How to leverage the cloud to build, scale and grow startups? Takeaways from the AWS Cloud Kata session in Mumbai
If you have been clouded in your head about why cloud computing is such a big deal, then last week’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Kata session at IIT Bombay would have been just the right event for you.
The event, organized in association with YourStory, saw participation from over 200 entrepreneurs and developers from the length and breadth of Mumbai. There were even a few who came from Pune, Surat, Ahmedabad and Indore! The sessions were intended to guide startups and developers through tips, customer testimonials and technical best practices to help them grow faster on the AWS Cloud.
The day started with an early bird training session for developers, covering the basics of AWS services, key benefits and a deep understanding of how these services can be availed. Once all the registrations and formalities were done, the attendees settled down for business-focused discussions on how to leverage the cloud platform at various stages of the startup journey.
For many participants, the information about AWS and its reach across businesses and geographies was part of the learning. And repeated spot polls by the AWS team showed how much more the participants needed to learn about the space.
Did you know that that over two trillion objects stored on Amazon’s S3 service? Or that Amazon Redshift – their fastest growing new service in AWS history-- costs less than USD 1,000 per terabyte per year of use.. It is no wonder then that AWS is useful across the life-cycle of the startup – from idea stage, to MVP, to scale and finally to profitability.
One of the first entrepreneurs to talk about how he used AWS at his venture was Nikhil Soman, co-founder & CEO, Playblazer. Playblazer is Nikhil’s third venture after Zapak.com and BigAdda.com. Since its launch in December 2012, Playblazer has helped launch and scale two well-known game titles – Real Steel and Hunger Games - Catching Fire. Besides demonstrating how Playblazer used AWS at every step of the way, the proof of the pudding was in what Nikhil said at the end of his presentation. Between Real Steel and Hunger Games, Playblazer has handled over 15 lakh daily active users and over 40 million API calls per day, with only a two-member team. Nikhil revealed that his co-founder and he are the only two employees of Playblazer. They work from a virtual office and it is AWS’ offerings that have helped them achieve such aggressive results.
Ashay Padwal, co-founder & CTO of Vserv.mobi spoke about his experiences of using AWS to achieve scale for Vserv. “The higher you invest on innovation within your company, the more benefits you will reap on this investment in the future,” said Ashay in his talk. He spoke in depth about how Vserv used AWS to grow within India and outside. He also delved extensively into how AWS and its various resources came in handy for Vserv.mobi to grow and iterate.
Santanu Dutt and Parijat Mishra of AWS chipped in many of the sessions for in-depth information on different products and offerings from AWS. While the day could only accommodate stories of four ventures which use AWS, many other well-known names like Pinterest, Redbus, Druva, Instagram and NASA are also users of Amazon Web Services.
When Vikram Anand, Founder & CEO of online payment solution startup, Buysmart, took centre stage, he emphasized the possibility of scaling quickly using AWS. After explaining the details of his business, Vikram highlighted AWS’ role in helping scale his venture and how he used the platform to keep up with growing demands of the business.
The formal sessions culminated in a panel discussion on the VC’s view of the startup space and their thoughts on cloud computing. Anand Lunia, Founder Partner at India Quotient, Aakash Goel, VP at Bessemer Venture Partners and Jishnu Bhattacharjee, MD at Nexus Venture Partners were the panelists in the panel that was moderated by Gaurav Arora from AWS. Aakash said that Bessemer definitely looks for a cloud component in every startup that it invests in. Jishnu joked that Nexus were believers of cloud, “when cloud was a very cloudy word.” Aakash shared an insight with the audience about an exercise they have done internally at Bessemer, where they have tracked companies with cloud adoption in the US over the lastfive years. These companies have already earned 100-crore revenues within this short time – thus reiterating the usefulness of having cloud to help businesses.
All panelists were in agreement that cloud services have the potential to be useful to every business. It is not something to be used by companies in a particular sector, but is something that every venture should seriously consider. “When you are building something and you want it to be best in class, then cloud is one way to achieve this,” emphasized Jishnu.
While the panel touched upon some more generic topics related to entrepreneurs and startups, the VC Corner segment which immediately followed the panel discussion was the highlight of the day. Each VC was swamped with eager entrepreneurs trying to understand what their respective ventures look for before investing and how they could get an audience in private with the investor.
While the business folks kept the VCs busy, their developer counterparts tested their new-found knowledge of AWS during a coding challenge and the winner walked away with a very cool prize! There was also a lucky draw for the same prize among those who shared their feedback for the event. Eight other participants won prizes for correctly answering the pop quiz questions held at the event. Two lucky winners also won goodies from AWS partner, BlazeClan, who were exhibiting their offerings at AWS Cloud Kata. Other AWS partners exhibiting at the event were Cloud Cover and Ambab.
For those who were busy this weekend, make sure you make sometime for the next session to be held in Delhi on January 11, 2014, followed by Bangalore on February 8. Cloud is the future and what can be better than learning from the leaders – AWS. Be there to understand in detail how your venture can have a blazing growth story, with some help from AWS.