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Amazon's cloud unit looks to higher engagement with Indian start-ups

Last updated on: March 20, 2015 12:28 IST

At a time when several multinationals are eyeing participation in the growing start-up ecosystem of India, US-headquartered Amazon is also working on deepening its engagement with young technology companies in the country.

However, unlike some competitors, the company currently has no plans to set up a bricks-and-mortar incubation centre here, and is instead working with other ecosystem players to reach start-ups.

"We are significantly raising our investment in programmes such as AWS (Amazon Web Services) Activate around the world, which definitely includes India," Adam Selipsky, vice-president of sales, marketing and support at Amazon Web Services, the cloud business of Amazon, told the Business Standard.

Selipsky, based out of the company's headquarters in Seattle, is in India for a week.

"India is significant for us from a global perspective. I think it will become a larger part of our business. We have people dedicated to small businesses and/or start-ups. I think, you will only see that increase over time. We are going to continue to increase our focus on start-up engagement," he said.

AWS Activate is a programme focused on providing start-ups with the resources needed to get started on Amazon Web Services.

Indian start-ups, such as redBus.in and BookMyShow, are clients of Amazon's cloud offering. Among large enterprises, Tata Motors is a client.

Amazon Web Services has a team that looks at engaging with small businesses, including start-ups, and works with ecosystem partners such as incubation centres, accelerators, and venture capital funds in India. It has also partnered Nasscom’s 10,000-start-up programme.

"We do a lot of outreach ourselves in the country, and create space in our offices for start-up communities to engage," Selipsky added.

Multinationals such as Microsoft, Citrix, and Target have opened start-up incubation centres in India, where they run three-to-six month programmes with batches of 10 to 20 start-ups, which are mentored by teams.

Selipsky, however, said Amazon believed it could engage with start-ups more efficiently through its partnerships as it allowed the company to reach many more small companies.

"Our partner ecosystem is a central part of our overall business strategy, and there are different pieces of that partner ecosystem. We view incubators and accelerators and VC firms as one piece of that partner ecosystem. Just like the system integration and technology partners, they together can do so much than what we can do individually," he said.

"By ourselves, we would never be able to reach the large base that we can through them. So our strategy in the incubation area is to work with a whole variety of partners everywhere else and in India to reach as many startups as possible."

Selipsky, however, did not rule out a future possibility of setting up an incubation programme, which he said, "will very firmly be in addition and not instead of our participation with others in the ecosystem."

FLUFFING UP ON CLOUD
* Indian start-ups, such as redBus and BookMyShow, are clients of Amazon's cloud offering
* AWS Activate is a programme focused on providing start-ups with resources needed to get started on Amazon Web Services

Photograph: Reuters

Itika Sharma Punit
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