Getting Started & Making the Most of AWS Marketplace for Startups

The Transcript

Lauren Newby:
All right. Looks like we have folks joining. Thanks everyone who’s joining. We’re going to give everyone a couple of minutes and we’ll get started here.

Lauren Newby:
(silence)

Lauren Newby:
A few seconds as I see a few more people jumping in to join us here for the webinar today. Thanks everyone for joining. We’ll get started in a second.

Lauren Newby:
(silence)

Lauren Newby:
All right. So we’re about two minutes after, so we’ll probably have a few folks join, but I say we go ahead and get started for those who are all here. So first of all, thank you so much everyone for taking the time to join us today. I’m really excited ...

Lauren Newby:
All right. Looks like we have folks joining. Thanks everyone who’s joining. We’re going to give everyone a couple of minutes and we’ll get started here.

Lauren Newby:
(silence)

Lauren Newby:
A few seconds as I see a few more people jumping in to join us here for the webinar today. Thanks everyone for joining. We’ll get started in a second.

Lauren Newby:
(silence)

Lauren Newby:
All right. So we’re about two minutes after, so we’ll probably have a few folks join, but I say we go ahead and get started for those who are all here. So first of all, thank you so much everyone for taking the time to join us today. I’m really excited about the group of panelists that we got.

Lauren Newby:
So just a quick shout out, you’ve already signed up for this webinar, but what are we talking about today? So we put together today’s webinar to really focus on that unique experience and benefits that startups have when partnering with AWS and incorporating AWS Marketplace early in your GTM strategy and your go-to-market strategy. So, my name is Lauren. I’m here from Tackle, and I’m really excited to host today’s session. So let’s get started. I’ll actually pass it off to our phenomenal group of panelists here. So Barbara, could you actually do an intro for us here?

Barbara Murphy:
Hi, great to be here. Thank you so much to the Tackle team and AWS for inviting me to participate in this. I hope it’s education for you because I would definitely have benefited from something like this when I was doing my journey. My name is Barbara Murphy. I’m the VP of Cloud Strategy at WEKA. We are a storage infrastructure company. I’ve been with the company for six years and ran initially their marketing team. But for the last year and a half, I’ve been focused exclusively on getting WEKA established within the cloud. I’ve been in the storage industry for a long time. I won’t embarrass myself by saying for so long, but it’s great to be part of the thing. So thank you guys for inviting me today.

Lauren Newby:
Of course. Wonderful. And Chee.

Chee Tan:
Thank you, Lauren. First of all, thank you for inviting me for this event. From my perspective, I enjoy my journey in terms of enabling my company to be listed in AWS Marketplace So for me, it’s a form of paying back to the goodness, Tackle and AWS Marketplace have shown us. So I’m here to help out the rest of our peers in the industry.

Chee Tan:
So my name is Chi, based out of San Jose, California. I joined Tugboat Logic as a VP of alliances and channels since early 2021. My role is to build a global network of technology alliances, channel resellers, MSP advisory firms, as well as a network of auditors that can help us and help our mutual customers implement the audit readiness and compliance automation solution.

Chee Tan:
So prior to Tugboat Logic, I basically have done some works and carried some roles in companies, such as F5 Networks, RSA Security, Zscaler, Avira, Narus, GFI, Sunbelt, Trend Micro, and others. So I’ve been in the security and industry for a long, long time. So it’s good to be here. Thank you, Lauren.

Lauren Newby:
Thank you so much, Barbara and Chee, for being here. I really appreciate getting your insight. I think like you say, it’s going to be super helpful as you go through that early stage and for these folks going through their early stages. So I’d love to pass it over to Megan joining us from AWS.

Meaghan Casey:
Thank you, Lauren, and thank you to the whole Tackle team. My name is Megan and I’ve been with AWS for almost four years now. I work on our AWS Global Startup program. We work with fast-growing VC-backed startups, much like most of you on the call today to help you get up and running with the AWS Partner Network. We support technical, go-to-market, and sales for these startup partners that my team and I work with. Many startup partners that I’ve worked with personally and my teammates have, have listed in the AWS Marketplace as a way to grow their startups revenue. So excited to share with you some tips, tricks, and best practices on the webinar today.

Lauren Newby:
Wonderful. So great to have you here, Meaghan. I think a lot of people are going to be having some questions for our entire panel here. So our last, I won’t say last, not least, but I am here representing Tackle. So I’ve been with Tackle for just over probably about seven months now. I head up our global alliances here at Tackle. We are all about helping our customers from startups all the through enterprises, really help streamline that experience through the cloud marketplaces.

Lauren Newby:
So I’ve been working with cloud marketplaces for about seven years now. It’s definitely something that I see as hugely beneficial and valuable to that go-to-market strategy that you’re building as a startup. So with that, let’s go ahead and get started. I’ll jump right in. Cool. All right. I think we have Barbara here. All right. Let’s get started.

Lauren Newby:
So I think where we want to start off is talking about the “why” behind AWS Marketplace. AWS Marketplace is really huge in the industry, but let’s talk about what were some of those initial goals when you decided to actually list on AWS Marketplace. Chee, how about we start with you on why did Tugboat decide to get listed in Marketplace?

Chee Tan:
Sure. Lauren, from my perspective, one of my strategic objective was to open doors and create new venues for Tugboat Logic to be able to transact with our customers through resellers, distributors, digital marketplace, like AWS Marketplace, so that I remove the sales inhibitor from the equation. I don’t want any sales reps to come to me and say, “Hey, Chee, I cannot close this deal because so and so said I must complete this transaction through a reseller or through AWS Marketplace or through a distributor.”

Chee Tan:
So the main strategy that I have in terms of my channel program is I want to open up doors so that I remove these sales inhibitors from any conversation. So nowadays my sales team would never have to deal with say, they cannot complete a deal because my channel programs didn’t help them open the doors and sign up the right places, such as AWS Marketplace. So that’s why I did it.

Lauren Newby:
Thank you. That’s really great. I think what I’m hearing there basically is your buyers were telling you, “Hey, we want to buy here.” And you said, “Let’s make sure we’re there when we want to be where our buyers are.” That’s great. Thank you. Barbara, what about you? Why did AWS Marketplace make sense for WEKA?

Barbara Murphy:
Well, let’s start with the industry I’m in to begin with, which is the storage industry. Storage infrastructure industry, we’re going through a massive transition. Frankly, if you are not in any cloud and you haven’t got a strategy to go there, you’re effectively a dinosaur. So if you look at the growth of storage and infrastructure in the cloud versus on-premises, you’re talking about an annualized 20 plus percent growth rate per year compounded, which is huge. By contrast, the on-premises environment is shrinking by about 3% a year.

Barbara Murphy:
So we as a company, in fact, that was one of the reasons I mentioned, I started out as the VP of marketing and I was running all of marketing. My CEO realized that as a startup, and again, just hit our stage C, that if we didn’t have a clear go-to-market around the cloud, we were going to become one of those dinosaurs too. So it’s an imperative that’s been driven by the industry shift as opposed to any specific thing to WEKA in itself.

Barbara Murphy:
That said, WEKA was actually born in the cloud, because while we have always sold to on-premises customer and we sell software infrastructure that you layer on top of hardware from people like Dell, Lenovo, Cisco, all of the big hardware infrastructure people. We actually, as a company made a strategic decision that we were never going to build our own QALab. So our QALab was the AWS cloud. And so we always like to say we were actually born and built in the cloud. And so the actual process of moving to a cloud strategy was straightforward. We are exclusively on the Amazon cloud today.

Barbara Murphy:
Even though we’ve been in the cloud for a long time, it wasn’t until we I aligned our go to market with the AWS Marketplace that we started to see any success as a cloud vendor. I’m proud to say that we’ve seen humongous growth in the last 12 months as we’ve done that.

Lauren Newby:
That’s phenomenal. I think similarly being where those buyers are and sounds like, I’m very curious to dive in a little bit later on the different experiences of the on-prem and cloud native that you started to touch on there. Awesome.

Lauren Newby:
So let’s move on a little bit from there, but similar. So how does being in the AWS Marketplace actually differentiate you and your organization from your competition? I think that’s something that I’ve heard a lot of our customers ask about, how to really leverage the AWS Marketplace in these situations. So how about we start with you, Barbara, this time and dive in a little bit there.

Barbara Murphy:
I think I’ve already touched on it by talking about the [crosstalk 00:11:32]. I mean, differentiating us from our competition, the number one thing is that when we walk into a customer, we don’t really care where you want to run your infrastructure. What we care about is the value that WEKA brings. So it’s a great story for us because from day one, we are not forcing the customer to say, “Here’s why you shouldn’t be in the cloud, Mr. Customer, you really should be on-prem.” The economics are much better, or whatever reason you have.

Barbara Murphy:
We are able to walk into the customer and say, “Where do you want to run your business processes and your infrastructure?” We can allow you to do that. So if you want to stay on-premises, we can do it. But frankly more often today we’re hearing what’s the cloud strategy. So it’s given us a huge boost in our business in the last 12 months, and also in, oddly enough, and this is very important, especially for startups, our valuation. When we’re talking to investors and the fact that we are seeing 400 and 500% year over year growth in our cloud business, that is a huge impact as well in our valuation as a company.

Barbara Murphy:
So for us, if you talk to our chairman or our CEO, in fact, I’ve just come out of an internal meeting here. The number one thing we have is building our cloud business. This is what it’s all about for WEKA for the next 12, 24 or 36 months. So we think it’s with the future of the company.

Lauren Newby:
I mean, that growth is phenomenal, first of all, but I think that’s such a great point, especially for those about seed Series A, wherever you might be on your journey, there’s a lot of focus around marketplace and what your focus is on cloud and cloud marketplace. So being able to highlight that for investors, I think is a really great call out. Thank you, Barbara. Chee, I would love to hear similarly from you. What are some of those benefits for your buyers?

Chee Tan:
For us, we are very impressed by how AWS can incentivize their customers to spend their cloud budget on application that they need. There are so many advantages that an existing AWS customers can leverage their current AWS programs, where not only they can purchase what they needed through their Cloud Spend, they can also participate in the AWS ongoing incentive. The more money you spend with AWS, the more incentives you’ll get. So that’s almost like everyone that’s utilizing or leveraging AWS to build their solution already learn about this. So we don’t need to train them.

Chee Tan:
So that said, whenever we have customers coming to us and found out that, Hey, they can actually utilize their Cloud Spend. It actually shorten the sales cycle. They no longer have to take a piece of paper going through their financing or internal approval process. They can immediately allocate their existing budget from AWS Cloud Spend and spend it on table logic solution, for example. So that’s a very, very good and convenient way for them to purchase.

Chee Tan:
On top of that, it’s a very easy workflow for them to … With a few click, they can actually subscribe to our solution without any interaction or hassle in terms of dealing with the phone calls and meeting and stuff. If they know what they want, they can immediately make that decision. So we have situation where people just buy our solution without even talking to us. They just want it. I said, “Oh, wow. That’s awesome.” Pleasant surprise whenever you get the new order email coming in into my inbox. So I think we definitely applaud what AWS Marketplace have done. We are the beneficiary in terms of leveraging the infrastructure the AWS Marketplace has built.

Lauren Newby:
I love that. And yes, it’s always a pleasant surprise and someone could just navigate through that experience all on their own and really shorten that sales cycle. That’s something that we talk about a lot in here at Tackle and see with a lot of our startups. I think that’s hugely valuable, the faster you can get that sales cycle through, the faster you can get that revenue coming in. I think that’s really important at those early stages, of course, and for any business. And that cloud budget is something that I think all of us can see that as a huge value as well.

Chee Tan:
If I may add, just to answer your question completely, we do find that our presence at AWS Marketplace has differentiated us from our peer. Everybody is in a competitive environment nowadays. So the fact that we are the firs in our category of solution, participated in AWS Marketplace. So it really makes a huge difference when our sales team are presenting to the prospect to say, “Hey, we have this AWS Marketplace purchasing option.”

Chee Tan:
Once that is known to the prospect, and that become a differentiator, knowing that they can cut out all the internal processing and go directly and purchasing our products from AWS Marketplace. That allows them to say, “Yeah, there’s no brainer.” So this is a big advantage that Tugboat Logic can offer to their customers. So that …

Barbara Murphy:
Actually that’s a great point, Chee. I’d love to add to that as well. We see the time to actual revenue on the cloud marketplace versus on-premises, it’s about twice as fast. I mean, it’s incredible. Part of the value we get in that, and especially with the impact that the pandemic has had on infrastructure, just getting a customer POC up and running, you can do it instantaneously in the cloud. Whereas on-premises, we sometimes have weeks and frankly months before the customer can even get the hardware to do it.

Barbara Murphy:
So the time to revenue, running through marketplace is incredibly much faster than we’ve seen on-premises. And obviously on the back end as well, the fact that you have marketplace taking care of the financing and the actual collection of revenue, we don’t have a whole collections’ department having to worry about that side either. So there are so many benefits that you only ever realize once you’ve gone through this experience with marketplace and Tackle that start to show up for the business in these early startup stages that we just don’t think about.

Chee Tan:
If I may add to what Barbara said, the other thing that differentiate us is now that we are the only one in our space participating in AWS Marketplace, it also open up doors, not only to all the 310,000 customers that AWS has, it also open up doors to the 1,200 plus resellers that are transacting in the AWS Marketplace. So AWS have done a great job in recruiting resellers through their consulting partner program. So I think that itself also give us the advantage and differentiate us from all other players or competitors in our space so that we have much better access, not only to end customers, but to the reseller community.

Lauren Newby:
That’s so much to … I think that’s so valuable. Well, I heard lots of amazing things there, but one, almost treating AWS Marketplace and Tackle, but almost as a service, removing a lot of that burden, just like in cloud, taking a lot of that burden off of your shoulders to make it easier. So you don’t have to worry about some of the finance and some of those other challenges that might come along with opening a new channel, but then also having that access to what AWS Marketplaces help create when it comes to the channel resale community. I think resellers have been around a long time, but being able to do that through marketplace, I think is really huge and opening those doors for startups. I love those points. Thank you so much.

Lauren Newby:
All right. This is a great conversation so far. Thank you everyone. So let’s pivot slightly and talk a little bit about some of the key programs that are AWS and are most impactful for this audience for the startups as they start on their marketplace journey. So Meaghan, this is coming around to you. So coming from the AWS side, can you share about the pillars of engagement with the AWS Partner Network and what startups can leverage you.

Meaghan Casey:
Absolutely. Before I even do that, I just want to comment, Chee and Barbara, it’s so awesome to hear your firsthand perspectives and some of the benefits that you’ve seen through the AWS Marketplace. I want to add one more why. Some of the startups that I work with choose to list in the marketplace. And it’s something Barbara and Chee both spoke about, and it’s an AWS leadership principle being customer-obsessed and offering our customers a breadth and depth of services. That’s true with the marketplace as well. We want our startups to give customers choices about how they want to buy and allow customers to choose what makes sense for them, what’s easier for them, faster for them, helps them get the deal done more quickly and start using the cutting edge technologies that they’re trying to get their hands on. So giving them options is awesome.

Meaghan Casey:
As you probably know, and some of you on the call may not know this yet, but if you are a software partner in the AWS Partner Network, you do not have to list on the marketplace. We’re happy to support deals to transact directly or in any form, but giving that customer the breadth and depth of choice and having marketplace as an option, it’s just great to hear Chee and Barbara both say that. So thank you for that.

Meaghan Casey:
And then back to Lauren, your question, I work on the AWS Global Startup program team, and we work within the AWS Partner Network. We accelerate VC-backed startups to move much faster in their APN journey, in their partner journey with AWS, then would be possible without our program. But we do so in the same three pillars that the APN always works in. Those three pillars are technical enablement, making sure that your technology is validated, it’s well architected to AWS’s standards of best practices of architecture at scales, it’s reliable. We trust that we can recommend your technology to an enterprise customer.

Meaghan Casey:
And then, as well as product roadmap decisions that your team’s making with AWS services. So these all fall under the first technical enablement bucket. The second bucket is go-to-market. These would be top of the funnel, can we co-brand something with you, do a joint webinar or a blog post, talk about how customers are using your solution on and with AWS to create awareness and help you develop top of the funnel leads? And then lastly, more bottom of the funnel, the third final bucket is sales enablement. This is where we are connecting your startup sales teams with our AWS sales teams and helping deals to close more quickly through funding that available through the AWS Marketplace, if your startup solution is listed on the marketplace. So these are the three pillars that we work in support partners in.

Meaghan Casey:
If those on the call are just getting started with the APN, I wanted to call out, we just rolled out this year a new accelerated path. We’re calling it a PartnerPath. It’s a purpose-built, more flexible guided path to kind of get up and running with your partnership with AWS. So you can check that out and get started through a PartnerPath if you’re not yet already a partner, or even if you are. I recommend the Software Path for most startups because you’re a software company.

Meaghan Casey:
And then lastly, the last program that I wanted to mention and then I’m going to actually ask Chee a question because we had talked about this earlier, we also have a co-selling program that once you get up and running with the partnership you can apply to be included in. That co-selling program is called ISV Accelerate. ISV Accelerate is a cash incentive program for our AWS sales teams, and it helps your startup become more visible to our AWS sales teams, and it also comes with reduced listing fees in the AWS Marketplace, as well as the AWS Data Exchange, ADX as well, not just marketplace.

Meaghan Casey:
So we are trying to create programs where it’s easier and easier for our startup and software partners to transact through the marketplace and to co-sell with AWS. Chee, I remember you mentioned earlier that you benefited from using some APN startup funding when you were working with us. Would love if you wanted to elaborate on that.

Chee Tan:
Definitely. It’s very generous of AWS to offer companies like us with credits, if you want to participate and set up your presence at AWS Marketplace. So it’s almost like 35, 40 5% of the setup fees or costs was covered by this AWS credit. If anyone’s interested in setting up your presence in AWS Marketplace, please look into it, is very beneficial. The ROI was basically, took care of yourself within the first month or two after we set it up. So it’s really no brainer. So please look into it.

Lauren Newby:
Awesome. Yeah, thanks for calling that out, Chee. Thank you, Meaghan. I think there are so many programs out there that are directly focused on startups, which is phenomenal. And Tackle, ourselves, we’ve gone through the Software Path and we know many who have. So I think it’s been really helpful and definitely a nice, simple guided path to go through there with the help of AWS. So great call out.

Lauren Newby:
So talking, Meaghan, right back at you know, if you could share a little bit about the types of startups that you see being a good fit for marketplace, I think there are so many different industries and verticals out there, are you seeing any trends where some ISVs and software sellers are having more success or visibility in marketplace that you could share?

Meaghan Casey:
Well, one thing I wanted to call that Chee mentioned was when you talk about what startups are best for selling through the AWS Marketplace. He mentioned that sometimes buyers were finding and procuring Tugboat Logic solution without his sales team ever knowing. So I just wanted to call out, I see that there are, in that category, two different types of startups that we work with, some are selling to builders, are selling to developers, and oftentimes these users are in the AWS council and they’re seeing marketplace listings pop up and recommended to them and can purchase and use them in real time. And then I see another end customer and startups who are selling to business users or the C-suite, and they have long and lengthy procurement processes. These are not one-and-done decision, it is a long back and forth discussion in order to make this procurement decision.

Meaghan Casey:
Those procurement officers are also using the marketplace. But in those cases, they would have long conversations with the startup sales team, or at least the consulting partners sales team before making that decision, and not just buy it on their own without speaking to anyone. So I see that the marketplace serves both of those types of startups, but is used very differently and can be used very differently. Popular categories for folks to know and all of this is on the AWS Marketplace landing page, operating system, security, networking, storage, data analytics, DevOps, machine learning. So are these few examples.

Meaghan Casey:
And then I wanted to call out at least one or two examples of startup products that are being featured on AWS Marketplace as of today, at least. Lacework has a cloud security platform. CloudZero has a cloud cost intelligence solution. Sedai has a DevOps continuous autonomous availability management solution that they have up there. So these are just a few that are featured as of today on our website to give you an example.

Lauren Newby:
That’s awesome. Thank you so much. Yeah. Actually Chee had a chance to share how APN and the funding has helped you. Barbara, I’d be curious to hear from you a little bit about your experience with any of these programs that have helped you.

Barbara Murphy:
Well, I’ll start by giving you a little bit of my history dealing with the APN. Obviously, once we kind of signed up with AWS where given our APN team, I have to say, I have nothing. The teams we have worked with have been phenomenal. That passion for customer centricity is not just to the end customer, but is also to the customers like us, we’re your customer. So I can’t say enough good stuff. I think the part where WEKA had a real learning moment though was we didn’t understand the process for being able to transact in the marketplace. So we had a pay as you go product up on marketplace for the longest time, but all of our sales teams were working through direct, what we call, and you actually touched on it earlier, bring your own license.

Barbara Murphy:
What we didn’t understand is by being in part of that, bring your own license. We really isolated ourselves from the ecosystem of how marketplace works. So the customers could not use WEKA when they actually bought WEKA software. By the way, our annual licenses are … You’re talking often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. These are not $10,000 type of transactions, but they weren’t getting any of the benefits of their enterprise discount program. So there was a lack of incentive for using WEKA because we were not of the ecosystem. I think that’s one of the things that I really want to highlight is our own lack of knowledge of how that impacts our end customers was a critical piece of us fixing our marketplace, and also the ability to be able to manage and track the customers and everything.

Barbara Murphy:
So the combination of using Tackle as our platform to be able to go to market with annual contracts, instead of our salespeople doing bring your own license dramatically helped us accelerate the conversations on the other side with customers and very large customers. Also, the ability to be able to understand the financing and the backend and the invoicing and all that stuff that we got through marketplace has been huge. So it’s not just part of the APN of itself, is a critical piece for helping us get the visibility inside of the AWS team being in front of the right sales teams being to do that was great. But our inability to understand how the machine worked, I think actually hurt us initially. Until we got that right, that’s when we started to see the growth.

Barbara Murphy:
Another thing that I want to highlight that’s critical to the APN that we found has been hugely beneficial in the last year is we never used to register the deals. I mean, I know it sounds so basic, but we’d have all these deals going on, but it would never occur to us that it was important to put that into APN. What we didn’t realize is that by putting them into APN, our sales associate on the other side of that customer is getting, hey, there’s a company called WEKA and they’re talking to your customer. You should know about them. We didn’t know that. So once we started tracking and religiously every deal putting in, now we have a whole ecosystem of co-selling partners inside of AWS who have relationships directly with our sales teams. That’s been huge in terms of accelerating our go-to-market as well.

Lauren Newby:
So glad you mentioned that. I think co-selling, I think we’ve had a few webinars on that too, as a whole topic on its own, but APN and the ACE tool, the customer engagement tool is huge for, for just like you said, getting that visibility and starting that connection. That’s definitely something that we talked to all of our ISDs about to really kickstart that marketplace motion too. And I’m, I’m also really happy that you touched on the pricing strategy, because you know, just jumping into marketplace, understanding how that aligns AWS and that pay as you go and how cloud buyers are buying. Is it’s crucial to having that success in marketplace.

Barbara Murphy:
I do want to highlight one other thing as well. We had a little bit of friction to overcome with our own sales teams in thinking that if I register with AWS, they’ll steal my business. I don’t want to tell them about my business. I think that was very naive and it’s very important that you understand that this actually, it’s a one and one equals three, not a one and one equals one. Anyway, thank you.

Meaghan Casey:
One thing I’ll add on that is the AWS sales team, they want to be able to provide air cover, especially if you are educating that customer about the benefits approaching through marketplace and what the process will be like. So the AWS sales team will be keen and eager to work with your startup sales team. Especially around closing a deal through the AWS Marketplace, there’s a lot of alignment there. In addition to some of the cash incentives and programs that we talked about that are available through ISV Accelerate. So you will see that type of interest and support from the sales team, but only if you are in the AWS Partner Network and are registering these customer opportunities through our APN Customer Engagements portal, like Barbara mentioned. So just plus one on that.

Chee Tan:
Yeah. If I may chime in, there are a few points that Barbara brought up was very good. On the last point, we also intentionally to avoid any potential internal conflicts, just like what Barbara said, hey, what happened to the deals when it comes directly to us? We still work with internal sales team to make sure that there’s no perceived conflict internally. I think that’s a very key point, so that the new program doesn’t become an issue to the sales team. So that’s one.

Chee Tan:
The other point that Barbara brought up, I think as you all know there’s a lot of concept you need to learn in the process and also during the journey of setting up your presence at AWS Marketplace. And so along the way, I think the AWS Marketplace team and the Tackle team, I was blessed and lucky to work with some of the most fantastic people in the industry who happened to work in Tackle and AWS Marketplace.

Chee Tan:
So in AWS Marketplace, my main context, Noah Rothstein is very, very responsive, very, very helpful. You can work with her in any issue that you want to address and she will be right there or find the right person for us. In Tackle, I was lucky to work with Laura, Sheik and Carly, Gadis, Tina and Misty Chandlerest, who has been very helpful. So I think you guys have great teams and makes the journey, even though it’s quite complex, but makes the journey a lot more streamlined and very pleasant. So I want to point it out.

Lauren Newby:
Thank you for pointing that out and for calling out our teams. I think that that is something that as important as marketplace and go-to-market is building all of that foundation and having the right team with you to do that is really critical to that success. So I think that conversation really just kind of put together what some of those initial challenges are from a technical standpoint, like putting together the correct product and pricing strategy, understanding how to motivate your sales teams internally and work with the AWS sales teams. I think those are all really important pieces for this group to learn about, and probably some of the things you can think about really early on and potentially avoid some of the challenges that some folks have run into.

Lauren Newby:
Awesome. So I think let’s move the discussion a little bit more into, we’ve talked a lot about the success that you, Chee and Barbara, have seen in marketplace. How would you actually go about measuring that early success in marketplace? Barbara, let’s start with you. Do you have any success metrics that WEKA is looking at to understand that impact of marketplace on your business? I think we touched on that a little bit.

Barbara Murphy:
Well, obviously I think I’ve already touched on a little bit. I mean, obviously we care about, the key metrics that we’re measuring on are customer acquisition. So the number of new customers that we’re getting and it frankly has added hugely to our overall customer account, which again, as a startup, things like customer acquisition and the rate of growth of customer acquisition is critical to the overall view of the company and how we’re growing. So that’s key one thing.

Barbara Murphy:
The other thing is just obviously the obvious revenue growth and how we’re doing on overall go-to-market growth and whether it’s accelerating, which it is, I’m happy to say, and the rate of acceleration. So it’s become overall for us. I mean, we talk constantly about ACV, which is annual contract value, that’s a key piece of what WEKA’s valuation is dependent on. And then on top of that is the customer retention rate. So those metrics are critical to our cloud business and the ones that we’re measuring right now.

Lauren Newby:
Awesome. Thank you so much.

Chee Tan:
So from my perspective, like I mentioned earlier, our strategic objectives was how do we shorten the sales cycle? We are in a very unique situation. Tugboat Logic is a fast growing in our space. We are adding new logos every day, every week, every month. We have a very healthy pipeline. One trust is even more amazing. The number of new logos they can add every day, every week, every month is tremendous. So the biggest issue for us is, how do we cut down the sales cycle? How do we remove the time to do contract negotiation?

Chee Tan:
I’m sure you guys have all experienced it. Some of these contract with larger accounts or larger resellers. It takes months, sometimes more than a month, sometimes more than three months. There were a situation that we almost walk away and get did done, but after six months. So we want to remove the long sales cycle issue, because if we can shorten the sales cycle, guess what? The revenue will be coming in. So that’s no longer an issue.

Chee Tan:
The other thing is, like I said, we want to open up venues and doors for our sales team. We want to remove all the sales obstacle. On top of that, we also want to find a way that provide a convenient way for our prospects to purchase our products. So align with our e-commerce ambitions. We wanted to make sure our prospect can easily purchase our products. So AWS Marketplace is a perfect vehicle for. It’s somewhat a form of e-commerce. Not exactly, but it’s a form of e-commerce where customers can go online and decide which skill number they want to purchase with a few clicks, money got transferred between account, transaction done. There’s not much negotiation, not much red lining. There’s no attorney had to yell for just trying to complete that deal. So we can skip all those complex sales process and get things done. If we can remove all the long sales cycle distractions, then the revenue will come. Once you built it, they’ll come just like you all dream. So that’s what I’m driving it.

Lauren Newby:
Yeah, but I love that. Yeah, [crosstalk 00:40:48].

Meaghan Casey:
I’ll just add a couple of things because you can’t say better than Barbara and Chee here, but just to repeat that what I see mostly the startup partners that I work with measure is the reduced sales cycle time because procurement is simplified and streamlined through the AWS Marketplace. And then the second piece that I didn’t hear folks mention yet, but I have a keen eye for because I’m working within AWS and one of my job as a startup partner development manager is advocate and grow awareness of my startup partners with the AWS field sellers, transacting through the marketplace. One of the measures of success is when you see an increased awareness among the AWS sales teams because of the work that you’re doing with the marketplace. So that’s a tracked measure of success that my startup partners can point to and accelerates their sales across the board.

Barbara Murphy:
I would add to that, one of the things that we’ve seen as part of the … which we’re actually tracking, I neglected to say this, but we’ve been tracking, I mentioned earlier about not logging opportunities on the APN. So we are tracking the growth in opportunities from our sales teams for logging on APN. But on the flip side, we’re also now tracking the number of opportunities that are coming to WEKA as leads from the AWS. We’ve seen, it was like huge growth, 10X growth year over year on that front. That’s been huge for us. So it’s a flip, it’s a two-way stream. That’s why it’s so important, especially for people that are getting part of the APN or not used of it, logging those opportunities is the most important thing I think that we do with the [inaudible 00:42:35] and making sure that’s happening.

Lauren Newby:
I love that. I do have a couple of live questions, actually. I think we have some time to take these. So one just came in from Robert here for you, Barbara, are you having your reps log opportunities to APN or do your partner teams do that? So I think that’s a really interesting question. How many [crosstalk 00:42:59] are in there?

Barbara Murphy:
Okay. Let me clear, we’re a startup. A year ago, we were less than 100 people. I’m happy to say that we just crossed 200 people. So we’re actually growing at a crazy rate, but the 50% of that is engineers. So there’s not a lot of other people in the company. So, no. I think it’s a little bit of, as part of my leadership in the sales strategy, if you ask me to join a customer call and you haven’t logged that as an APN, I’m not going to take the call. So I’m forcing my teams to do that. I think it’s very important. I make every one of the sales teams has their own APN account. Obviously we manage it, the partner team manages it as a whole, but we don’t have enough time to do that.

Barbara Murphy:
So its kind of one of those things where I think it’s a discipline that you have to put into your sales organization. I say to them, it’s no different than logging the opportunity in Salesforce. You need to do it. And if you don’t do it, you won’t get the support of the team. Again, encouraging your sales teams to use that APN tool, to use the ACE Pipeline Manager for themselves, and to be self supportive. Otherwise, it won’t scale and that’s … In the past it was up to the partner team to do it. They didn’t know about the deals or whatever. That’s a very important thing is everybody can get their own account, then the master account can have access to everything. But I think that that’s essential. Also, on top of that, not just registering them, but updating on a regular basis. The number of deals that I see that are still a prospect stage and they’re already closed, it drives me crazy. But that’s just part of the sales discipline.

Lauren Newby:
Thank you for that. Yeah, I think a lot of people are learning what the best way is to manage that. I love the idea of the seller is being responsible and closer to the deal than potentially other folks in the org. Thank you. There was another question here live from, or for, Chee, as you were talking about your business getting that field of dreams and having those sales show up in your pipe. Do you have any stats or info around what your business looks like from a private offer perspective, versus some of those organic folks who are just finding you in marketplace? Any insights.

Chee Tan:
Sure. I think obviously there are two different play from our perspective, the public offering is really to shorten the sales cycle, no negotiation needed, through a few miles click you complete the transaction. So that seems to be a steady stream of business. In terms of private offer, we actually utilize it as a way to accommodate some of the custom quote, custom requests. Also, more importantly, my long-term goal is really to develop our partnerships with AWS resellers through that vehicle. So I’m working actively with AWS looking at the list of resellers, and we are trying to make ourselves known to the community. So we are working on some marketing programs. It’s a more scalable play. So ultimately I’m more interested in leveraging that in a private offer as a way to engage the AWS resellers. So that’s part of what we intend to do.

Lauren Newby:
Thank you. Yeah, I think that’s a whole other side of that strategy is engaging through private offer, through the channel partner. So great call out. Awesome. So I think we have a few minutes left. Before, I’ll open it up to more Q&A. I do see a couple of questions, so we’ll definitely get to those in a couple of minutes. I have a feeling we may hear some repetition here, but I love ending these discussions by asking all of our wonderful panelists today. If you could leave everyone who has joined us today with one piece of advice for starting their cloud journey into the cloud marketplaces as a startup, what would that be? So I’d love to open that up.

Chee Tan:
I can jump in first, just recap. I think AWS Marketplace has a wonderful startup programs. If you can find a way to price money out of Meaghan, please you should go for it, because that would help your set up cost. You can reduce your set of cost tremendously.

Chee Tan:
Second of all, I think Tackle is a wonderful partner to be in this journey. So we took advantage of it and we were able to complete what we needed to get done by listing ourself in AWS Marketplace without distracting our engineering efforts or resources. So that way you can still achieve your business goals without adding burdens to your engineering resources. I think to many startup, this is a very difficult, kind of a priority to set. Do you want your internal engineering resources to be distracted, doing all the API works to make sure you are presence at the AWS Marketplace or do you want to leave them alone and develop better products and just get to your business objective by still be able to list yourself in AWS Marketplace without compromising your product development roadmap? So those are the few points I want to leave behind.

Barbara Murphy:
Yeah. I think I would highlight that for us, the big transition in our business happened when we onboarded Tackle to be the way that we could do business. Prior to that, the only way we could really figure it out was to do bring your own license. That took us out of the partner program, which took us out of everything. So it kind of negated all the good work we were doing as a company. When we onboarded Tackle, it literally took six weeks. The reason it took six weeks was not because Tackle took that long, but just the whole process for us internally to get it sorted. But literally from signing up, we were on the marketplace in the right way [inaudible 00:49:38], and that was awesome.

Barbara Murphy:
Again, technically it can be daunting to get on marketplace and say partnering with the partner team and with Tackle is the two most important things that you can take away from this call. It’s so important to be tightly connected with both of those, to make it a very easy and smooth transition, because it’s not an easy onboarding. Like you said, it does require engineering or very technical skills. If you don’t have that in your company, it shouldn’t be the reason you’re being held back.

Lauren Newby:
That’s great. Well, thank you so much, Chee and Barbara, that’s super insightful. Meaghan, is there anything from the AWS side that you would add on from your experience with startups?

Meaghan Casey:
Yes. I’d like to add a point that seems obvious, but just the best business books, things that seem obvious aren’t always easy to do in practice. So my big lasting piece of advice is that getting your marketplace listing up and running and operational is in many ways, the start of your journey. When you’re thinking about listing a marketplace, I would work with your team and make sure do you have a go-to market plan and a sales play, and an education strategy in place to make sure that that marketplace listing is successful?

Meaghan Casey:
So there was a question in the chat, for example, even about, do you enter ACE opportunities or do your sales reps? Well, you have a marketplace listing. Have you trained your startup sales team about how to pitch the marketplace to the end customer, how to talk about it, what it is, how this is a resource, a tool in their tool belt that they can use when they’re talking to customers to help a deal across the finish line? Is there a marketing strategy that you’re pursuing about growing awareness for the marketplace listing, especially if it’s a click to buy, are you driving leads there so that they can get up and running?

Meaghan Casey:
So that’s the big lasting advice that I would give to startup, is when you’re thinking about listing and maybe with some of the freed up time your team has with Tackle taking on, helping with the listing, and I think Tackle can also advise you on this, are you getting your execs and your sales and BDS and marketing team aligned with a go-to market strategy that’s going to make the listing successful?

Chee Tan:
If I may just echo what Meaghan said, exactly what we did internally. So I work with my colleagues, Mark and Edwin. We work together, define a workflow, train our internal sales reps to make sure they understand how to work with us through AWS Marketplace. Without that it’s confusing because there are so many new concepts. And so everything you said I would strongly advise that everyone follow, it’s a very important piece. It’s not like, you just set it up and forget about it, there are some follow up works after you set it up. So well said, Meaghan. Lauren is on mute.

Lauren Newby:
Yeah. Sorry, my mute button just wanted to freeze there. Awesome. So we’ve actually been covering a lot of the questions a little bit live here. Meaghan, you did answer one that I think was pretty interesting when it comes to those ISVs that are in the ISV Accelerate Program and maybe early in it or considering what are some of those benefits and ways to really leverage that internally with the AWS sales team. I’m wondering if you could share a little bit live here so the rest of the folks can hear your response.

Meaghan Casey:
Yes. I’ll share what I’ve seen as best practices, and then I’d love to invite Chee and Barbara to add from their real-life experiences at WEKA and Tugboat Logic. There are tens of thousands of AWS partners in the AWS Partner Network. The reason I say this is because that’s very powerful group of collaborators and SIs and ISVs that are working together, ISVs that are integrated with other ISVs. It also means that a AWS sellers are not only responsible for understanding to AWS native services and positioning those to end customers, but they may come across tens or hundreds of partners in the work that they’re doing. So the advice that I would give is for the startup partner to be extremely proactive and to take Barbara’s advice, which is, enter as any customer qualified opportunity.

Meaghan Casey:
This means you have a use case identified, you’re talking with a customer about a deal. There is a possibility on the table that can be moved forward, and you want your sales team to be connected with the AWS sales team. You can do that through ACE. When you do that mechanism, you can do it completely on your own through the APM portal, your sales rep can do it, you can grant them permission to do it through the APM portal. At that point when you get in touch with the AWS sales team, just remember, and also have empathy that this sales rep at AWS may come across tens or hundreds of partners.

Meaghan Casey:
So you should tell them very specifically and clearly what your solution is, how it’s going to drive value for the customer, and that you’re available to the marketplace and you’re in ISV Accelerate and what kind of questions do they have for you and what asks do you have for them? Are you experiencing a blocker? Are you unsure who the final business decision maker is that’s going to sign on the dotted line and close this deal? Do you need help navigating personas? Would you like to work with your partner manager and request APN funding to support the deal to close?

Meaghan Casey:
There’s a lot of options available for you to help that deal cross the finish line. Unless you advocate for yourself, put it into ACE, get an email thread going or even start a call with the AWS team, we won’t know what. We don’t know. So we stand by ready to help and support, but it’s really important that you as a startup partner take a lot of ownership and ask for the help so we can make sure that the customer gets the benefit and can start using your technology as soon as possible. We’d love to hear from Chee and Barbara, kind of your thoughts on this. But it would be my best advice to any startup partner that I work with or any other partner manager works with.

Barbara Murphy:
So I can definitely say that we’re part of the ISV Accelerate Program and I can say that achieving that level, which I’m thrilled that we did has a huge impact on your ability to be able to work with the sales partners, which in turn accelerates the growth of your business. Again, I’m a huge advocate for the … Once we started using the APN correctly, and started making that the single source of truth into our AWS team, it’s been huge. I have to do a huge shout out as well for, we often come across technical issues, we come across new infrastructure things. There’s so many areas that the APN helps us on, not just on transacting business, but on our ability to be able to run inside the infrastructure of AWS and get us access to technical teams and everything else. There’s so many places that they help us that it’s just very important that you’re leveraging that relationship that being offered to you by the AWS team to begin with.

Chee Tan:
Yeah. On top of that, I think the APN side of the team also offer quite a number of marketing options where we could leverage to participate, and then basically broadcast, promote, advertise your presence. Because just like Meaghan said, once you set it up, that’s only the beginning of the long journey ahead of you where you have to continue to nurture it, continue to advertise it and promote it, create awareness. So I find that the APN Program also provide those options for us, where we are submitting our content. Now as we speak we are submitting content, trying to get onto the newsletter, get onto blog posts and things that we can get to. So it’s just that ongoing investment in terms of your attention to these programs so that you can get your names out. So that’s additional input there.

Lauren Newby:
Wonderful. Well, we are right up on the hour here. So I think with that, I want to say a huge thank you to Chee, Tugboat, Barbara, WEKA, and Megan at AWS. Thank you so much for your time here. I continue to learn from all of you, so thank you so much. I think I’ve got some more wonderful thank yous on the chat here too. So I hope we answered everyone’s questions. Yeah, I hope you all have a great rest of your day and look forward to seeing you all soon.

Meaghan Casey:
Thank you, Lauren, and Tackle team.

Lauren Newby:
Thank you.

Barbara Murphy:
Thank you to the AWS and the Tackle team. If there are any questions that people want to send to us after the fact, I’m more than happy to do that through Lauren and the team. So please feel free to reach out.

Lauren Newby:
Wonderful. All right.

Chee Tan:
Thank You for the opportunity. Have a great day.

Lauren Newby:
Thank you all.

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