Hewlett-Packard extended its ecommerce reach on Monday by announcing a program to fund internet startups for as much as $US2 million.
Under the HP Garage Program banner, HP will require any company seeking funding to have at least $250,000 in capital and a legitimate business plan.
As part of the new program, the company will offer a number of new services beyond hosting. The Garage Program will offer help in locating venture capital funding, marketing services through HP's co-marketing relationship with Corporate Yahoo, and help and technology to build a website.
The Garage Program adds $500 million to the $1 billion HP committed last December to its investment program, and increases the original $1 million financing for qualified dot-coms to $2 million.
Although $2 million is well below typical dot-com startup costs, the funds are actually targeted at financing for so-called "business essentials", with a six-month deferral of payment plan. Essentials include hardware, such as HP 9000 NetServers, security storage, software consulting, support services, and training.
The company hopes to seed 1000 companies per year, according to Nigel Ball, general manager of Hewlett-Packard's e-services partner division.