During the 16th Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit, Mark Birch, a global startup advocate at AWS, brought his ample knowledge and delivered a keynote that touched upon how startups can get started on their metaverse journey with AWS.

In this exclusive interview, Birch sheds light on the essence of startups in today’s digital economy and explains, among various insights, why AWS is an ideal startup accelerator.

Can you talk about your current role and how you advocate the importance of building and scaling startups?

I help startups understand all the different programs and services that can allow them to build, grow and scale faster on AWS. In that capacity, it's important to understand the journey from the perspective of a startup founder, which can often be quite lonely. When I think about the types of experiences or knowledge that they need, it's really about that experience that I, as a former founder, can bring to the table to contextualize and help them understand what that journey looks like and all the things that they can leverage along the way with AWS.

Why is AWS an ideal startup accelerator for partners? How will this help startup communities thrive?

If you think about that journey — from the nascent idea stage to the scale-up stage — there are a number of different programs and services that they can leverage to help them on the journey, starting with AWS Activate, to get training, resources, targeted offers, and cloud credits towards the costs of building in the cloud all the way to communities to connect with resources to help them build out their architecture. Moreover, they can leverage the AWS Marketplace and the co-marketing & co-selling opportunities through our APN, or AWS Partner Network. All of these are things that startup founders can take advantage of as a part of that journey of working with AWS.

Which cloud computing trends would benefit startups the most in their growth journey? How is AWS impacted by these trends?

Some of the key trends that we're seeing start with the fact that the cloud has made startup activity much more common and accessible. If you think about 20 years ago, it would have taken at least $500,000, if not more, to get started. Whereas today, you can start a startup essentially for free by leveraging capabilities such as AWS Activate. That's just one journey I see from a trend perspective: offering accessibility to anyone with an idea and proving what's possible by building on AWS.

But more broadly than that, I think about the types of things that our customers are now asking us for. These are services beyond what we started with back in 2006 with things like computing and storage, or EC2 and S3. Now our customers are asking us, “How can AWS help us with machine learning, artificial intelligence, IoT, edge computing and spatial computing?”

In my talk at the Telecom Review Summit, I spoke a lot about how 5G is enabling the creation of a lot richer experiences from an end-user perspective, and a lot of startups are trying to develop these really immersive experiences, whether it's called metaverse, augmented reality or virtual reality.

What this means is that they're looking to providers that can help take on a lot of the undifferentiated heavy lifting of building and leveraging the infrastructure that AWS provides across our 200 fully managed services that they can plug into today to deploy and create those experiences for their customers.

What more can AWS do as a leading cloud provider to globally help startup ecosystems build, grow and scale?

Talking about startups from back in the past companies like Airbnb and Uber started their journeys just as ideas, building on AWS from the very beginning.

If you look at today, 83% of unicorns are building on AWS. And what does that mean? That means that they are leveraging the cloud, this computing infrastructure that we provide, to create, innovate and disrupt entire industries. Whether we're talking about lodging, transportation, logistics, fintech or healthcare, we have an opportunity to be able to help these startups along that path to being not only the next unicorns but also the next game changers in elevating industries and bringing innovation to their customers.

What's really interesting is that when we think about that level of innovation happening, it’s not just in pockets like Silicon Valley; it's happening from a global perspective. And this is why we also continue to invest in regions like the UAE, where we just launched a region with three availability zones so that now builders in the UAE can leverage our infrastructure as well as low latency and data residency to build unique solutions for this marketplace across the MENA region and globally.

From your perspective, what is the relevance of startups in the development of the world’s digital economy?

What excites me about startups, and why I had previously started my own startup, is that startups are the drivers of future innovation. Let's face it, startups can operate faster and with more knowledge and iterations of what the customer is experiencing, and those iteration cycles enable faster innovation and growth into the market.

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