Attention expat entrepreneurs with amazing products … Amazon’s Launchpad project just arrived in Europe, and the Seattle-based e-commerce giant wants to be your partner. Literally.
Vienna-based Dispatches Europe contributor Ivana Avramovic noticed this weekend that Amazon has added a new Launchpad tab on its German website. Click it, and it takes you to an explainer page about this project that Amazon debuted in the United States last July.
“This is brand new,” Ivana said. “I look at the amazon.de homepage almost every day and this thing just came up today. Perhaps it was also (up) yesterday, but it is brand new.”
This is a typical Amazon move. Company executives took the United Kingdom Launchpad site live last year without any notice or fanfare. Now, Launchpad is in continental Europe.
Launchpad is clearly a program designed to capture startups with potential. The deal is, Amazon gives you an actual direct email address to which you can pitch your product to the most powerful global fulfillment and distribution engine on earth … potentially an instant break that’s almost surreal in European thinking.
From the Launchpad pitch:
We make it easy for startups like yours to launch new products on Amazon and get them discovered. Why use Amazon? S world-class ecommerce expertise, global infrastructure, and powerful marketing tools to help you tell your story and deliver your products to millions of potential customers. Our team is vested in your success, allowing you more time to focus on innovating and growing your business.
The tradeoff is, it sounds like Amazon is making you an offer you can’t refuse.
In essence, Amazon is offering European startups not only instant access to global markets but also entree to Amazon’s matrix of investors and startup consultants. Amazon partnered up with startup incubators and accelerators such as Y Combinator, as well as venture firms such as Andreessen Horowitz and crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, connecting them with early-stage startups, according to a TechCrunch post.
Through its sales portals, Amazon offers startups with viable products, which typically have a tough time getting early stage capital in Europe, to scale up through an instant cash stream from global sales.
From the TechCrunch post:
Startups have long lamented about the difficulties of scaling a business out of Europe: it’s one reason why many decide to migrate to Silicon Valley to seek more funding and connections. Programs like this offer them one way to quickly meet demand on their own (and Amazon’s steam) as a product picks up speed.
In Germany, Launchpad already signed a number of startups including Bragi, a startup that makes Bluetooth-enable ear buds. There’s also a video interview with Bragi founder Nikolaj Hvild and details about the Bragi headphones.
So, Europe wins by keeping startups with proven products. And Amazon certainly wins by improving its chances of capturing Europe’s version of the Beats headphones or whatever must-have product comes from the fertile minds of Europe’s startup entrepreneurs.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.