IBM two-tier program level framework mean that I can reset my annual clock of credits if I am uplifted to a higher program level?
A: No. Once you have been accepted to Builder, the amount of time a startup has remaining in the Startup with IBM program (at Builder and/or Premium) stays the same—the credits will expire exactly one year to the date of your application.


Q: How do participants get access to technical support?
A: There are several ways to access program technical support. A comprehensive link to available Community Support, Technical Support, and Program Support can be accessed from your Member Portal:

  • For IBM Bluemix support for billing, account log-in and technical support, click here.
  • Note, 24/7 support is available via pop-up chat option on the right hand side of 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, ad pointers to essential docs complied Cloud, Data and Analytics and Artificial Intelligence patterns.

Q: How do participants get access to program support?
A: Connect with us via for specific questions related to your program membership, such as “what is the status of my application?”

Q: How do I schedule time with an IBM developer advocate?
A: Sign in to your custom portal, and when you go to the “Tap into IBM” community, you will be presented with a button to request the help you need.


Q: How can I use the developer patterns?
A: Everything you need to quickly solve real problems has been compiled into a developer pattern: architecture diagrams, one-click deployment, git repos, and pointers to essential docs. Check them out, and grab code to re-use in your own solutions


Q: How can I get included on the Startup Success Stories page?
A: We’d love to hear what you are working on. From your custom portal, you can click on a button to send an email to us to tell us your story. Be sure to tell us the problem you are solving, how you are solving it (through our technology, your technology, and 3rd parties) and what that means to your clients. We may then reach out to learn more, and identify how and where we can feature you.

Q: What is the with Watson program, and how do I apply?
A: The With Watson Program is an application verification program that, upon acceptance, provides varying levels of brand, marketing, and technical resources to developers that are embedding Watson technologies into their apps.

The program is targeted toward those that have built a cognitive solution that has client usage.