Sameer Kenkare, Head of corporate VC & innovation, startup business development at Amazon Web Services, is one of the 100 leading corporate venturing professionals in our 2024 Powerlist.

When Amazon invests in a company, the world pays attention. So as head of corporate venture capital and innovation, startup business development at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Sameer Kenkare, who joined the company in 2017, has a lot of responsibility.

AWS has made several high-profile investments in the past 12 months. The most notable was the $4bn it put into AI company Anthropic. The unit also contributed to AI company Hugging Face’s $235m series D funding round, alongside other high-profile investors such as Google, Salesforce and Nvidia. Hugging Face provides an infrastructure to build, run and deploy AI applications. AWS also partnered with Hugging Face to make generative AI more accessible and cost efficient. AI takes a lot of compute power and the AWS partnership is an example of how corporates can bring tangible, real assistance to a startup’s deliverables.

“We realised early on that there were more meaningful ways to help startups beyond just equity dilutive capital”

“Amazon thinks about investing in startups in more than one way,” says Kenkare. “AWS was born as a startup and we realised early on that there were more meaningful ways to help startups beyond just equity dilutive capital. Through AWS Activate, we have provided more than $6bn in credits to startups around the globe, to help them build their solutions in the cloud. More than 280,000 startups worldwide have used AWS Activate on their cloud journey.”

Kenkare heads up the development and implementation of a comprehensive global strategy. He also focuses on expanding and enhancing startup verticals in sectors such as travel, hospitality, energy, power and utilities.

Prior to joining Amazon, Kenkare co-founded and directed the Fintech Innovation Group at American Express. His academic background includes a master’s degree in finance and mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an engineering degree in IT from the University of Mumbai.

Powerlist cover

The Global Corporate Venturing Powerlist represents the 100
individuals spearheading the future of the corporate venturing industry.

These individuals excel in terms of their venturing approach and structure, number and quality of portfolio companies and in their contributions to the corporate venturing profession.

See the full 2024 Powerlist here.