Veronica Ostring: Supporting Early-Stage Startups

Veronica Ostring is a Senior Startup Account Manager and the Early Stage Startups Vertical Lead in EMEA North at Amazon Web Services. Her mission is to help early-stage startups across EMEA North, including Benelux, with their growth journey. Find out why she fell in love with the startup scene in the first place, which advice she shared for founders looking to scale, and what she thinks is necessary to accelerate the ecosystem’s growth further.A blonde young woman wearing a black shirt, talking on stage
1. Hi Veronica. Thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Could you tell us about your background and connection to the startup world?

I’m originally from Finland but studied in the UK and have lived there most of my life, except for being in New York and Dublin for some time. Now, I’m living in Amsterdam, which I love.

I started my career at a startup in London, a B2B SaaS similar to Crunchbase, where we provided analysis, insights, and data on VC/M&A deals. We also hosted many executive networking events with hot startups (like Airbnb, Spotify, and YPlan). Since then, I have fallen in love with the energy, passion, and mind-boggling ideas in the startup sphere. 

While seeking to build a diverse background in my career, I jumped onto the “other side” to work for Citi in New York and Barclays in London on the digital team for the app for a couple of years. Working closely with the executive team taught me a lot about how large corporates are structured and how the machine behind it all runs. At Barclays, I co-founded the Digital Unleashed Conference, where startups and big techs shared inspiring stories. 

By then, it was time to jump back into working closer daily with startups. So I joined the startup team at AWS in Amsterdam. I’m now working with early-stage startups – leading the Early Stage Priority for EMEA North (Benelux, Nordics, Baltics, DACH, and CEE) in beautiful Amsterdam.

2. Tell us more about your mission of helping early-stage startups at Amazon Web Services.

At AWS, we love startups. We have local teams worldwide and work closely with startups from their earliest stages. From experience and building the cloud since 2006, we’ve always worked backward from our customer needs (90% of our roadmap and features directly result from customer feedback). For example, whether startups are in the MVP, growth, or scaleup phases, we have Startup Solutions Architects who can help brainstorm, advise, and review the customers’ architecture. We also have partners who can help with hands-on building. On the technical side, we have many Benelux Case Studies for inspiration, for example, Smartocto or Leadinfo.

When founders need help brainstorming their go-to-market strategy, we have industry experts on both the technical and business side in almost all verticals. We work with startups to co-sell with us via the AWS Partner Network and the AWS Marketplace, where more than 300,000 customers go to find, subscribe to, and deploy third-party software.

As a result of having the industry’s largest customer and partner community and millions of active customers every month, we naturally often act as an ecosystem connector, for example, in helping founders find new business opportunities, investments, or introductions between customers through events we host like the Founders Circle in Benelux.

If you’re interested in connecting, I’d suggest looking at our Startup Resources, online and local events (both Business and Technical tracks), technical Ask an Expert sessions, or applying to our Startup Loft Accelerator program.    

3. Which advice would you give to startup founders looking to grow and scale internationally? 

Growing from a local startup to an international scaleup is an exciting move and a topic we discuss with founders often. Taking the time to strategically plot which markets make the most business sense by looking at addressable market size, talent, regulations, competitors, and national government agenda (especially for grants) is essential. Considering culture and cultural differences is also vital for building a successful international team and addressing the local market and customer needs. 

Another piece of advice I often give startups is to network in the ecosystem, attend events, and connect with founders who have previously expanded into new markets. Don’t be shy to ask for help and advice, and choose investors that can help. 

4. What’s going well in the startup ecosystem in the Netherlands at the moment? Which challenges is the ecosystem facing? How do you feel you’re contributing?

Right now, to me, it seems like investors are more cautious with their capital in taking “bigger bets” and performing higher due diligence, dispersing out smaller deals while the focus seems to be shifting more to earlier-stage businesses.

Where are the significant sums going? Last year’s VC Analysis of the Dutch Market showed that climate investors and investment predominated substantial sums like Lightyear with €81M and Elestor with €30M.

Many new funds have been added in the Netherlands recently, including Peak Capital’s €150M Seed Fund, Endeit Capital with €303M, and Newion with €130M. In my opinion, it’s encouraging, and we see depth and resilience in the Dutch startup scene. 

If startups need help with their funding journey, at the AWS Loft Accelerator program, we help them become funding-ready with hands-on workshops and concrete use cases, all designed to validate and perfect their go-to-market strategy, pitch deck, and storytelling. Through the program, startups benefit from the extensive AWS network of industry leaders, technology experts, serial entrepreneurs, investors, startup organizations, advisors, and partners.

5. What do you predict for the ecosystem in the Netherlands in the near future?

Dutch startups are already thriving in many ways, and the Netherlands has the potential to become a leader in the ecosystem across Europe. According to McKinsey’s report, the Netherlands ranks fourth in terms of startup value creation in Europe, and among cities, Amsterdam is one of Europe’s fastest-growing startup hubs.

For a drive in further acceleration in growth, I would personally like to see more diversity, especially around founder background and an increase in the share of female founders (according to Silicon Canals 2022 report, female founder share was at 36%) to bring an increasingly diverse set of ideas and businesses into the market. In addition, generally increasing favorable conditions for startups and incentivizing more top talent to the region through creating favorable taxation, increasing employee stock option ownership plans, and allocating more capital to entrepreneurship and innovation. Overall, I think it’s an inspiring time for the region, and I’m very thankful to be part of it.

Thank you for sharing your story and insights, Veronica. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

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