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Helping entrepreneurs grow with Hatch: DigitalOcean for startups program

Posted: October 20, 20225 min read

In 2017, we launched DigitalOcean Hatch to help founders realize their dreams of entrepreneurship. In turn, those startups have helped shape the ecosystem for technical founders. Since then, thousands of businesses have started with Hatch. The startup program team looks to go beyond just offering cloud infrastructure credits. We want to provide founders with an educational and networking experience that will add value to their startup for the long term. With an eye on continuous improvement, we surveyed close to 700 Hatch participants to better understand the needs of technical founders. Time to share what we learned.

What is Hatch?

Hatch is an online founder program designed to help startups grow to scale. Cloud infrastructure can be one of the largest expenses facing these companies as they begin to grow. With Hatch, startups receive access to both DigitalOcean credit and a range of other resources like technical advice.

DigitalOcean Hatch has supported over 8,000 startups since the program was established in 2016. The program offers members up to $50,000 of DigitalOcean credit (the actual amount varies by partner organization), special events and swag, and opportunities for co-marketing with DigitalOcean. The program also offers various support services such as technical sessions, access to mentorship opportunities, solutions engineering, and founder-focused events. Members also receive special discounts on critical business services from leading SaaS providers, like Cloudflare, SendGrid/Twilio, Notion, Hubspot, and more.

Our goal with Hatch is to give back to the startup ecosystem and provide support to founders around the world so they can focus on building their businesses and not worry about managing tech infrastructure. Having come through the Techstars program ourselves, we know just how valuable this support network can be.

Hatch survey results

Our team sent a survey to Hatch participants in order to learn more about the Hatch community and how they use DigitalOcean. We received 688 responses from participants who were eager to share their experiences with the Hatch program and the DigitalOcean platform. We were excited to learn that the vast majority of the Hatch community is satisfied with their experiences and want to continue building on DigitalOcean.

Early-stage startups benefit from Hatch

We’ve made it our mission to help startups grow in the cloud at an early stage of their lifecycles. In fact, almost half of the startups that Hatch supports have five or fewer employees, and over three-fourths have 20 or fewer.

employee count

Looking at funding rounds raised by Hatch startups tells a similar story: two-thirds of our startups have raised a seed round or less (though we’re excited to see some of our Hatch alumni starting to raise series A, B, or even bigger rounds).

employee count

By providing startups with platform usage credits, partner discounts, and technical help, Hatch has been tailored to support earlier-stage businesses when they need support the most. Across our entire program, startups are so satisfied with Hatch that a vast majority of our program participants choose to stay with DigitalOcean even after the program ends, with approximately 65% of Hatch users maintaining their infrastructure on our cloud after the program ends.

Startups have embraced multi-cloud

We were curious about how startups used DigitalOcean, so we asked our Hatch community about their cloud infrastructure setups. Startups were asked if they used only DigitalOcean, hybrid infrastructure (DigitalOcean plus on-prem infrastructure), multi-cloud infrastructure (mirrored setups on DigitalOcean and elsewhere), or multiple infrastructure providers, including DigitalOcean. A third of Hatch startups use only DigitalOcean for their cloud infrastructure needs—more than any other cloud setup.

multi-cloud

Hatch program participants plan to increase their cloud spending

Over half of our startups also planned on growing their cloud budget on DigitalOcean next year. We believe that this success reflects the power of our program and our partner ecosystem in allowing startups to scale up quickly and easily.

spend

Finally, we were excited to see that of the startups who plan on reducing their cloud budget next year, 41%—a large plurality—are doing so because cost optimization on DigitalOcean has helped them cut costs.

DigitalOcean spend

Remote + Hybrid is here to stay

As our community continues to grow, we’re looking to provide content, events, and support around specific and relevant topics in the Hatch network. One important discovery we made is that most of our community is not ready to return to only in-person events—our startups indicated that they would prefer hybrid and virtual events to in-person events by a large margin.

engagement results

There were also a mix of topics that startups wanted to learn more about, with startup fundraising and containers / Docker technologies leading the pack, followed by DevOps, security, and newer technologies like serverless.

interested in learning results

Our startups have been vocal about what they need to be successful. They are clear about what a partnership means in an intimate program. We are delighted to share the changes we made in response to their input. In 2022, we adapted our startup onboarding program to help founders quickly orient themselves to their cloud computing options. While many of our founders are ready from the start, a few founders need some assistance accelerating to production-level environments. Our technical assistance includes monthly office hours just for startup founders, direct engagement with our product teams, and solution architects to help founders overcome technical impediments to their business. We added assistance with live sessions on market intelligence, sales, and technical development. Additionally, we realized that the founders in our community love the help they get from other founders. The center of our community is the help they can offer each other. We want to reward this sense of community. We added a referral option to award credit to alumni that refer new founders to DigitalOcean.

We added support for bootstrap startup companies that have funding from investors new to DigitalOcean’s startup partner community. Hatch is a fast-moving program, with most startups getting into the program in 10 business days and offering the flexibility to start the program when it makes sense.

The future of DigitalOcean Hatch

Because we’re always looking for ways to improve our program and our support for startups, we also asked users what they wanted to see in a startup program beyond what Hatch already provides. Here’s what we discovered our startups wanted to see:

  • Technical or DigitalOcean-specific training
  • More webinars
  • Networking opportunities
  • Connections to funding opportunities
  • More or better technical support
  • More offline events or meetups
  • GPU access
  • Platform to feature founders or startups
  • Early access to DO products

Over the next few months, we’ll brainstorm how to improve on these program components. Stay tuned for what’s coming next to DigitalOcean Hatch!

Apply to Hatch

Hatch is available for early-stage startups who are affiliated with an approved accelerator, incubator, or venture capital firm (full list here). Eligible startups must not have received previous promotional credits and must be new DigitalOcean customers.

Learn more about Hatch and fill out our quick application here.

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