4 Programs that make AWS ‘THE’ Partner for your SaaS startup


The ubiquitous nature of Public Cloud means SaaS founders must consider the Cloud providers as a long-term partner in their startups’ growth story. Whether SaaS startup founders go for a Single cloud or multi-cloud approach for their SaaS, there is a strong case for the leaders to look at AWS as the inital public cloud to partner with.

Based on our research, for the early stage startups, GCP with its funding support of upto $150K does a better job in getting your product off the ground compared to AWS with its funding support upto $100K. But when your startup is at the stage in its journey where it is scaling up or it has financial backing from seed and venture firms, that’s when AWS shines.

The unique strength of going with AWS as your cloud partner is the ecosystem of AWS partners and connections AWS have built over the years. This customer obession seen at AWS means they have defined many programs for startup founders to leverage while they scale their technical operations.

VeUP identified 4 such AWS programs that startup leaders can utilize to get their products to market faster and ensure your customer turnaround time is shortened.

1. AWS Activate Program – Kickstart your SaaS development

For startups that are just starting up AWS has this program called Activate with credits provided upto $100K to offset AWS bill for use of their AWS services. This program is well suited for startups that are:

  • Still developing their MVP
  • Finding the first set of customers
  • Looking for investors
  • Looking for product-market fit

To apply to AWS Activate, your startup must meet the following criteria:

  • New to AWS Activate i.e. you haven’t applied for this before
  • Unfunded or funded (up to and including Pre-Seed, Angel, Seed, Debt Finance, and Series A)
  • Have a functioning company website or online public profile
  • Founded within the last 10 years

If you want complete information on this program you can download it here.

2. AWS Global Startup Program – Accelerate your AWS SaaS growth

If you run a startup that achieved traction in the market and is now backed by Venture Capital fund then at this stage in the startup’s growth you should leverage the Global Startup program. This program is meant for startups looking to scale up.

Benefits for startups in this program will include:

  • Access Marketing Development Funding (MDF) to accelerate outreach, offset the cost of campaigns and content development, list your solutions in AWS Marketplace or AWS Data Exchange (ADX)
  • Increase visibility through case studies, win wires, blogs, and the AWS Startup Partner Solutions webpage
  • Become eligible to receive dedicated deal support by engagement with the AWS Sales and field teams

To be considered for the AWS Global Startup Program, your startup needs to:

  • Have a clear, demonstrated product-market fit for an innovative enterprise technology product
  • Be backed and recommended by a top-tier venture capital firm
  • Have sales and marketing resources in place to build your AWS and cloud strategy
  • Submit at least ten AWS Partner Opportunity Referrals to seek AWS Sales support through the APN Customer Engagements (ACE) Program
  • Publish two publicly referenceable case studies within the past 12 months

Do note a startup won’t be automatically inducted into the program when an interest form is sent. Rather AWS will reach out and will discuss with the startup leaders on what needs to be done to be.

3. APN Innovation Sandbox – Test and optimize your new SaaS workloads

The Innovation sandbox credits offers AWS promotional credits against your AWS billing to drive innovation and development of products that integrates with AWS. A startup gets credits that can account for upto 3 months of AWS costs accrued in the development of every unique  ‘Design Win’ i.e. new solution on AWS or a major rearchitecting of existing products that is to be built or integrated with AWS.

To be eligible for this program the AWS customer must become an APN partner in the Confirmed status state. To apply the partner must provide an estimate developed on AWS Pricing Calculator along with a Solution development plan.

4. Proof-of-Concept (POC) funding – Improve SaaS sales conversion

POC funding is for those projects with an estimated post-migration Annual recurring revenue of less than $250K where AWS will provide upto 10% in cash or credits of the estimated spend.

Building such POCs make sense where the startup’s customer has not fully committed to adopting AWS, but are keen to see through a POC project whether AWS is a viable solution for their business project. AWS will help fund the startup’s POC development for these 2 scenarios where:

  • POC projects can demonstrate feasibility and benefits of the AWS Cloud to new customers
  • POC projects can help grow an existing customers’ AWS utilization by optimizing current solutions and introducing new AWS products where applicable

To become eligible, an APN partner must be at the Validated state i.e have completed the Foundational Technical Review. Do note also that if the post migration revenue is going to be greater than $250K then it is best to do the POC through the AWS MAP Mobilize phase program.

Vincen is a Senior Consultant at VeUP where he works closely with AWS partners, driving strategic growth and process optimization within their business functions, from Product to Go-to-Market. He worked on many consulting projects in Sydney, Mumbai, Melbourne and London, providing solutions to executives and directors at technology and digital businesses. Using structured problem-solving and data-driven analytical skills to identify business drivers is what he does best.

Vincen Arivannoor

At VeUP we have worked closely with many startup founders to scale up their AWS operations by leveraging such programs. Our services include working with these leaders to define and implement their AWS partnership strategy, keeping their long term growth story in mind.

Our Services