We want to lower the cost of curiosity for startups: Kumara Raghavan, AWS

Kumara Raghavan, Head, Startups, AWS India and South Asia, spoke to CIOL and emphasized that their goal was to support startups in conducting experiments, discovering the right use cases, and ultimately solving their customers' problems effectively

Supriya Rai
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In an exclusive interview with Kumara Raghavan, Head, Startups, AWS India and South Asia delves into AWS Activate, a flagship program designed to support startups throughout their journey. Raghavan emphasizes the program's alignment with the startup lifecycle, catering to evolving needs from ideation to scaling.


At the inception stage, startups require substantial support. AWS Activate provides credits for cloud usage, architectural assistance, and specialized training tailored to their vertical. Raghavan highlights the importance of addressing vertical-specific needs, such as Machine Learning (ML) for ML-based startups, fostering innovation and growth.

AWS extends its support through specialized accelerators like the FinTech Accelerator and SaaS-based startup initiatives. Recognizing India as a hub for startups targeting global markets, AWS facilitates Go-To-Market (GTM) strategies, empowering startups to thrive on a global scale. “We recently announced the FinTech Accelerator, adding to our array of initiatives. Among our longstanding programs is the accelerator for SaaS-based startups. Given India's status as a significant market for startups with global ambitions, this initiative holds immense potential. Over the past four years, we have successfully conducted four editions of this accelerator program, nurturing startups aiming for global expansion,” said Raghavan.

“Furthermore, we provide invaluable industry expertise to participating startups. Our comprehensive approach covers essential aspects such as product development, packaging, pricing strategies, market entry, and sales team establishment. Our goal extends beyond technological support; we aim to equip startups with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the complexities of scaling a business successfully,” he added.


Empowering Women Entrepreneurs

In a move towards inclusivity, AWS introduces an accelerator program for women-founded startups. Raghavan also emphasized on the significance of representation, citing success stories like Nykaa and Acko as sources of inspiration. The program offers mentorship, industry expertise, and activate credits to foster the growth of women-led startups. “We also bring in some of these women-founded startups that have scaled phenomenally, ensuring that emerging startups are inspired by their success stories. Additionally, we provide specific mentorship from industry experts relevant to the startups they are building. We also support them with Activate credits,” he said.

Machine Learning for All with AWS


Reflecting on AWS's extensive experience in machine learning, Raghavan discussed how AWS caters to diverse user needs across three layers. For advanced users, AWS provides high-performance infrastructure options like P5 Instances. Intermediate users benefit from simplified tools like Amazon SageMaker, enabling business analysts to develop ML models effortlessly. Ready-made applications like Amazon Rekognition cater to users seeking plug-and-play solutions for specific tasks, such as KYC verification.

Lowering the Cost of Curiosity

Raghavan underscores AWS's commitment to reducing the barrier to experimentation. By offering accessible tools and infrastructure, AWS empowers startups to innovate, experiment, and iterate swiftly, ultimately driving customer-centric solutions. “Fundamentally we characterize our approach by aiming to reduce the cost of curiosity. We want to facilitate experimentation, enabling startups to fail fast, explore new ideas, and identify successful endeavors. Our goal is to support startups in conducting experiments, discovering the right use cases, and ultimately solving their customers' problems effectively. That's the essence of our commitment,” he stated.

Through initiatives like AWS Activate, specialized accelerators, and inclusive programs for women entrepreneurs, AWS continues to be a catalyst for innovation, enabling startups to realize their full potential in the dynamic landscape of technology and business.