How does AWS support startups?

AWS has long supported startups. “It’s a very long-term mission. We’ve been working with startups at AWS since the very beginning. The first services launched in 2006 were for startups, and so we have this rich DNA and history of supporting these customers that remain very important to AWS today. The team is here to support their success,” explained Kellen O’Connor, the General Manager of the AWS Business for Startups in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Kellen O'ConnorHe continued: “We have a diverse team of people in the field across sales, solution architects, technical people, business developers, across many of the countries of those regions who are tasked to support startups to adopt AWS technology and support them on their business growth as they scale.

AWS and startups

For over 15 years, AWS has helped thousands of startups launch and build their innovations.

O’Connor explained: “Our mission is to democratise access to the world’s best technology in the cloud for building a startup and scaling that business to long term success.

“One of the things we get most excited about is capabilities that used to be prohibitively expensive and only available to select companies, are now available to every developer, everywhere. Anyone with an idea who wants to get started and build something with a mission to change the world, which is what startups are doing, our team helps them to do that.”

AWS helps on a couple different dimensions, and the best way to see this is the split between the tech side and the business side.

O’Connor said: “On the tech side, it's quite clear. We have cloud technology, and services across core infrastructure, all the way to advanced machine learning, helping customers scale up. If you think of what we did with Deliveroo, rapidly expanding them across the UK, to more than 20 markets now, and adopting ML services to personalise features and reduce delivery times. That's how we help on the tech side.

“On the business side, we’re there to help startups acquire new customers using the AWS customer base. You have the example of a unicorn like Snyk, a big cybersecurity startup who’s doing hundreds of deals a year through the AWS Marketplace; this is new revenue, new leads, and we support them on business growth. We’re doing that with many other customers. Then we have the team that I lead. They're all super startup literate, former investors, former startup operators, they come from startups, we know them, it's in our blood. We're able to help them with practical business advice and connections to investment, and how to raise the next round as they grow and scale.”

AWS Activate

One of the ways AWS is able to help startups is through its AWS Activate programme. AWS Activate provides startups, including both smaller early-stage companies and more advanced digital businesses, with free tools and resources to quickly get started on AWS. AWS Activate is full of personalised tools and resources designed to support startups through every stage of their journey, from their initial idea, to building an MVP, to scaling their business.

Any startup can join AWS Activate and gain access to:

  • More than 40 battle-tested AWS solution templates tailored to a startup’s use case
  • Personalised tools, resources, and content tailored to a startup’s needs
  • Best practices for optimising performance, managing risks, and controlling costs
  • Access to AWS Startup Lofts, offering founders a wealth of resources, exclusive webinars, and free 1:1 sessions with AWS startup experts to support a startup’s journey from idea to IPO, including co-working spaces in select locations

AWS accelerator programmes

AWS offers multiple accelerator programmes for innovators from all walks of life with access to resources, technologies, and expertise, to help develop their ideas into fully formed solutions. These range from industry specific accelerator programmes, like the Healthcare Accelerator, Space Accelerator, and Education Accelerator, or for founders from different backgrounds like the Impact Accelerators for black founders, Latino founders, and female founders.

AWS even offers a fully virtual accelerator programme. AWS Startup Loft Accelerator is a 10-week, fully virtual programme focused on supporting early-stage startups with technology, product development, and go-to-market advice, as well as advice on preparing to pitch investors.

One of the factors that make AWS’ accelerator programmes stand out is the company’s breadth of experience. O’Connor explained: “there’s no compression algorithm for experience. We’ve been working with startups on technology decisions since we launched in 2006. And so, through that, we're able to distil those best practices into the curriculum, into the type of specialists that we bring into those cohorts to help on both technology and building companies, but also on the business side, and even in fundraising.

“If you think about our accelerators, we have over 100 investors that are closely tied to our accelerators, who we bring in at the end of the cohort to introduce those companies to, so that as they leave with a good product and tech foundation, they're also able to move into the fundraising stage, which is super important for those companies.”

How does AWS plan on continuing its support for startups?

“You’ll see us continue to do accelerators. We think it’s a great way to help companies get off the ground,” mentioned O’Connor. “We are very excited and committed to bringing down costs for customers and that's important across our total customer base, it’s especially important for startups.

“We’re making and designing our own custom silicon chips for training machine learning and serving machine learning models in the cloud. I'm excited about that, because it's going to actually allow startups to build for more use cases that can improve the daily life of people in society. This, for me, is what it's all about at the end of the day.

“I think other upcoming innovations in the startup team is that we are working really hard on a number of go-to-market programmes. One of the things that CEOs tell me all the time when I meet with them is we want two things from you. One of them is technology, but the other is support on my business. We've developed a series of events called go-to-market bootcamps, where we help early stage startups onboard to the AWS Marketplace and sell to our enterprise customer base across AWS in just a matter of days.”