I have gotten for free:
- A $250 monthly credit to run as many websites, cloud servers, VMs and web apps as I want. Thanks to Microsoft. Microsoft runs a startup support program called BizSpark which provides software and credits worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (that's millions of Naira) to businesses that are less than 5 years old. And merging that with the credits I get from my MVP award, I can start making cool money selling the excess cloud capacity I have. Even the BizSpark one that is available to all new businesses (no special requirement or award like the MVP one) is more than enough for the online needs of most businesses, and a lot of software needs too.
- Future Leaders Seminar worth up to a million naira. I applied for the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) Future Leaders Seminar. I wasn't picked, but a miracle happened and I got a slot. For free, by this month end, I will be hosted with over 2 dozen high achieving and visionary young Nigerians at the Epe Resort and Spa for 5 days and put through a life changing program that ordinarily will cost me up to a million naira. If I hadn't quit my job I wouldn't have applied or pushed for the miracle that got me selected.
- A free listing on VC4Africa. I know you might not take this as a serious benefit, but I have taken time out to read a lot about VC4Africa and the impact spread it has. Most people using the free listing don't have a sound idea of it's value. They just put up their venture and wait for an investor to show interest. For me, I'm not interested in finding an investor. I'm looking for contacts and a perfect product idea. And I have been getting some good ideas and contacts already. The online business community will soon explode in Nigeria, and now is the time to work my way into the center.
- The Windows 8 and Phone application development bootcamp. A four day event sponsored by Microsoft with good food provided. All for free. I have attended several free big company sponsored events before, but because I had a job or was schooling or it was the company I was working for, I never saw the real value in those events. Now that I'm on my own with no plan of getting a job, I've become more resourceful. I was 80% present and active during the bootcamp. I kept thinking of ways I could incorporate the knowledge into my bigger plan. And I'm already seeing the results. I got the push to rebuild my company website, www.urbizedge.com , using Microsoft's Visual Studio and move it to a superior hosting platform, Microsoft Azure. Now I have a company website I'm very proud of. And costing me nothing. I will be making web apps soon without the fear of paying for servers that will handle the numerous complex backend processes.
- I used one of the Software I got from Microsoft to design my company brochure.
- I'm now my own SEO and social media strategist. I set up my company's Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn pages. I have a good experience of what works and how to build a formidable online presence; thanks to the 5 years I've spent building my blogs (I have 5 blogs, surprised?), starting numerous online projects, and following the masters. Ever wondered why you don't see a Facebook or Twitter fan box on my blog? Or why I spend over $150 a year on daily email delivery of my blog posts when there are many free alternatives? Or why my blog is not mobile friendly? Well, when you've tried almost everything, you'll find out that logic sometimes can't explain success. You just have to find what works and stick to it, whether it makes sense or not. So I got a professional SEO strategist for free.