A Silver Lining in the Cloud for African Startups

Access to markets has always been a major barrier for entry-level technology startups. It's little wonder that many startups have failed, not because of the skill set (or lack thereof) of the founders or because of the validity of the product, but more due to an inability to find their place in the market. This holds true for technology businesses from everywhere from the Silicon Valley to the Capes of Durban.

This challenge is ever so steep in the Software as a Service (SaaS) niche market. For a long time, software developers who use Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other cloud services to build and deploy their solutions have had to market their software independently. The onus was on these budding businesses to build market share and brand recognition on their own steam before being allowed into marketplaces such as AWS Marketplace and DevPay. Developers building products running on the AWS platform have just received good tidings.

From the 7th of December, 2017, AWS will be reducing the barrier to entry to the AWS Marketplace to allow start-ups to market their software on the AWS marketplace. The Amazon web services marketplace is an online store that helps customers to find, buy and immediately start using the software and services they need to build products and run their businesses. The platform allows AWS cloud computing customers to compare and utilize AWS software and technical services. It was launched in 2012 to grow the AWS ecosystem by offering third party software providers who have built their solutions on top of the AWS platform access to AWS customers.

Startups listing products on the AWS marketplace will benefit from increased visibility as AWS promises to give PR and feature some startups on the marketplace blog. The startups are bound to benefit immensely from the visibility and access to over one million active users month on month that listing on AWS Marketplace provides.

Amazon Web Services take care of deployment and billing for software sold on the marketplace. Potential customers (users of Amazons Web services) can take advantage of the one click deployment feature that allows users begin using software in minutes. This helps startups shorten the sales cycle considerably and increase conversion rates by reducing customer attrition.

And here is the cherry on top for African Startups: the program in this beginning phase is only available to EMEA headquartered start-ups. This is a massive leg up for technology startups in developing African countries. The startup scene in these countries has produced a few promising beacons, but is largely still growing. The advantage of early access to markets before their competitors in Silicon Valley could be the difference between taking considerable market share and ending up as a footnote in the annals of business history.

Other requirements for entry into the program as stated include:

  1. Startups must have a minimum viable product in production.
  2. The featured product must have active users already using the product.
  3. 50% of the featured product’s workload must run on AWS.
  4. The program allows any startup ranging from the bootstrapped; the crowd funded; to the venture backed, who are building solutions on AWS are allowed to participate.

With terms such as these the number of startups from Africa who would be deploying SaaS solutions on AWS marketplace is bound to increase geometrically. This in turn is good business for Amazon, and an amazing opportunity for technology startups all over Africa.