By Ed Buchholz, CEO, Confer

Starting a company is a lot of work. Just ask any of the seven companies that attended Microsoft’s SharePoint 2010 SocialFest last week. With solutions ranging from enterprise micro-blogging to email integration to business intelligence, these companies assembled with the goal to build the next great SharePoint integrated application.

My company, Confer [], provides enterprise communication tools and attended with the intention to build our first SharePoint integration points. Being a technology startup, we’re used to working our tails off, and the event went right along with that mind-set. SharePoint 2010 SocialFest was a five day marathon of training, developing, discussion, and general hackery culminating in pitches to a group of top-tier venture capitalists, SharePoint product team members, and MSFT executives.

SharePoint 2010 is in beta, so we have been incredibly fortunate to have product stakeholders and technical evangelists working shoulder-to-shoulder with us. Traveling from Mountain View, Redmond, and beyond, they’ve been available to answer questions, provide feedback, and relate deep insights into upcoming features, fixes, and programs.

We’re a young company and our product is built entirely on Microsoft technology, so SharePoint 2010 SocialFest has given us a great platform from which to launch our SharePoint integration and get our larger Microsoft integration roadmap rolling. Microsoft’s BizSpark program has also been instrumental by providing no-cost software licenses and access to Microsoft staff members and resources. It’s clear that Microsoft is deeply invested in helping startup companies develop and thrive utilizing their technologies.