Ep#71 Startups are Important @ AWS with Global Startup Advocate Mark Birch

June 21, 2022

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About the Guest

Check out my new book that I recently released called Community-in-a-Box. Also, if you are reading this and want to connect, that is AWESOME! Here are a few friendly tips to make our connection mutually valuable:

Episode Summary

You never know where our next guest will show up. He could be here, Or here, or even here Wherever it is, You can’t help but notice and feel his positive energy. As a Global Startup Advocate for AWS, this he’s been all over the world sharing his passion for startups and helping them get started on AWS. If you’re a startup and looking to find out more about the programs including AWS Activate, then stick around because we’re interviewing Mark Birch, AWS Global Startup Advocate.

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

Host: Jon

You never know where our next guest will show up. He could be here or here or even here wherever he is, you can't help, but notice and feel his positive energy and attitude. As a global startup advocate for AWS, he's been all over the world, sharing his passion for startups and helping them get started with AWS. If you're a startup and looking to find out more information around the programs, including AWS activate, then stick around because we're talking with Mark Birch global startup advocate at AWS. Now, before I bring mark onto the show, don't forget to hit that like subscribe and notify. All right. It's time to bring mark onto the show. Please join me in welcoming global startup advocate for AWS. Mark Birch, Mark. Thanks for joining me, man.

Guest: Mark

Dude. It's awesome. So glad we could do this

Host: Jon

A again. First of all, I first we had a chance to officially meet in person in San Francisco, and we did an improv thing at the DC summit. And then you were at our book signing event this past Tuesday in New York dude. It's and completely awesome to have you show up and, you know, collaborate with you on these. Ah, nice. <laugh> you too.

Guest: Mark

Imagine that,

Host: Jon

Uh, was your signed,

Guest: Mark

I believe it is by the authors.

Host: Jon

Yes.

Guest: Mark

And Mike,

Host: Jon

I got that too. Okay. Just checking. Nice

Guest: Mark

Heirloom.

Host: Jon

<laugh> it is definitely, I love the book. So mark, I have seen you travel. First of all, I didn't even know you were like, I, I saw you hit the invite that you'll be there, but I was like, wait, you were supposed to be in San Francisco, but you're traveling all over the place. Let's talk about mark and what mark does at AWS as a global startup advocate and what that means.

Guest: Mark

Sure, sure. It's uh, it's a fairly unique role. Uh, there's only one of me here at AWS. Uh, we hope to have more, so it's not just global startup advocate, but essentially what a startup advocate is, is where, uh, an organization within the developer relations group and most of my colleagues in develop relations, you know, they're all coders, software developers they've been out there, they've done some pretty cool stuff and they're out there helping developers to better understand how to get the most out of building on AWS. Now I'm a unique bird in this because I focus not only just on startups, whereas my colleagues may talk to developers and big enterprises to students, people that are hobbyists, whatever I focus on startups and specifically startup founders, whether they're technical or non-technical to help these founders understand and get the most out of the different programs and services that we offer that allow stocks to build, grow and scale faster on AWS.

Host: Jon

Okay. The different types of programs that are available. I actually, that wasn't even one of the things I wanted to touch on, but I'm curious, what are some of the programs say I am a CEO. I wish maybe someday or whatever it is, uh, of a startup. What are some of the programs that are available to me as a startup?

Guest: Mark

Well, you know, for future startup CEO, Jon Myer, you can first leverage AWS activate. And this is a program we've had for quite some time that most people figure is just credits, which is important for your cloud costs, but it's also support it's education, it's content. That's relevant to a stage that you're at as a startup there's partnerships and deals that you allow you to use different services for a discounted rate. So there's a lot of things that are packed in there that can be really helpful to early stages. You know, such as if you have a question about, you know, an architecture decision or which service to use, you can leverage AWS activate and use the console to help guide you along the way, as well as to manage your costs as you're building out your MVP. And as you launch it out there and through world,

Host: Jon

Well, that's a lot of support for a startup or like a CEO thinking about, you know, getting into that from AWS. Yep. In that investment, can I ask you like, why? I mean, is, is it the whole like, you know, learn growth, the it, the skills, everything, or their relationship, or back to AWS's leadership principles, you know, customer obsessed.

Guest: Mark

And I think it always comes down to the, the attitude that we have from the very beginning, really just from the very beginning Amazon, which is focus on the customer first and work backwards. And what that means is that we wanna not just build stuff for the sake of building stuff. I think there's a lot of, a lot of that that happens out there and it doesn't really lead to great results for customers or end users. And so our perspective was we talked to customers first and we figure out okay, from what they're saying or how they're behaving, what is really the, the core issue at hand and how best to solve that through technology and through taking a lot of that, undifferent heavy lifting that often many founders are doing in the early stages and saying, let's help you take that off the table.

Guest: Mark

So you can focus most on what's important for you to be a successful startup, which is to build a business model, which is repeatable and scalable. Now startups, if we think about the criticality of startups in our growing global ecosystem and how much economic impact that has it's, it's the future. And you may say, well, well, there's a lot of like really big companies like banks or energy or healthcare, or what have you that employ lots and lots of people. But if you look at the past 10 years in particular, and you look at companies like Airbnb and Uber, and so many other startups that have gone from just an idea to being multi-billion dollar companies, they've changed industries and they've created massive amounts of innovation. And that is what we look at when we look at the entire impact of where the cloud is going.

Guest: Mark

The cloud is still very, very nascent. Only 4% of the workloads globally are in the cloud. And a lot of that has to do with a lot of the legacy or enterprise type companies or, or, you know, small to mid-size businesses are still kind of inching along into that journey for transforming, but startups they're starting cloud native. And that really is the default architecture of the future for anything you build. And so investing in startups is our way of saying we're investing in the future. And if you think about that, what that investment looks like, we've already invested $2 billion of AWS credits over the past two years into startups.

Host: Jon

Nice. That's a good number to, uh, you know, throw out there in the achievement that goes behind it, not only just the credits, but everything else that comes behind the program of AWS activate, are there other programs available to me as like a CEO of a very small startup and a startup of one me right here

Guest: Mark

Start of one, uh, it it's a journey which does start to activate because you think about the, the expanse of, of startups that are around globally, right? We're talking about potentially, you know, 500,000 or more every year. And so it is hard to the be as customer obsesses on a one one basis. So leveraging activates really a way of us scaling the value that we can provide for as many startups as possible to get started. And we give them a thousand dollars credit as soon as they apply and get accepted as a activate founder tier member. But as they grow in scale, there's gonna be more services that that can be applied. So a startup can get up to up to a hundred thousand dollars S D in credits, if they maybe joined an accelerator program, if they work with some of our partners like Carter or Brex or Silicon valley bank, or to get institutional funding from BCS like a Sequoia or a 16 Z.

Guest: Mark

So that's generally the journey for many of the startups that are in our active portfolio, but there's other things as well. For example, I just gave a talk at the startup loft in San Francisco on the topic of founder led sales, right? And it was a, a fascinating opportunity for founders to come in to a dedicated space, just for startups that are in activate program to listen to that type of high value programming, whether it's talk talks on, go to market strategy, uh, talks on particular services like amplify, uh, whether it's, you know, how to leverage AWS for things like cost optimizing your, your spend in the cloud or architect, architecting security. So there's a lot of different topics that we have and content throughout the loft. So that's something that's accessible to activate founders in San Francisco and in New York, as well as our virtual loft platform that allows any sort of activate member to access the virtual loft and virtual ask an expert bar.

Guest: Mark

So you can ask questions to get some help around, you know, architecture questions you may have. So those are some of the beginning type of programs, but then, you know, as a startup starts to build, grow, getting traction or getting funding, like things really the really, uh, hitting on all cylinders, then there's things like the, the partner program or AP to become a partner. If you are an independent software vendor or providing like just a software service that could be valuable to other AWS customers, you can place that on the AWS marketplace. And then there's other types of services that are leverage it through our, our group, our AWS dedicated startups team, many of whom come from startups and have been startup founders, CTOs, uh, operators and there's programs like the connections program that can allow us to connect promising startups to investors. So it does a bunch of different things that, you know, as you're progressing in your journey as a, as a startup, you can start to apply and leverage because those programs are readily available to startups at a, at a stage appropriate, uh, point in time.

Host: Jon

Let's talk about the loss for a second. Yeah. When I was at AWS, there was the New York and the San Francisco loft. Yes. I was actually at the New York loft. Uh, recently I was at the San Francisco loft for the opening. Yes, that's right at the San Francisco after two years as a startup one, but it, they weren't always a startup law. They kind of switched over to that, or what was the progression of the law changing over either to startup and behind that

Guest: Mark

It was actually always intended to be the startup. Was it? Yeah.

Host: Jon

Oh, okay. I've never heard the term of a startup law. I just heard AWF officer San Francisco, the, the loft. And I was like, what do you mean the loft? I did a couple pictures in both locations, but I never heard it as a startup one.

Guest: Mark

Yeah. I mean, we may have like added startup just to emphasize that over time, but, or I just dropped it. Yeah. When the lofts opened, it was, I would say we've taken a little bit of a change of strategy because before it used to just be open to everyone mm-hmm <affirmative> and we recognize over time that we really wanna make this valuable for AWS customers. Okay. And so people can come into loft when it comes to things like programming. If we give a talk or there's an event, those things are free, but to be able to use the law for say co-working space or the ask the experts bar, or some of the other types of programs that we have set up within the loft, those are only available to activate members.

Host: Jon

So as a CEO for a startup, right? Say I wanna

Guest: Mark

CEO Jon Myer.

Host: Jon

Yes. Yeah. CEO, Jon Jon Myer podcast, CEO. Right. I, I wanna present at the loft. Uh, can I present as an AWS activate, uh, you know, on part of that program, how does that process work?

Guest: Mark

I think it's definitely avenues, you know, it's not necessarily a direct way because we're trying to find different ways of presenting program. It's gonna be compelling to other founders. Yep. So one of the things that we always talk about at AWS, and this goes back to our leadership principles is have high standards, have the highest standards. And so that's something we call raising a bar internally, as you well know, and being a, uh, a bar raiser, whether it's through hiring or public speaking, uh, that that's a very important part of our DNA. So whatever we do from an Amazon perspective, we also wanna make sure that we're doing it in the, the best way possible. And so we think about that pretty much in terms of all the program that you see. So that's why sometimes you, you feel like, wow, this is, this feels like really like well produced.

Guest: Mark

And the folks are, are very well rehearsed and they, they understand their topics really well because we don't let anyone just kind of get up on a stage and say, Hey, let me just present stuff. Uh, we wanna make sure that one, the content is gonna be above our bar. So it's gonna be valuable content. It's gonna be practical that you can use, whether it's technical content or business content, and that the person that is delivering the content is also at the highest bar of being able to be a, a person that can convey and present that information with high credibility.

Host: Jon

I love how you use a lot of leadership principles and snuck in high bar bar. Razr true. Amazonian style. <laugh> love it. Uh that's

Guest: Mark

So I just had, you know, it's funny, cause I just had a blog post on my newsletter dev is off, which I've been doing for four years now. But uh, in that post, I talked about two years at Amazon because a few weeks ago it was my second year at Amazon. And so I thought about like all these different things, like these phrases you hear at, you know, when you're at AWS, like two pizza teams or, you know, day one or, uh, doc reads, right? Like, you know, the whole like narrative culture that we have at AWS and, and all these like different Amazonian things, you know, even what I said before about working backwards. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, there's even a book called working backwards.

Host: Jon

Right. I've got, by the way, it was written by one of Jeff Barr's, uh, former managers is really good book.

Guest: Mark

Yeah. Yeah. I have not read yet. Quite

Host: Jon

A few. I will. I put it on your list.

Guest: Mark

I will. I like, I get through an AWS book first, you know? So there's like, you know, some, there's a priority. There's a cue there.

Host: Jon

Get as client as you do though. You've got some time I have to tell you because the wifi can't work all the time on the plane

Guest: Mark

<laugh> unfortunately definitely works too well.

Host: Jon

<laugh>

Guest: Mark

So I'm like, oh, I'm working away. I'm working away. And then like, after like, you know, six hour flight from New York to San Francisco, it's like, oh, we're landing. Yeah. <laugh> but, uh, but it's it, it's funny. Uh, you know, I just, you, you start to pick up these terms and you, and you rattle 'em off and you don't give it a second thought mm-hmm <affirmative> and you, you know, sometimes I catch myself, you maybe saying like an Amazonian type thing to my, to my wife, mm-hmm, <affirmative> one of my kids and I'm like, wait, I gotta roll that back. They have no idea. So I wrote a, uh, a blog post called, uh, you know, two years at Amazon where I talk a lot about the, the kind language, the culture, the, the whole thing around AWS and the things I kind of learned and instilled over time.

Host: Jon

Well, I saw the article, I read it great article that you put together, keep doing it. Uh, actually I think it was the first time I seen one of your articles come up like two years. I'm like only two years, man. I, I swear you've been there longer, but in AWS style two years is like, you know, if you equate the dog years, man, you're like 14 years in or something else.

Guest: Mark

<laugh> hope. Hopefully not. I, I don't want, I don't wanna go like, like right here, like, uh,

Host: Jon

Wait a second. What's wrong with man?

Guest: Mark

Not mentioning names, not mentioning names.

Host: Jon

I gotta ask you all your videos, everything you do when I meet you in person, even when you're off camera, I swear. You're always smiling, always full of energy, always happy. Like, I mean, seriously like that. We, we were on the, uh, the floor in the summits, uh, talking the moment you got off the elevator in New York, I wasn't expecting you cuz I was going down to help somebody out. You came off. I was like mark. And he's like, am I at the right floor? Like joking with me. It was, how are you always full of energy, man? You just like me by the way, but we'll go <laugh>

Guest: Mark

Uh, but you, if I, if I really need to be just like Jon, I, I need to get like the, the, the orange swoosh kind of going on in sideburns here. I don't know if I can really do it as effectively as you cause I the, the, the super dark hair. I know that's

Host: Jon

I have it in my pocket from the,

Guest: Mark

Oh, that's it's wild. Yeah. I don't know. Honestly, I think part of it is, you know, I've been really fortunate in my career and people say like, oh, you know, it's like, how, how do you become like a, you know, what you do? Like you sounds like you have such a great job. And I always always caveat that by two things. One, it's definitely been a pretty long twisty journey to get to this point in time in my career. You know, the second thing is that, you know, I, I am an, a spokesperson. I am the outward facing, uh, person representing AWS startups. And that that's a huge responsibility, right? So, you know, I'm always conscientious in terms of how I present and where I'm at. And it's always with that, that view in mind that when I'm out there in public and in even like more private settings, I'm still that representative.

Guest: Mark

And I still need to uphold all that we are as, as an organization, but this doesn't happen, you know, overnight. Like it doesn't, you know, I don't get from like a, to B and it's like some, some warp drive or some like wormhole. It was a career that started with just having lots of different interests and not only different interests, but being interested in people. And so I actually started my career. Well, first as a, as a, as a trader on the floor of an exchange quickly switched to software developer. Cause I kind of saw like this whole thing about like yelling in a pit, like it sounds kind of cool and fascinating, but then I realized like, you can be like, honestly, any, any idiot doing like this whole, like, you know, the whole hand thing and buying and selling commodities. And it's a very easy industry as I was looking around to disrupt. And I'm looking at all these, all these kids that are out in Silicon valley, creating just industries from scratch in code and I'm thinking, wow, if they ever look at what we're doing, all, what we're doing is buying and selling. It's just code.

Host: Jon

Yep.

Guest: Mark

And that could be way better automated and through, through software. And eventually like that's what, what happened in equities, in commodities, in a whole bunch of industries that we're seeing, you know, the digitization of these industries is happening in a faster and faster pace. And so I just said, I looked at that and I had this epiphany, like I need to be the person that's writing the software. And so I did 108 career, uh, switch got, uh, got a job as a software engineer, like junior software developer and worked my way up, uh, got thrown into a sales career by, wait,

Host: Jon

Wait, wait, are you jump in here? What code were you writing? What language just,

Guest: Mark

Oh, it was, uh, C C plus plus. Yeah. So it was, this was like a little bit old school and a lot of sequel cuz we're building high transaction systems for banks and telcos and manufacturers. And so to use our highly transactional database applications. And eventually we also brought that to the web. So I was doing a lot of HTL JavaScript, uh, Pearl. Yeah. It was a pretty tools, you know, it wasn't like, like, you know, being like the cool kids doing rust, right. So it was uh, definitely some more lower level old school, uh, development work, but it gave me a real appreciation how things work. Uh, I got to understand like, what are the, what are the fundamentals of making a database performing? I got to understand how do you network, you know, a bunch of Linux boxes together, right. To create a network.

Guest: Mark

I had to learn all that from scratch, like how to build security routines, then you know how to solve passwords. For example, like I learned the fundamentals that I often think, you know, as I look to, you know, a lot of, a lot of folks are coming into startups or developers. They don't necessarily have a lot of experience. They haven't built a lot of real world systems and you know, there's a lot of things behind the scenes that you can mess up and technology's got just way more complex just because, you know, the things that we're trying to do are a lot more complex. When you start to think about this, you know, we used to not have to think about scaling to millions or even billions. Right? Yeah. You know, if you think about the scale of Amazon in our retail operations. So we've had to think about a completely different way of computing and now all the different layers on top of that and all the abstractions.

Guest: Mark

And so I think today's developer, uh, they're just inundated with all these responsibilities, all these things they have to learn. And this is why having platforms like AWS is so critical because you're not gonna be able to take care of all the, all the ins and outs like I had to when I got started, cause it's just not possible. And that's why I always encourage startup founders, you know, use the tools, you know, but don't build from scratch. Like don't go ahead and build your own code pipelines, you know, use tools that AWS provides for managing code pipeline. You know, don't build your own security, you know, use, I am use like, uh, use guard duty, use these tools that will automate a lot of that for you. Uh, and oftentimes a lot of times when I'm talking to startup founders, sometimes it's to try and, you know, walk them back to saying, oh, you know what, uh, maybe you should be using this particular service or, or that service and not have to build all that stuff you're talking about from the ground up.

Host: Jon

Yeah. No quick question, mark. I wanna go back to you were a software developer and from there? No, not, not that role is specifically. Okay. Cuz we won't react that. Uh, no, just kidding. Um, where'd you go from there? How did you get to be a global startup advocate? I mean, I'm looking at a software developer and then typically if you think of a software developer, they're not actually out there publicly speaking, they're not a face of, of a company they're developing at, they're passing it off to, you know, everybody else who is then promoting it. How'd you get to where you are. Cuz now you went from what you were doing to a 180 of software developer to now a 180 of BA, like it's not a full cycle. Like how'd you get there?

Guest: Mark

Well, one other thing though, was starting to do as a, as a developer, as I was going on site helping customers. And I really love that. Uh, to me that's what was exciting. Like not just write code, but to see the results to interact with people, to understand what is it they're really trying to get to what what's the real problem. And I, I suppose some folks said, Hey, this guy works well with, with customers and, and

Host: Jon

Playing well with others.

Guest: Mark

<laugh> and yeah, well look, I'm not, I don't think that's, I think it's an interesting sediment about how software developers are, but the reality is that software developers are much like, you know, any other field, you know, there's people that are more reserved there's people that are more out there. Yep. Uh, I know plenty of, uh, plenty of my friends that I've, you know, kind of worked my way up in terms of ranks of software engineering that have also been musicians that have had bands. I went on on tour. I mean, I was a musician

Host: Jon

For example, so whoa, whoa, wait a second. A musician, wait, I don't mean to jump in there. What did you play? Wait, oh man. I can't save this till later a musician. What did you do?

Guest: Mark

<laugh> so I, uh, so I was a, uh, guitar and singer in heavy metal bands for many, many years.

Host: Jon

Okay. We're coming back to this, come back into how you got to be an advocate we're coming

Guest: Mark

Back in any case. So like, you know, developers, there's developers of all stripes. You know, some of them are really good at just being out there and talking about stuff and, and helping and teaching others what to do. And some of those people become these developer advocates that you see, uh, oftentimes in Twitter or speaking at events. And you know, some folks in that I was working with were like, Hey, uh, all the sales people quit in your office. Why don't you sell? <laugh> like what? So, uh, I just got thrown into the fire. Uh, I didn't know anything. And I, I wasn't really comfortable doing that. I joined a company called Sibel not too long afterwards as a technical sales engineer, which meant I was back in the technology, but I had customer interaction, but very quickly again, they said, you know what, you're really good with customers and you understand the financial services world.

Guest: Mark

So we're gonna send you out back to New York cause I moved to San Francisco. So they sent me back to New York and I was a sales rep. And I did really well did that for quite a few years, all the way through Oracle, uh, had management responsibilities. And then I became a strong, uh, a tech founder. I just said, you know what? I'm done big companies. Like I see all these big problems not being solved. And I wanna, I wanna take a chance. So, uh, you know, back in 2007, I got together with some folks, we put together an HR analytics workforce solution, uh, went out there to market financial crash, kind of came. We couldn't raise money to really keep ourselves going. And we had software, we had customers, but ultimately it just looked like it was gonna be a real, a real dog fight.

Guest: Mark

So we, we shut that down, but I w I, I got the bug. I'm like, I, I can, I, I love startups. Like I'm never leaving. And so I started investing. I started to mentor startups. I was an advisor for a bunch. Uh, some of whom did really well, like Datadog and a dog. And from there, I just became this person that would help startups sometimes in a, in a part-time capacity, sometimes in a full-time capacity. So I joined stack overflow and was with them for three years to start a business from the ground up to sell stack Overflow's Q and a platform as a service for companies to manage their own knowledge. And that became a phenomenally successful business. Now, how does that actually all equate to being this person a startup advocate? Well, in order to do a lot of this stuff, well, one, you have to, you have to love being out there with people and you want to, you have to have a heart to health.

Guest: Mark

Like that's where things start in terms of your motivation. It's how am I doing, how am I creating more value in this world for others? And I've always had that other orientation. And yeah, it's not that I don't care about myself. I obviously do, but I've always felt that I can be of help to others if I can be, let me do that. And so I think part of it's just like an internal motivation. The other part is having a little bit of that diverse experience. You know, having been both on the tech side, the business side, having had the experience of being a founder and seeing ups and downs gives me a really unique perspective that helps me kind of have a lot more empathy and understanding when I'm speaking with founders about the things that they really need. And the things that they're telling me that if I feel are problems or things that we're not addressing from the AWS side, I know how to take care of them and how to potentially set up a program or to fix something on, on our end to help our startup founders be more successful.

Guest: Mark

So, you know, it's a little bit like I'm a convoluted, there's not like a straight line in any of this. And I think people from people feel like maybe I need to specialize. And I'm of I'm of a very different mindset. I think there's definitely a need for people who, and like, they're the database guru or they're their DevOps,

Host: Jon

Not a startup though,

Guest: Mark

Or, or, or they're like the BI BI dev, you know, gal. But I ultimately feel like there's a, a, there's a huge open area for people that have, that can connect and see these different things and different fields and different industries. And that's where you see innovation. That's where you see a lot of the, the spark of, of getting people excited to be an influencer and to be as helpful as you can be because you have these diversity of experiences and that's exactly what a startup advocate can bring to the table.

Host: Jon

I don't think you need to specialize because I think as a startup advocate and you mentioned it because, uh, if you specialize now, you're really centering upon something specific here. You can actually broaden your horizon to a lot of options and you have more, you, you're not, I don't wanna say narrow minded, uh, but you're not narrowing on a one service. You're looking at all of it. And then when your heart, like a startup, they're not going to be specific on one service, they're gonna be testing and trying to do different things and you're helping them and guiding them along the way. I do have to tell you that AWS has definitely chosen the right person for this role. I don't know how many people they went through with the interview or loop process. I would love to know those stats because thank you it's and, uh, no BS, man, because of your personality, your smiling, your passion for it. And definitely the whole aspect of raising the bar. I mean, I, I follow you on all the social stuff and the post that you share and what you're doing out there and the messages that you're sending out are right. Keep it up, man.

Guest: Mark

Thank you. Really appreciate it. Uh, you know, it's, it's a, it's a big responsibility and it's global in nature. And so from my vantage point, it's, you know, where, where are we being the most impactful when it comes to the work that we do for startups? And so, you know, our focus, you know, we're here in the us and, you know, we went to a bunch of summits and we kind of, you know, view that lens of, you know, what's going on here in the us with startups and with Silicon valley in New York and LA Austin, Boston, like all these places that are these startup centers. And that's amazing. And that will continue to go on for hopefully many, many years, but I'm also excited about what's happening in places like Nigeria or in Indonesia or in Columbia or in Poland, like all these places that are these burdening startup communities, where you have lots of folks that are, are learning the technology.

Guest: Mark

There's a, a thirst for the education and for stem careers and looking at the cloud as an opportunity to break through and to not only to attain, uh, financial stability, but also to innovate, to change their environment, to bring an entirely new set of services and capabilities and programs to their countries. And so that's a, a huge area that from an AWS standpoint that we look at when we look at the ways that we invest, the ways that we engage, and that's why we, we we've made the effort to set up, you know, such a wide expanse of, of regions availability zones, like launching in Jakarta, which was a, you know, huge, huge, just, just a huge announcement and a huge uplift for the Indonesian startup community and the Indonesia, you know, community at large, just opening up a lot more opportunities for startups now have a region of their own, to, to plug into, to keep their data there.

Guest: Mark

Uh, they don't have to worry about data sovereignty issues and to be able to build growing scale their startups in their own region. And we're continuing to put that investment in. And so from my perspective, I look at, you know, what's going on globally and it helps we get a, a real sense and a balance of what's really needed and where we can kind of best utilize our resources and where we can best spend our time to be impactful and to provide those opportunities. And there's like amazing programs that we're putting together, you know, just from an education standpoint alone, you know, this whole announcement about helping to train 29 million people on cloud computing skills by 2025 huge initiative, you know, other initiatives like our impact accelerator that we, uh, just, uh, announced several, uh, I think several weeks ago. And now we have our first cohort of black founders here in the us. So that's 25 startups and they're founders that are getting together for an eight week program where they gonna get, uh, actual funding, like money in their, in their hand for the startups. Nice. They're gonna get a hundred thousand dollars worth of, uh, AWS activate credits, a whole bunch of, uh, huge

Host: Jon

Accomplishment there that's NICE's.

Guest: Mark

Yeah, yeah. And we're gonna continue those cohorts with women with Latinx, with G B Q, uh, LGBTQ. And we're gonna continue that as a program. We're also doing accelerators in, in AMEA. So serving startup founders on a continuous monthly basis where we have cohorts of, I think, upwards of 20 startups wow. Where we're again, providing credits, providing technical support mentorship. In fact, I do a bunch of mentorship sessions for that accelerator program in AMIA. I do, uh, some speaking things as well. So I did a, a talk on hiring and setting up your culture as a startup founder. And so it's just like all these programs we're doing on a global basis in different regions to have that impact. And that like that, that's the thing that gets me so passionate is that I can see the results. Like it's a lot of hard work. It's a ton of work. I do have to say, uh, I'm still smiling while I'm still sleep deprived.

Host: Jon

<laugh>

Guest: Mark

I gotta fix that one like that. That's not a long term strategy. Uh, the sleep deprivation point that is, uh, but you know, what keeps me smiling is that, and that's why I joined AWS. I could have continued on at stack overflow. We were doing really well. I was actually thinking about leaving and starting on my own and doing my own startup again, but the opportunity to join AWS and have impact and to deliver results. Like, as I started to talk to people like the initial hiring manager, I went through the loop and I spoke to other people I knew that were already within AWS. It was pretty apparent to me that it would be, it completely asked nine to not take this opportunity.

Host: Jon

Definit. That would be definitely a decision you regret. Uh, I, something you'll look back on and it was Def it was one of those decisions that, uh, you actually wait, you said, so two years, 20, 20, right. One year after 20, 21 year after me. Wow. Congratulations. Uh, on it. Now you're a global startup advocate of one. You said that you're looking to hire more because this is definitely not sustainable for a global, where are you looking now? And like, what's the first thing you're looking for in a person?

Guest: Mark

Well, we actually have an open headcount in AMIA or 40 AMIA region, but the role, uh, just for whole post reasons has to be based in London.

Host: Jon

Yep.

Guest: Mark

So hopefully anyone's listening. If you are in

Host: Jon

London, I, I will post about it. I don't forget to take a look at the link in the job.

Guest: Mark

Awesome. Thank you so much. Uh, we actually did fill the role in the us. So we have someone that's in San Francisco and she's been, uh, she's been on the ground for at least like a month now or month and a half. So she's gonna be awesome. And we're gonna go from there. We're gonna see what other, what other regions we should have a region specific person focused on. So, uh, so that will be, uh, in the works,

Host: Jon

Ah, lighten your a little bit. Uh, so that would be good for you so that you can focus and not have to travel. I mean, literally you were just in New York, San Francisco, you're back in New York now. So

Guest: Mark

I'm back in San Francisco next week.

Host: Jon

Oh, well already then. So speaking of events, uh, San Francisco next week, an event that that's happening or just customer stuff, or when's your next event? Customer stuff. So, OK.

Guest: Mark

People think that, uh, you know, as a spokesperson, I'm just the person, that's the mouthpiece. When I talk I'm, you know, podcasts and yeah.

Host: Jon

Yeah. I get that too.

Guest: Mark

I speak, I do like the I'm like the Jeff bar, the startup world. Yeah.

Host: Jon

But Hey, that's a good, a comparison by the way, take that with, with that's. Perfect.

Guest: Mark

May, that's

Host: Jon

A good idea. You, uh, just as seriously, uh, you look at ideas and where you're at and the visibility in what you're doing, I don't mean to interrupt you, but the visibility and the comparison, if somebody ever compared you to that, that's a compliment 100%.

Guest: Mark

No, I, I, I look up to Jeff. He, to me, he's like the originator. He is like the, the OG of, you know, all things tech evangelism. So, uh, I've gotten, I've only just now gone to know Jeff and I just, he, he just blows me away, like, uh, the humility, the, the, the sense of, you know, how he presents himself to the world, which is completely genuine. Like there there's no, there's no HES. There's no, there's no other side. Yep. When you speak to Jeff, it, whether it's Jeff on social, Jeff in real life, Jeff, with family, it's Jeff and it's like super refreshing. So I take, I, I take lots of notes from, uh, from Jeff's playbook in terms of how he's successfully navigated being an evangelist. And for any folks, uh, listening, if, I mean, you had that great interview just recently with Jeff bar, I just watched, which was amazing by the way. Thank you. Uh, great job, uh, but just follow Jeff and what he does. And I think you'll get a real genuine sense of what it means to truly be in that, that evangelist shoes.

Host: Jon

Yep. Going back, best friend, mentor, everything. Just, uh, actually my title was inspired by him. So

Guest: Mark

That's true. Both chief evangelists.

Host: Jon

Yeah. Yeah. All right. So where are you going next? What's your summit and what's this next step? Where can we see mark next advocating at for startups and talking?

Guest: Mark

All right. So a lot of times there'll be specific events, right? Because, you know, as a spokesperson, I'm supposed to be speaking a lot to lots of people, but there's also a lot of different types of engagements. Again, it always comes down to, what's gonna be most impactful. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it's no good talking to 5,000 people. If none of 'em care about start, they're not startup founders or they don't care about cloud. So, you know, it's where you're gonna be impactful. So there's also times when I'm helping startups on a one to one basis. So I'm still mentoring. I buy startup founders, uh, because some come up to me and, you know, if I can't really help 'em, I I'm very upfront, but there's some I say, okay, well, I do have some expertise. I may be able to, you know, give you some guidance or, you know, throw out some questions that kind of help you through your thinking.

Guest: Mark

So there are startups, I do help. And so I'm gonna go out to San Francisco, it's gonna meet up with some of those startups and founders. One of whom will be coming from, uh, from Singapore as a matter of fact, and we're gonna be, uh, doing an event together. So that'll be fun. Nice. Now gonna be, uh, be out in LA to meet up with some, uh, you, again, a lot more one-on-one meetings with investors, with startup founders. So gonna be out down there in LA and then back to New York. And then we'll see, like, I I've left the summer a bit open, but we'll definitely be getting together. Jon New York city.

Host: Jon

Yes, we will. This summit. No, no. Well, and obviously you're in New York, I'm about an hour and a half away. I will be there bright and early. There is gotta be, I don't know, 12,000 plus people. It's gonna be huge. It's gonna be packed. It's gonna be great impact. I'm looking to make a good presence and talk to so many people, not only on using like end ops, but also just, you know, evangelizing products and talking to people on why they're out there and kind of doing some improv podcasts, cuz you know me, I gotta just wing it as we go.

Guest: Mark

No, I love it. I love spontaneity. I think it works really well. Like I think capturing, uh, folks in the moment, you know, trying to be, you know, over overproduced or processed, but just, you know, keep it, you know, genuine and just keep the, the content flowing. So keep doing what you're doing. That's awesome.

Host: Jon

Thank you mark. Early. Appreciate it mark. Before we close things out, do you have anything you wanna lead with the audience? Anything that's on the top of your mind or passionate, maybe a few inspiring words, two startups and CEOs like to join Myer podcast.

Guest: Mark

Yeah. CEO, Jon Myer podcast, or you know, would be CEOs of yeah. Of any startups out there. You know, a few things, you know, come to mind. One is being an entrepreneur can feel really lonely and I've been there, but there are people that can help. And that's one of the things I've been, that's been a real, uh, bright spot for my time at AWS is my colleagues on the AWS startups team are truly brilliantly, just well brilliant, but also incredibly dedicated to helping startups. So like we are an organization which is here to help. We're not this faceless, you know, massive organization. We definitely have taken the approach in startups org to, to be on the ground, to doing what we can to help customers. So that's like first and foremost, like, so anyone that's out there kind of think about, you know, where they're gonna build, like, you know what provider, I think that's an important consideration.

Guest: Mark

You know, the technology is critical, but also the, the partner you work with, that's gonna be the infrastructure that your startup is building on the, uh, more on the personal note. It's like I, I do a whole host of interviews with startup founders, investors, startup operators called AWS startup show. And I run these on an app called clubhouse. You know, some people are like, oh, this clubhouse still a thing. We've actually made it a thing. And we've had 250 of these shows that we've run since, uh, last year in March. So we've had 250 just, well, we've actually had more guests because sometimes we've had panels, but we've had like so much great content, everything from, you know, just cloud technologies to biotech, the FinTech, you know, we've had underrepresented founders, we've talked about, uh, banking and underserved communities. So we we've we've run the gamut of topics.

Guest: Mark

And so the AWS startup show is a really great place. You're looking for inspiration for practical tips on, uh, things that help entrepreneurs be successful. Uh, definitely a lot of lessons learned there. So check it out. The AWS startup show on clubhouse, AWS startups club there, and you'll see all the past episodes or if you just follow me on clubhouse, you'll see it all. And then lastly, uh, I talk oftentimes about community in community building and it's a core aspect of what I do as a startup advocate. So if anyone has questions about, uh, how to build, grow and scale community, I'd be happy to talk about that as well. In fact, hopefully you don't mind, but I do have a book on this topic.

Host: Jon

Go for it, man. Ooh. Oh, go, go community, go up a little, go up a little bit. I'm gonna see community in a box. Ooh. All right. Hmm. You know what I'm gonna do? So what I'll do is I'll drop a link of the description below for the book, uh, the clubhouse, by the way, I almost forgot about the clubhouse. Thanks for throwing that in man. That was, that's actually pretty good. Also marks LinkedIn profile. You gotta the Twitter, everything man. He's he's one. You have to follow on social. He's got a lot of great information. He doesn't post just anything he does pick and choose and make sure that it is valuable to you reading it because he knows your time in scrolling is valuable.

Guest: Mark

Yes.

Host: Jon

Nice mark. Thank you so much for joining me.

Guest: Mark

Yeah, this is, this was a pleasure. You know, I, I knew as soon as we, we connected, uh, back out there in San Francisco, like, dude, this is awesome. Uh, we are simpatico and looking forward to, to many, many opportunities to chat, meet and do things like this.

Host: Jon

Uh, you can guarantee we're doing something in New York. So in one month we've got something going. I got some new gear to test out too, by the way. So we're gonna, yeah. Yeah. I was gonna bring it on, but I won't. Uh, but no seriously, mark, thanks for connecting. Thanks for allowing me to do that. Spontaneous video of the San Francisco law, uh, startup. I literally like I messaged him one morning. I was like, I got this crazy idea for your startup thing. What do you think? And Mark's like, let's do it. And I threw it together. I had it uploading in the Uber onto the airport and had it posted right before I got to the plane

Guest: Mark

That that was wild. I'm like, wait, I, I thought, okay, it's gonna be a few days. And I'm like, no, it's like right there. I'm like, OK. <laugh>

Host: Jon

Yeah. Time is of the essence for everything. And I try to make things quick as easy and, and do that. So mark, thank you so much for joining. There's a lot more, we gotta do a lot more of these events either in person, social, more lofts, whatever it is. I enjoy these conversations with you.

Guest: Mark

Nah, hundred percent. Love

Host: Jon

It. All right, everybody mark Burge global start advocate for AWS. My name's Jon Myer. You're host. Thanks for watching. Don't forget to hit that. Like subscribe in notify because guess what? We're outta here.

 

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