Amazon hosts startup day in South Africa

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  • The AWS cloud computing services marketplace is responsible for a whopping 74% of Amazon’s profit
  • The day featured 8 amazing presentations from industry professionals and successful startup founders
  • The in-person event approach also works well in Africa, as we have seen with Binance’s cryptocurrency education tour

In August, Amazon made news with its plans to expand into Africa, setting up in South Africa and Nigeria. Headlines focused on the potential of the African eCommerce market and that it was ripe for picking. What many missed was that Amazon also intended to extend Amazon Web Services (AWS) into Africa.

The AWS cloud computing services marketplace is responsible for a whopping 74% of Amazon’s profit. Amazon hosted a Startup day in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 20th of October as part of a week of Amazon Web Services-related events. Kudzai Changunda, writer,  was in attendance, courtesy of MSL group, the event organisers.

Amazon Web Services startup day

The Amazon Web Services Startup day was a glorious event. It targeted introducing startups, especially those in the South African startup ecosystem, to the Amazon Web Services offering. The day featured 8 amazing presentations from industry professionals and successful startup founders.

The presentations included Sales, B2B Sales, the AWS marketplace, Cybersecurity, Venture capital, Financial Due diligence, Technical Due diligence and networking sessions.

Amazon aws startup day Johannesburg South Africa

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Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services is the name for a group of cloud-based services that Amazon offers. Through Amazon Web Services, developers and users have access to servers where they can build, test, buy, and maintain software. The platform offers over 200 fully featured services and is one of the world’s most popular cloud computing marketplaces and services.

Software developers have access to a full ecosystem where they can create, test, house and sell their software. The big advantage here is having your software in the cloud and ready for deployment and access right from the cloud. This opens a developer and their software up to the entire world, crossing boundaries such as borders. AWS also handles customer billing and renewal, which means less work for a developer, allowing them to focus on their core competency.

For software clients, the advantages come in easily accessing the software with the backing of Amazon in terms of security and quality assurance. This shortens the buying process as well as the deployment process. In the deployment process, customers tend to experience fewer hiccups and glitches thanks to Amazon’s quality assurance processes for developers.

Amazon and web 3.0

Amazon is synonymous with web 2.0, given its dominance in eCommerce, but the company is actively pursuing the integration of web 3.0 technologies. Recently, Amazon was included among 5 companies that will assist with the digital Euro Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) deployment. Amazon was particularly selected to assist with digital payment systems.

Amazon aws startup day Johannesburg South Africa

AWS Startup Day Presentations

The all-day event featured some impressive presentations, which I will provide some brief insights on.

Key Note – Scaling Startups and How Sales Teams Evolve by AWS Global Startup

Mark Birch provided a wonderful presentation on how scaling sales doesn’t always mean hiring teams of salespeople. This served as an introduction to the AWS marketplace and its working for startups with software products.

The Art of Selling to Enterprise for B2B startups

Fred Lutz, CEO of VoxCroft, a B2B analytics and machine learning startup, gave a presentation on B2B sales. For the majority of people, their understanding of business is Business to Customer (B2C), and people struggle with the transition to B2B environments.

AWS Marketplace as a Channel

Kuda Mlingo, Senior Category Manager at AWS Marketplace, took us through the lay of the land when it comes to the AWS marketplace. Explaining the commercial aspects of the AWS marketplace.

Security is Day One – the journey from MVP to SaaS

One of the most confronting and exciting presentations was given by Joseph Nzioka Mutua, an AWS Senior Solutions Architect. He had the unenviable task of explaining the security aspects of the AWS marketplace and how to approach security when it comes to web services.

Round A fundraising “Advice from Venture Firm”

What is a startup event without a conversation about venture capital? Thanks to Andrea Bohmert, General partner at Knife Capital Ventures, we received some inspiring insights into the startup funding landscape and some key considerations when navigating funding.

Andrea’s “fireside chat” was followed up by Franco van Wyk, head of engineering at CompariSure. Franco took us through the insurance chatbot’s journey and educated us about some of the AI and Machine learning aspects and how to figure into the due diligence conversation.

Financial Due Diligence – the OCFO way

A big part of the funding journey for startups is due diligence. It can be extremely for the uninitiated. Thankfully, Louw Barnard, co-founder and MD at Outsourced CFO, gave us a crash course in financial due diligence.

Amazon aws startup day Johannesburg South Africa

Startup activities

As you would expect with a startup event, it was not all work. There were fun activities to try out, including racing on a track with the Amazon Deepracer. Amazon had representatives to talk to those interested in the journey with Amazon Web Services and the different channels available for learning and certification. Other companies present gave people an opportunity to learn more about their offerings and how they relate to the AWS and cloud ecosystem.

Amazon’s play for Africa

So we all accept that Amazon is huge, so much so that it dominates. The African frontier represents huge opportunities for Amazon Web Services. This deliberate push to onboard African software startups onto AWS is the sort of push that the African web services ecosystem requires. Also, if AWS is responsible for 74% of Amazon’s profit, it is a sound idea to couple their foray into African eCommerce with the expansion of AWS into Africa. The in-person event approach also works well in Africa, as we have seen with Binance’s cryptocurrency education tour currently running in francophone Africa.

More to come from Amazon in Africa

It doesn’t take a soothsayer to envision that there will be more of these sorts of efforts from Amazon in the near future. Amazon has a penchant for dominance in markets, and they are not afraid to make the investment required.

As web3Africa, we are dedicated to capturing news that will shape the digital future of Africa and, where possible being a part of it. Once again, we would like to thank MSL Group for making it possible to attend this wonderful event and experience Amazon’s foray into Africa first-hand.

Read: MasterCard launches CryptoSecure, a new addition to blockchain security



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Kudzai G Changunda
Kudzai G Changunda
Finance guy with a considerable interest in the adoption of web 3.0 technologies in the financial landscape. Both technology and regulation focused but, of course, people first.