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AWS Activate helps ignite cloud startup fire

Cloud startups need direction and seed money to get their ideas off the ground. AWS Activate supports those companies with the hope it helps launch the next Airbnb.

Many successful cloud startups -- Spotify, Pinterest and Dropbox, for example -- launched on AWS. And many more dream of following in their Web-scale footsteps. AWS Activate is specifically designed to help startups in the initial phase of building the business. How does it work and can it help your company get off the ground -- from the cloud up? 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Activate is a free program that helps new companies familiarize themselves with AWS Services and launch on the AWS public cloud. It's available in two packages: the self-starter package and the portfolio package.

Subscribers to the self-starter package receive limited AWS credits, information on startup and development contests, and access to third-party tools that work with the AWS cloud. AWS partners can also promote themselves to member startups by offering perks, such as discounts and extended free tiers.

The portfolio package also includes more high-profile, technical support and in-depth training. AWS recently expanded the Activate program to enable experienced architects to take startups through step-by-step consultations in the areas of cloud security, architecture and performance.

Incubators, accelerators and third-party partners 

In addition to Activate subscribers and AWS partners, the Activate community includes incubators and startup accelerators. AWS Activate and its approximately 150 accelerator companies globally, including Accel Partners, Techstars and Battery Ventures, support and understand cloud startups with  knowledge of several AWS services.

Amazon partners can offer special offers to AWS Activate members. For example, members that are part of the self-starter package can receive a three-month free trial for Chef; portfolio members can receive a six-month trial. And most Amazon partners will provide an extended free trial or credits through Activate. Trend Micro, an Amazon partner in the security space, provides $2,500 credit for Activate portfolio members.

AWS Activate is good for resource-constrained startups. Members of the self-starter package can use the AWS Free Usage Tier, while portfolio members receive anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000 in AWS promotional credit. That credit is extremely valuable for startups. But AWS Activate isn't the only option out there for budding businesses.

More help for cloud startups 

Google created Cloud Platform for Startups, an initiative that partners with 50 incubators, accelerators and investors. The program gives eligible startups $100,000 in Google Cloud Platform credit, plus 24/7 support, for one year. To be eligible, startup companies must have less than $5 million in funding and less than $500,000 in annual revenue.

Investing in the future of cloud startups is a long-term investment with little risk for a large cloud provider like Amazon Web Services. That small Web-based company with an idea could be the next Airbnb.com.   

Mat Ellis, CEO at Cloudability; Daniel Lopez, CEO at Bitnami; and Aaron Klein, CEO at CloudCheckr contributed to this article.

This was last published in October 2014

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