Cloudflare TV

🎂 Workers Launchpad + Startup Program

Presented by Jade Wang, Mia Wang
Originally aired on 

Watch Cloudflare’s Jade Wang (Manager, Marketing) and Mia Wang (M&A and Strategy Director) explain the latest in Workers Launchpad and Startup Program.

Read the blog post:

Visit the Birthday Week Hub for every announcement and CFTV episode — check back all week for more!

English
Birthday Week

Transcript (Beta)

Welcome to Birthday Week Workers Launchpad and Startup Program. I'm Jade Wang and this is Mia.

Hi, I'm Mia.

So I'm Jade.

I run the startup program at Cloudflare, and I used to be a startup founder myself, and I'm also an angel investor on the side.

And Mia.

Well, I'm Mia Wang, I'm on our social products team, focused mostly on strategy and exciting special projects like our Workers Launchpad announcement today.

And although we have the same last name, we're not actually related.

I feel like we've done a bunch of these together and have probably had to make that disclaimer.

So.

So Mia, tell us about the Workers Launchpad program. Yeah.

So we announced a program today. For those of you watching are familiar with Cloudflare Workers.

It's our Serverless Edge platform that allows you as a startup or any business to run your applications on the network that Cloudflare built.

And we've seen a lot of startups over the years build on it, grow on it, and do pretty incredible things.

And we wanted to just make it even easier for folks to get started and to scale on the Workers platform.

So what we announced is a $1.25 billion funding program.

Yeah, in partnership with more than 25, some of the best VCs, most recognizable names in the world to really bring more, more funding to Workers based startups and also get you the sort of tools, the support, mentorship that you need to really build, build a huge successful business.

I will just a quick, quick little background story on the 1.25.

When we first started thinking about doing this announcement, we're like, what's a what's a good ambitious size for something like this?

Right?

Getting commitments from investors to put in tens of millions of dollars is not it's not an easy ask.

So we at the time, we're like 240 I think would be really great.

It could do a lot for the Workers ecosystem.

We would fund a lot of startups with that.

So we aim for 250 million.

And then we started talking to VCs and it sort of took on a life of its own from there.

The excitement that we saw was just incredible and. We ended up at 1.5 billion.

So it was a fun.

A fun oops, nice.

I saw Matthew's.

Tweet.

That was pretty great. So how does applying work?

They fill out a form.

How long does it take to fill out the form?

How does that work?

It's funny, in our blog post we wrote that it takes less than 5 minutes and I was like, That feels right.

And then we actually got our first application 4 minutes after we announced.

So apparently.

So it's definitely less than five. Yes.

So it takes less than 5 minutes to apply to the Workers launchpad page you find from our blog as well.

And we just ask a few questions about what your startup does, how you're using Workers.

So this program is meant for companies that are already using Workers. If you aren't, I'd love to sort of dig into the startup plan a bit, but if you aren't, we try to make it easy as well for you to get started on Cloudflare products and then you can apply again so any startup can apply to the program.

And any startup is eligible for the perks, including potential introductions to the VC partners that we have, as well as we'll be doing for the very first cohort of the Workers Launchpad program.

We're going to do a demo day of Founders boot camp and a bunch of others for special stuff, so that's available for any company that applies.

You could be a company that's raised $25 million, zero, anything in between.

So no, no startup is too small or too large to apply.

Exactly.

Exactly. And the thinking there too is just if I think about Cloudflare Workers.

Right.

It's it's not just something that only a large, very late stage startup should care about and would want to use.

We want to make sure it's accessible to if you're just getting your business off the ground right.

We want to make sure that you have the tools that you'll need as well.

And so what if you're two students in a dorm room and you haven't incorporated anything yet?

You just have an idea of something that you're thinking about building.

Or maybe you did a school hackathon and you think, maybe I want to flush this out into a real product is.

Yeah, that's for sure.

Once I think all I would say there is.

Start building on workers and then you can apply whenever you're ready.

Definitely start.

Start playing around with it. And then if you feel like this is this is maybe something you want to commit time and effort to building this business with two friends out of a dorm.

There's there's plenty of iconic companies that start that way, right?

If you decide that that's something you want to definitely, definitely apply and well, we'll take a look as well.

Let's talk a little bit about the selection process and the timeline.

When should people hear back?

How does the semifinalist selection and the finalist selection work?

Yeah, as you could imagine, it'll take a little time for us to get through all the applications, but we do want to make sure we stay in touch with you.

So we're first kind of deadline I think about is October 31.

So we want to make sure people have a month to apply.

Tell us what you're doing with Workers and tell us more about your business.

And by Halloween.

By Halloween, Yeah, exactly.

You can even apply on your phone as your trick or treating if you get a little bored.

If you have a long stretch between houses, just apply and apply then. And then we'll work with our VC partners as well as a review committee internally that's made up of folks who are former founders themselves or investors or people on the Cloudflare Workers team.

We'll be the applications we'll try to do is match that.

We'll match you with the right VCs.

We have some VCs who are maybe more folks.

For example, we have Lightspeed Partners, We have their India team, which focuses on startups in India and Southeast Asia.

So we'll try to match you with investors that are most relevant for you that focus on the sectors you're in.

And then we'll reach out in November with updates on semifinalists.

And we'll also reach out to probably do a one on one with someone on our on our launchpad team and then go from there.

And so hoping to do the boot camp later in the fall or early winter and then a demo day weeks after that.

This one is Demo Day.

Tbd.

We'll see. I think we want to try to pick a time that.

Really gives to the companies that end up being selected as part of this cohort.

We want to make sure that you have enough time to get your product launch right.

I've had lots of friends go to demo days with maybe less than half baked products, and ideally you want to go there with something that you're sort of ready and proud to show the world, right?

So we'll work with the cohort to figure out the right date for that.

It will probably be sometime in the winter, maybe at the beginning of 2023 Also.

And if somebody isn't ready, can they can they can they punt to the next round?

Yeah, absolutely.

So this is something on a quarterly basis, Will, we'll work together a cohort, I think just for the very first inaugural class, we wanted to do something a bit special, but this is something you could apply to every single quarter.

And our VCs with 25, 26 partners, which are approaching 30 as of this morning, and they're they're all excited to meet startups based on workers.

So there won't be a shortage of VCs looking to meet us.

So definitely you can apply at any time.

The first deadline I'll mention is just October 31st and also in between them.

Maybe this would be actually a really good time to talk about our other really exciting announcement as well.

Well, yeah.

What do you get, if you would?

Yeah, exactly.

One other sort of perk that I probably should have mentioned in more detail is if you are an earlier stage startup.

So if you raise less than $3 million total, you'll also get access to a bunch of free Cloudflare products.

Right.

And I understand we've made that package a lot more exciting, compelling. You want to work out?

Yeah.

So?

So yeah, Last year we, we launched the first version of the startup plan, which is where you get one free year of, you know, basically a whole, a reasonable basket of Cloudflare products that would otherwise cost a pretty penny.

And in the past year, what we've realized is a lot of people keep writing and say, okay, so worker stream and Zero Trust come with this plan.

But I would also like these other products and we also got a lot of emails of the format.

I am I'm an early stage startup. We're two kids in a dorm and we aren't a part of any accelerator program.

Can we also get in as part of the as part of the plan?

And we didn't really have a good answer for a lot of these and for the for the additional products, we you know, we had to evaluate them on a case by case basis, which took time and energy.

And so this time around, we have a much larger product set, which is which is listed in the blog post.

It's basically triple the number of products.

And the eligibility threshold is including a much larger number of accelerator programs.

Plus we have a referral program.

And if you're if you and the and open to Cloudflare alumni and if you're not in any of the category above you might as well also apply for Workers launchpad, which will qualify you for the startup program for a year.

It's awesome.

I guess. Question Why?

Why do we decide to increase the expand the product basket in some ways?

Someone might say a business.

Why?

Why? Why do you want to just keep giving more and more and more stuff away for free?

It's literally a lot of work, you know, individually.

One startup asking for an additional product.

It takes anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes if I already know what buttons to push.

But sometimes, sometimes it's a product I haven't enabled before.

And it might take me an hour to track down somebody who knows how to turn it on and help me with it.

So and doing that for hundreds of startups is no easy feat, so it's much easier to have a script turn on the correct version of every product for all of the startups in one go.

And startups require different products.

You know, not everyone is building a video streaming service, but video streaming is useful for a lot of whether you're a fitness app or you just have some video playing in the background of your e-commerce site.

But Iot startups are going to be requesting Spectrum and SAS startups are requesting Cloudflare for SAS, like every different startup is requesting different types and different genres of startups are requesting different product baskets, and it's easier to give everyone the same thing and it's less work.

I love the sort of back story there of just like it was inconvenient for us to sort of block access to certain products that we knew would actually be really, really helpful.

So why not just make it more, more accessible? Why are there are there any you mentioned a bunch of really, really great products or are there any that might be universally relevant for startups?

I think of maybe email security as one of them, something that.

I've seen.

This.

Oh, for sure. Yeah. Email security, like image optimization that there's a lot of load balancing is applicable to a very large percentage of startups workers like basically everybody uses.

Yeah, like the vast majority of startups on the startup plan are using workers in some capacity.

I mean, some of them have some of them like nine are built entirely on top of workers and the and the worker suite of products.

And some of them already had a kind of mature product at the time that they got on the plan.

And they're using it for performance optimizations. Got it.

That's a really good point to think about sort of why the two of us are even doing this session together.

Right?

Is that if you think about if you're if your startup founder or an employee at a startup, right, there are a million of millions of things on your to do list, right?

And ideally, you'd want to focus on the things that would make a competitive difference for you, right?

How do you differentiate your product experience better from a competitor's?

How do you focus on improving your product?

But in a lot of cases, the infrastructure side thing is probably not where you want to spend a ton of time thinking about.

And the hope is just whether it's through the Workers launchpad and giving away access to workers or Cloudflare for SAS load balancing all these things, it just hopefully for founders and startup employees will just help you cut down your to do list significantly and just trust that these things will.

Allocate your time to work on your business.

Exactly right.

And we'll handle we'll handle the rest or most of the rest.

Well, I guess one question is so that you mentioned this program has been around for more than the original program.

It's been around for more than a year or so now.

So for startups that are on V1 of the startup plan, what happens to them today?

Do they lose access to the plan or. They will automatically be receiving upgrades to the V2 version of the plan.

No action required.

We are doing this in batches over the coming weeks.

Got it.

Well, and so can they build They'll receive maybe some sort of email or notification from us that they've said yes.

Absolutely, including links to docs of all the new all the new products that they now have access to.

Awesome.

Yeah. And all the new products will be.

It will remain applicable for the remainder of the year that they are on the startup plan.

Got it.

That feels pretty straightforward. So they don't need to do anything.

They'll.

However much time was originally on, their plan is still going to carry over except for.

From today on they'll have access to a lot more product.

That's crazy.

I one question for you, because I know you've been in the startup world for a really long time.

Prior to coming Cloudflare, you've been in the founder.

She is an engineer, even all that.

When you think about our new basket of products, are there any that you're like, I wish I had this back in the day.

I assume there's probably a bunch of them, but are there any that really jumped out at you?

Oh.

Yeah, a lot of them. All.

All of the above. All of them.

I mean, fundamentally, we're we're working in a very different technology landscape now compared to six or seven years ago.

And that landscape keeps evolving.

And yeah, if anything, I do think that what we were implementing at the time, we were a little bit early and if we had access to all the things that are available today, how difficult things would be a lot easier.

Yeah, well it would be.

It's difficult things related to actually building and launching and scaling your product.

But also I always come back to the email security example, things of just like scaling your business and making sure as your team grows that everyone can stay safe and secure stuff that, you know, there's some folks that maybe enjoy thinking about it, but I'm guessing for you, like thinking about what email security to provide you or how to how to secure inboxes was probably not.

I mean, the most important thing is how quickly can you get to market and test your hypothesis.

And the most important thing when you're always going to make adjustments, no plan survives first contact in battle.

And so the sooner you can get relevant data in order to make course corrections, the easier a time you will have.

You don't want to be in the position where you are, where you're holed up in your room working on something and you emerge six months or a year later with something that it isn't necessarily what what people need or find useful.

You want to get that data as quickly as you can and get user feedback, get actionable user feedback as quickly as you can in order to course correct, but also not be on the.

Have you ever seen that meme where someone says like, yes, ship quickly, fail fast, and there's a photo of a burnt pizza?

The conclusion, no demand for pizza.

You don't want to be in that camp either.

That's so funny.

That's very, very true. And you want to validate your hypothesis in a meaningful way as quickly as possible is the real answer.

And you want to not burn a ton of time doing that so that you have more at bats.

Definitely not too many pizzas.

I mean, like if you have if you serve a burnt pizza like that, the answer is like nobody wants a burnt pizza.

It's not that nobody wanted pizza.

That actually I mean, both of these announcements today, it sort of just comes back to the point you made about being able to get to market faster, to find product market fit, being able to iterate and really find the right niche for your business.

Right. And so we're trying to do our part to it to at least make it a little easier for you to do that as a founder.

I mean, anything that increases developer velocity is going to be a major edge, and anything that increases your performance is also going to be a major edge.

Yeah.

That's true. Have you?

We've had a lot of great companies apply to our startup plan over the last year or so.

Are there any that you think of that really sort of represent the kind of benefits you can get out of using classic products?

I think Nine Tail that I had mentioned briefly earlier, they are a product landing page customization platform.

You can use them as a contentful plug in.

They're built entirely on Workers.

You can basically if you're if you're on a marketing team, you can change how the appearance or the copy on a product landing page or images or anything and you can change it based on which campaign they came from.

So you can do segmentation of audience that way.

They're built entirely on workers and that's and they just raised a pretty healthy sized seed round.

That's pretty exciting. Super Base is a open source alternative to Firebase.

They also came in through the program originally through Digital Ocean's hatch program, but also through by sea.

That's been a super interesting company.

Jam Dev is also really awesome.

Fun fact, the founders, Deni Grant and Irtefa are both Cloudflare alumni who left to build a product that they themselves would have wanted to use, which is something that makes it super easy to report bugs without changing your workflow.

And so you can put something in staging and give let people give their feedback very quickly.

There's let's see.

Oh, yes.

Neverland, which is a marketplace for plants. They're getting they're using a lot of really cool image optimization to build a marketplace for plants.

And you can filter by what works in your local location, your location, and the amount of sun or shade required.

And also they're a startup.

I'm personally shopping for plants right now.

Me too.

I've looked at it. I've used a couple different products and so far all my friends have died.

But I'm looking for one that can can tolerate my lack of a green thumb. That's cool.

The sort of interesting thing is the startups. You mentioned a few of them.

They're in every different vertical.

Exactly.

Yeah. And so I think oftentimes, you know.

A lot of these use cases are sort of they make really obvious sense for somebody like Workers and a bunch of our other products.

But even something like Neverland really encompasses plants does it really, they're not necessarily it could be selling to developers, but I wouldn't call them a toy.

And for them to actually get a lot of value out of our out of our products is super interesting to see.

So, Mia, you've you've been on the other side of the table from startup founders earlier in your career.

When you back when you were in venture.

Can you can you tell a little give a little bit of advice to early stage startup founders on what it was, you know, what it was like for you.

How, how did you select which startups to to pass to the partner level.

Yeah.

So during my time in venture, I focus mostly on enterprise software, particularly on security for product type businesses and for them, a lot of the companies that had some of the most compelling pitches, one of the things that they talk about is just a differentiated, just sort of a deeply ingrained cultural thing is just how quickly they're they're able to build and ship, right.

And a lot more elude to why they're able to do that.

And oftentimes it's because they found some really interesting way to leverage some product out there.

And we're seeing this a lot more now that I'm at. I hear this every day of companies finding some way to use Workers or any of our other products to just, again, get to market faster, have a more stable, reliable, privacy oriented product.

Right.

So hearing about infrastructure actually in a VC pitch meeting is not as uncommon as you would think and not as boring as you would think.

I know for me that was something to me that just was an indicator that the founders of the team were being really thoughtful about how to be scrappy, how to move quickly, how to do, and also the most cost effective thing.

We actually really take a lot of pride in making sure that for startups that use our startup plans and apply this Workers launchpad is that you're not going to be stuck with some surprise massive bill a couple of years down the road and you know, at that point it'll be either too late or too expensive to migrate off that.

That's just not really our M.O. and we try to make sure that the products are priced as quickly as humanly possible.

I think for anyone watching with these clever products, hopefully that's the experience we've had as well, something we try really hard to do.

And so.

That's a bit especially on this side. The other thing actually I'll mention is my time was with years ago now.

But if I think about startups today, right.

We all know things economically around the world are in a weird place right now.

Right.

And I think obviously now it's probably just even more important to be prudent and careful about how you invest in your growth.

Right.

And so access to our startup plan is a big cost saving and also lets you move faster.

But also if I think about the Workers launchpad and being able to have the opportunity to pitch some of the best VCs in the world, I know for me I was in London, in New York City before.

There's much of a venture scene there and I hear this a lot of great earlier talking to founder out in Nova Scotia who was telling me like not a huge VC community out there.

And for founders who haven't been through this before and don't already have a network out in the Bay Area or New York or Texas or London, it's really tough.

And so this is just a really a really great way to give visibility and access to some of the VCs and really leading and just generally smart and nice people, VCs that are that are involved.

Yeah, those are a pretty, pretty long ramble to your question.

I think just having been in the shoes of an investor being at Cloudflare, working on this program and working on M&A, there's just a lot of I've been impressed by with startups and how.

It can be scrappy.

And I think this is a good tool in that toolbox.

Oh, absolutely.

Being scrappy is part of part of our DNA and part of the part of the necessary part of the necessary strategy for all of most, if not all, start ups.

And, you know, yeah, it's the funding environment is extremely challenging for anybody outside of a major tech hub.

And so, yeah, as I've seen startup founders sort of wrestle with the problem of do I want to be in a major tech hub, the cost of living are always higher.

And also in not every case, you know, does it make sense for us to be there because that's not where all our users are.

Like if you're if you're building if you're building something, an application for farmers, maybe it makes sense for you to be closer to where your users are because that's that makes for a faster iteration cycle in terms of building your product for them and, and getting user feedback more quickly and adjusting.

But then it becomes inconvenient to, to also spend time fundraising because of the travel time that it takes to get to a major tech hub.

And yeah, I think it makes absolute sense for us to try to level the playing field as much as we can to make sure that any communities outside of major tech hubs also aren't at a severe disadvantage.

Yeah, I mean, it often feels like life in general, not philosophically, but especially as a startup founder, employer, there's all kinds of different tradeoffs, right?

Whether it's where where you're going to live and have your company based.

So, you know, anything we can do to try to reduce the sort of trade offs that you have to make to be able to have the best of all worlds.

We try to do.

Absolutely.

I know we were a little long in time, I guess.

Anything else about the starter plan that that you want folks to know about?

This is super exciting.

Just looking at the list of the very long list of products that are available now.

This is incredibly exciting. Is there any other information you'd want folks to have and where do they go to sign up?

They go to Cloudflare.

Com slash for startups for the vast majority of.

For the vast majority of accelerator programs, their accelerator program may have their own vendor profile link to instructions to sign up.

And if you're not part of an accelerator program or even if you are you, you lose nothing from also applying for the Workers launchpad.

And if you're not in a program, just apply for launchpad and then you also get the startup.

Plan and it takes less than 5 minutes.

It's all boilerplate that you probably already written for or something along the way.

Exactly.

And if you haven't there, they're easy things to copy and paste. So hopefully this is painless as possible.

I'll just mention again to the Launchpad page, which is cloudflare.com/lp/workers- launchpad, all LinkedIn blog posts.

Yes.

All right. Awesome having the segment with you, Mia.

Yeah, likewise.

Good to see you as always.

Thumbnail image for video "Birthday Week"

Birthday Week
2023 marks Cloudflare’s 13th birthday! Each day this week we will announce new products and host fascinating discussions with guests including product experts, customers, and industry peers. Be sure to head to the Birthday Week Hub for every blog...
Watch more episodes