Spring is here, the flowers are blooming and Tina Barr is back with more great startups for you to check out!
Welcome back to another month of hot AWS-powered startups! Today we have three exciting startups:
- Beekeeper – simplifying employee communication in the workplace.
- Betterment – making investing easier for everyone.
- ClearSlide – a leading sales engagement platform.
Be sure to check out our March hot startups in case you missed them.
Beekeeper (Zurich, Switzerland)
Flavio Pfaffhauser and Christian Grossmann, both graduates of ETH Zurich, were passionate about building a technology that would connect and bring people together. What started as a student’s social community soon turned into Beekeeper – a communication platform for the workplace that allows employees to interact wherever they are. As Flavio and Christian learned how to build a social platform that engaged people properly, businesses began requesting a platform that could be adapted to their specific processes and needs. The platform started with the concept of helping people feel as if they are sitting right next to each other, whether they’re at a desk or in the field. Founded in 2012, Beekeeper is focused on improving information sharing, communication and peer collaboration, and the company strongly believes that listening to employees is crucial for organizations.
The “Mobile First, Desktop Friendly” platform has a simple and intuitive interface that easily integrates multiple operating systems into one ecosystem. The interface can be styled and customized to match a company’s brand and identity. Employees can connect with their colleagues anytime and anywhere with private and group chats, video and file sharing, and feedback surveys. With Beekeeper’s analytical dashboard leadership teams can identify trending topics of discussion and track employee engagement and app usage in real-time. Beekeeper is currently connecting users in 137 countries across industries including hospitality, construction, transportation, and more.
Beekeeper likes using AWS because it allows their engineers to focus on the things that really matter; solving customer issues. The company builds its infrastructure using services like Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, and Amazon RDS, all of which allow the technical teams to offload administrative tasks. Amazon Elastic Transcoder and Amazon QuickSight are used to build analytical dashboards and Amazon Redshift for data warehousing.
Check out the Beekeeper blog to keep up with their latest news!
Betterment (New York, NY)
Betterment is on a mission to make investing easier and more accessible for everyone, no matter their financial goal. In 2008, Jon Stein founded Betterment with the intent to reinvent the industry and save future investors from making the same common mistakes he had been making. At that time, most people only had a couple of options when it came to investing their money – either do it yourself or hire another person to do it for you. Unfortunately, financial advisors are sometimes paid to recommend certain investments even if it’s not what is best for their clients. Betterment only chooses investments that are in their customer’s best interest and align with their financial goals. Today, they are the largest, independent online investment advisor managing more than $8 billion in assets for over 240,000 customers.
Betterment uses technology to make investing easier and more efficient, while also helping to increase after-tax returns. They offer a wide range of financial planning services that are personalized to their customer’s life goals. To start an investment plan, customers can input their age, retirement status, and annual income and Betterment will recommend how much money to invest and which type of account is the right choice. They will invest and manage it in a way that many traditional investment services can’t at a lower cost.
The engineers at Betterment are constantly working to build industry-changing technology as quickly as possible to help customers maximize their money. AWS gives Betterment the flexibility to easily provision infrastructure and offload functions to various services that once required entire teams to manage. When they first started in the cloud, Betterment was using standard implementations of Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, and Amazon S3. Since they’ve gone all in with AWS, they have been leveraging services like Amazon Redshift, AWS Lambda, AWS Database Migration Service, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon DynamoDB, and more. Today, they are using over 20 AWS services to develop, test, and deploy features and enhancements on a daily basis.
ClearSlide (San Francisco, CA)
ClearSlide is one of today’s leading sales engagement platforms, offering a complete and integrated tool that makes every customer interaction successful. Since their founding in 2009, ClearSlide has looked for ways to improve customer experiences and have developed numerous enablement tools for sales leaders and teams, marketing, customer support teams, and more. The platform puts content, communication channels, and insights at their customer’s fingertips to help drive better decisions and manage opportunities. ClearSlide serves thousands of companies including Comcast, the Sacramento Kings, The Economist, and so far their customers have generated over 750 million minutes of engagement!
ClearSlide offers a solution for all parts of the sales process. For sales leaders, ClearSlide provides engagement dashboards to improve deal visibility, coaching, and sales forecast accuracy. For marketing and sales enablement teams, they guide sellers to the right content, at the right time, in the right context, and provide insight to maximize content ROI. For sales reps, ClearSlide integrates communications, content, and analytics in a single platform experience. Communications can be made across email, in-person or online meetings, web, or social. Today, ClearSlide customers report a 10-20% increase in closed deals, 25% decrease in onboarding time for new reps, and a 50-80% reduction in selling costs.
ClearSlide uses a range of AWS services, but Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS have made the biggest impact on their business. EC2 enables them to easily scale compute capacity, which is critical for a fast-growing startup. It also provides consistency during deployment – from development and integration to staging and production. RDS reduces overhead and allows ClearSlide to scale their database infrastructure. Since AWS takes care of time-consuming database management tasks, ClearSlide sees a reduction in operations costs and can focus on being more strategic with their customers.
Thanks for checking out another month of awesome AWS-powered startups!
As the madness of March rounds up, take a break from all the basketball and check out the cool startups Tina Barr brings you for this month!
The arrival of spring brings five new startups this month:
- Amino Apps – providing social networks for hundreds of thousands of communities.
- Appboy – empowering brands to strengthen customer relationships.
- Arterys – revolutionizing the medical imaging industry.
- Protenus – protecting patient data for healthcare organizations.
- Syapse – improving targeted cancer care with shared data from across the country.
In case you missed them, check out February’s hot startups here.
Amino Apps (New York, NY)
Amino Apps was founded on the belief that interest-based communities were underdeveloped and outdated, particularly when it came to mobile. CEO Ben Anderson and CTO Yin Wang created the app to give users access to hundreds of thousands of communities, each of them a complete social network dedicated to a single topic. Some of the largest communities have over 1 million members and are built around topics like popular TV shows, video games, sports, and an endless number of hobbies and other interests. Amino hosts communities from around the world and is currently available in six languages with many more on the way.
Navigating the Amino app is easy. Simply download the app (iOS or Android), sign up with a valid email address, choose a profile picture, and start exploring. Users can search for communities and join any that fit their interests. Each community has chatrooms, multimedia content, quizzes, and a seamless commenting system. If a community doesn’t exist yet, users can create it in minutes using the Amino Creator and Manager app (ACM). The largest user-generated communities are turned into their own apps, which gives communities their own piece of real estate on members’ phones, as well as in app stores.
Amino’s vast global network of hundreds of thousands of communities is run on AWS services. Every day users generate, share, and engage with an enormous amount of content across hundreds of mobile applications. By leveraging AWS services including Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon S3, Amazon SQS, and Amazon CloudFront, Amino can continue to provide new features to their users while scaling their service capacity to keep up with user growth.
Interested in joining Amino? Check out their jobs page here.
Appboy (New York, NY)
In 2011, Bill Magnuson, Jon Hyman, and Mark Ghermezian saw a unique opportunity to strengthen and humanize relationships between brands and their customers through technology. The trio created Appboy to empower brands to build long-term relationships with their customers and today they are the leading lifecycle engagement platform for marketing, growth, and engagement teams. The team recognized that as rapid mobile growth became undeniable, many brands were becoming frustrated with the lack of compelling and seamless cross-channel experiences offered by existing marketing clouds. Many of today’s top mobile apps and enterprise companies trust Appboy to take their marketing to the next level. Appboy manages user profiles for nearly 700 million monthly active users, and is used to power more than 10 billion personalized messages monthly across a multitude of channels and devices.
Appboy creates a holistic user profile that offers a single view of each customer. That user profile in turn powers contextual cross-channel messaging, lifecycle engagement automation, and robust campaign insights and optimization opportunities. Appboy offers solutions that allow brands to create push notifications, targeted emails, in-app and in-browser messages, news feed cards, and webhooks to enhance the user experience and increase customer engagement. The company prides itself on its interoperability, connecting to a variety of complimentary marketing tools and technologies so brands can build the perfect stack to enable their strategies and experiments in real time.
AWS makes it easy for Appboy to dynamically size all of their service components and automatically scale up and down as needed. They use an array of services including Elastic Load Balancing, AWS Lambda, Amazon CloudWatch, Auto Scaling groups, and Amazon S3 to help scale capacity and better deal with unpredictable customer loads.
To keep up with the latest marketing trends and tactics, visit the Appboy digital magazine, Relate. Appboy was also recently featured in the #StartupsOnAir video series where they gave insight into their AWS usage.
Arterys (San Francisco, CA)
Getting test results back from a physician can often be a time consuming and tedious process. Clinicians typically employ a variety of techniques to manually measure medical images and then make their assessments. Arterys founders Fabien Beckers, John Axerio-Cilies, Albert Hsiao, and Shreyas Vasanawala realized that much more computation and advanced analytics were needed to harness all of the valuable information in medical images, especially those generated by MRI and CT scanners. Clinicians were often skipping measurements and making assessments based mostly on qualitative data. Their solution was to start a cloud/AI software company focused on accelerating data-driven medicine with advanced software products for post-processing of medical images.
Arterys’ products provide timely, accurate, and consistent quantification of images, improve speed to results, and improve the quality of the information offered to the treating physician. This allows for much better tracking of a patient’s condition, and thus better decisions about their care. Advanced analytics, such as deep learning and distributed cloud computing, are used to process images. The first Arterys product can contour cardiac anatomy as accurately as experts, but takes only 15-20 seconds instead of the 45-60 minutes required to do it manually. Their computing cloud platform is also fully HIPAA compliant.
Arterys relies on a variety of AWS services to process their medical images. Using deep learning and other advanced analytic tools, Arterys is able to render images without latency over a web browser using AWS G2 instances. They use Amazon EC2 extensively for all of their compute needs, including inference and rendering, and Amazon S3 is used to archive images that aren’t needed immediately, as well as manage costs. Arterys also employs Amazon Route 53, AWS CloudTrail, and Amazon EC2 Container Service.
Protenus (Baltimore, MD)
Protenus founders Nick Culbertson and Robert Lord were medical students at Johns Hopkins Medical School when they saw first-hand how Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems could be used to improve patient care and share clinical data more efficiently. With increased efficiency came a huge issue – an onslaught of serious security and privacy concerns. Over the past two years, 140 million medical records have been breached, meaning that approximately 1 in 3 Americans have had their health data compromised. Health records contain a repository of sensitive information and a breach of that data can cause major havoc in a patient’s life – namely identity theft, prescription fraud, Medicare/Medicaid fraud, and improper performance of medical procedures. Using their experience and knowledge from former careers in the intelligence community and involvement in a leading hedge fund, Nick and Robert developed the prototype and algorithms that launched Protenus.
Today, Protenus offers a number of solutions that detect breaches and misuse of patient data for healthcare organizations nationwide. Using advanced analytics and AI, Protenus’ health data insights platform understands appropriate vs. inappropriate use of patient data in the EHR. It also protects privacy, aids compliance with HIPAA regulations, and ensures trust for patients and providers alike.
Protenus built and operates its SaaS offering atop Amazon EC2, where Dedicated Hosts and encrypted Amazon EBS volume are used to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulation for the storage of Protected Health Information. They use Elastic Load Balancing and Amazon Route 53 for DNS, enabling unique, secure client specific access points to their Protenus instance.
To learn more about threats to patient data, read Hospitals’ Biggest Threat to Patient Data is Hiding in Plain Sight on the Protenus blog. Also be sure to check out their recent video in the #StartupsOnAir series for more insight into their product.
Syapse (Palo Alto, CA)
Syapse provides a comprehensive software solution that enables clinicians to treat patients with precision medicine for targeted cancer therapies — treatments that are designed and chosen using genetic or molecular profiling. Existing hospital IT doesn’t support the robust infrastructure and clinical workflows required to treat patients with precision medicine at scale, but Syapse centralizes and organizes patient data to clinicians at the point of care. Syapse offers a variety of solutions for oncologists that allow them to access the full scope of patient data longitudinally, view recommended treatments or clinical trials for similar patients, and track outcomes over time. These solutions are helping health systems across the country to improve patient outcomes by offering the most innovative care to cancer patients.
Leading health systems such as Stanford Health Care, Providence St. Joseph Health, and Intermountain Healthcare are using Syapse to improve patient outcomes, streamline clinical workflows, and scale their precision medicine programs. A group of experts known as the Molecular Tumor Board (MTB) reviews complex cases and evaluates patient data, documents notes, and disseminates treatment recommendations to the treating physician. Syapse also provides reports that give health system staff insight into their institution’s oncology care, which can be used toward quality improvement, business goals, and understanding variables in the oncology service line.
Syapse uses Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, Amazon EC2 Dedicated Instances, and Amazon Elastic Block Store to build a high-performance, scalable, and HIPAA-compliant data platform that enables health systems to make precision medicine part of routine cancer care for patients throughout the country.
Be sure to check out the Syapse blog to learn more and also their recent video on the #StartupsOnAir video series where they discuss their product, HIPAA compliance, and more about how they are using AWS.
Thank you for checking out another month of awesome hot startups!
As we finish up the month of February, Tina Barr is back with some awesome startups.
This month we are bringing you five innovative hot startups:
- GumGum – Creating and popularizing the field of in-image advertising.
- Jiobit – Smart tags to help parents keep track of kids.
- Parsec – Offers flexibility in hardware and location for PC gamers.
- Peloton – Revolutionizing indoor cycling and fitness classes at home.
- Tendril – Reducing energy consumption for homeowners.
If you missed any of our January startups, make sure to check them out here.
GumGum (Santa Monica, CA)
GumGum is best known for inventing and popularizing the field of in-image advertising. Founded in 2008 by Ophir Tanz, the company is on a mission to unlock the value held within the vast content produced daily via social media, editorials, and broadcasts in a variety of industries. GumGum powers campaigns across more than 2,000 premium publishers, which are seen by over 400 million users.
In-image advertising was pioneered by GumGum and has given companies a platform to deliver highly visible ads to a place where the consumer’s attention is already focused. Using image recognition technology, GumGum delivers targeted placements as contextual overlays on related pictures, as banners that fit on all screen sizes, or as In-Feed placements that blend seamlessly into the surrounding content. Using Visual Intelligence, GumGum can scour social media and broadcast TV for all images and videos related to a brand, allowing companies to gain a stronger understanding of their audience and how they are relating to that brand on social media.
GumGum relies on AWS for its Image Processing and Ad Serving operations. Using AWS infrastructure, GumGum currently processes 13 million requests per minute across the globe and generates 30 TB of new data every day. The company uses a suite of services including but not limited to Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon EMR, AWS Data Pipeline, and Amazon SNS. AWS edge locations allow GumGum to serve its customers in the US, Europe, Australia, and Japan and the company has plans to expand its infrastructure to Australia and APAC regions in the future.
For a look inside GumGum’s startup culture, check out their first Hackathon!
Jiobit (Chicago, IL)
Jiobit was inspired by a real event that took place in a crowded Chicago park. A couple of summers ago, John Renaldi experienced every parent’s worst nightmare – he lost track of his then 6-year-old son in a public park for almost 30 minutes. John knew he wasn’t the only parent with this problem. After months of research, he determined that over 50% of parents have had a similar experience and an even greater percentage are actively looking for a way to prevent it.
Jiobit is the world’s smallest and longest lasting smart tag that helps parents keep track of their kids in every location – indoors and outdoors. The small device is kid-proof: lightweight, durable, and waterproof. It acts as a virtual “safety harness” as it uses a combination of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Multiple Cellular Networks, GPS, and sensors to provide accurate locations in real-time. Jiobit can automatically learn routes and locations, and will send parents an alert if their child does not arrive at their destination on time. The talented team of experienced engineers, designers, marketers, and parents has over 150 patents and has shipped dozens of hardware and software products worldwide.
The Jiobit team is utilizing a number of AWS services in the development of their product. Security is critical to the overall product experience, and they are over-engineering security on both the hardware and software side with the help of AWS. Jiobit is also working towards being the first child monitoring device that will have implemented an Alexa Skill via the Amazon Echo device (see here for a demo!). The devices use AWS IoT to send and receive data from the Jio Cloud over the MQTT protocol. Once data is received, they use AWS Lambda to parse the received data and take appropriate actions, including storing relevant data using Amazon DynamoDB, and sending location data to Amazon Machine Learning processing jobs.
Visit the Jiobit blog for more information.
Parsec (New York, NY)
Parsec operates under the notion that everyone should have access to the best computing in the world because access to technology creates endless opportunities. Founded in 2016 by Benjy Boxer and Chris Dickson, Parsec aims to eliminate the burden of hardware upgrades that users frequently experience by building the technology to make a computer in the cloud available anywhere, at any time. Today, they are using their technology to enable greater flexibility in the hardware and location that PC gamers choose to play their favorite games on. Check out this interview with Benjy and our Startups team for a look at how Parsec works.
Parsec built their first product to improve the gaming experience; gamers no longer have to purchase consoles or expensive PCs to access the entertainment they love. Their low latency video streaming and networking technologies allow gamers to remotely access their gaming rig and play on any Windows, Mac, Android, or Raspberry Pi device. With the global reach of AWS, Parsec is able to deliver cloud gaming to the median user in the US and Europe with less than 30 milliseconds of network latency.
Parsec users currently have two options available to start gaming with cloud resources. They can either set up their own machines with the Parsec AMI in their region or rely on Parsec to manage everything for a seamless experience. In either case, Parsec uses the g2.2xlarge EC2 instance type. Parsec is using Amazon Elastic Block Storage to store games, Amazon DynamoDB for scalability, and Amazon EC2 for its web servers and various APIs. They also deal with a high volume of logs and take advantage of the Amazon Elasticsearch Service to analyze the data.
Be sure to check out Parsec’s blog to keep up with the latest news.
Peloton (New York, NY)
The idea for Peloton was born in 2012 when John Foley, Founder and CEO, and his wife Jill started realizing the challenge of balancing work, raising young children, and keeping up with personal fitness. This is a common challenge people face – they want to work out, but there are a lot of obstacles that stand in their way. Peloton offers a solution that enables people to join indoor cycling and fitness classes anywhere, anytime.
Peloton has created a cutting-edge indoor bike that streams up to 14 hours of live classes daily and has over 4,000 on-demand classes. Users can access live classes from world-class instructors from the convenience of their home or gym. The bike tracks progress with in-depth ride metrics and allows people to compete in real-time with other users who have taken a specific ride. The live classes even feature top DJs that play current playlists to keep users motivated.
With an aggressive marketing campaign, which has included high-visibility TV advertising, Peloton made the decision to run its entire platform in the cloud. Most recently, they ran an ad during an NFL playoff game and their rate of requests per minute to their site increased from ~2k/min to ~32.2k/min within 60 seconds. As they continue to grow and diversify, they are utilizing services such as Amazon S3 for thousands of hours of archived on-demand video content, Amazon Redshift for data warehousing, and Application Load Balancer for intelligent request routing.
Learn more about Peloton’s engineering team here.
Tendril (Boulder, CO)
Tendril was founded in 2004 with the goal of helping homeowners better manage and reduce their energy consumption. Today, electric and gas utilities use Tendril’s data analytics platform on more than 140 million homes to deliver a personalized energy experience for consumers around the world. Using the latest technology in decision science and analytics, Tendril can gain access to real-time, ever evolving data about energy consumers and their homes so they can improve customer acquisition, increase engagement, and orchestrate home energy experiences. In turn, Tendril helps its customers unlock the true value of energy interactions.
AWS helps Tendril run its services globally, while scaling capacity up and down as needed, and in real-time. This has been especially important in support of Tendril’s newest solution, Orchestrated Energy, a continuous demand management platform that calculates a home’s thermal mass, predicts consumer behavior, and integrates with smart thermostats and other connected home devices. This solution allows millions of consumers to create a personalized energy plan for their home based on their individual needs.
Tendril builds and maintains most of its infrastructure services with open sources tools running on Amazon EC2 instances, while also making use of AWS services such as Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon API Gateway, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53, Amazon Simple Queue Service, and Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL.
Visit the Tendril Blog for more information!
— Tina Barr
It is the start of a new year and Tina Barr is back with many more great new startups to check out.
Welcome back to another year of hot AWS-powered startups! We have three exciting new startups today:
- ClassDojo – Connecting teachers, students, and parents to the classroom.
- Nubank – A financial services startup reimagining the banking experience.
- Ravelin – A fraud detection company built on machine learning models.
If you missed any of last year’s featured startups, be sure to check out our Year in Review.
ClassDojo (San Francisco)
Founded in 2011 by Liam Don and Sam Chaudhary, ClassDojo is a communication platform for the classroom. Teachers, parents, and students can use it throughout the day as a place to share important moments through photos, videos and messaging. With many classrooms today operating as a one-size-fits-all model, the ClassDojo founders wanted to improve the education system and connect the 700 million primary age kids in the world to the very best content and services. Sam and Liam started out by asking teachers what they would find most helpful for their classrooms, and many expressed that they wanted a more caring and inclusive community – one where they could be connected to everyone who was part of their classroom. With ClassDojo, teachers are able to create their own classroom culture in partnership with students and their parents.
In five years, ClassDojo has expanded to 90% of K-8 schools in the US and 180 other countries, and their content has been translated into over 35 languages. Recently, they have expanded further into classrooms with video series on Empathy and Growth Mindset that were co-created with Harvard and Stanford. These videos have now been seen by 1 in 3 kids under the age of 14 in the U.S. One of their products called Stories allows for instantly updated streams of pictures and videos from the school day, all of which are shared at home with parents. Students can even create their own stories – a timeline or portfolio of what they’ve learned.
Because ClassDojo sees heavy usage during the school day and across many global time zones, their traffic patterns are highly variable. Amazon EC2 autoscaling allows them to meet demand while controlling costs during quieter periods. Their data pipeline is built entirely on AWS – Amazon Kinesis allows them to stream high volumes of data into Amazon Redshift for analysis and into Amazon S3 for archival. They also utilize Amazon Aurora and Amazon RDS to store sensitive relational data, which makes at-rest encryption easy to manage, while scaling to meet very high query volumes with incredibly low latency. All of ClassDojo’s web frontends are hosted on Amazon S3 and served through Amazon CloudFront, and they use AWS WAF rules to secure their frontends against attacks and unauthorized access. To detect fraudulent accounts they have used Amazon Machine Learning, and are also exploring the new Amazon Lex service to provide voice control so that teachers can use their products hands-free in the classroom.
Check out their blog to see how teachers across the world are using ClassDojo in their classrooms!
Nubank is a technology-driven financial services startup that is working to redefine the banking standard in Brazil. Founder David Vélez with a team of over 350 engineers, scientists, designers, and analysts, they have created a banking alternative in one of the world’s fastest growing mobile markets. Not only is Brazil the world’s 5th largest country in both area and population, but it also has one of the highest credit card interest rates in the world. Nubank has reimagined the credit card experience for a world where everyone has access to smartphones and offers a product customers haven’t seen before.
The Brazilian banking industry is both heavily regulated and extremely concentrated. Nubank saw an opportunity for companies that are truly customer-centric and have better data and technology to compete in an industry that has seen little innovation in decades. With Nubank’s mobile app customers are able to block and unblock their credit cards, change their credit limits, pay their bills, and have access to all of their purchases in real time. They also offer 24/7 customer support through digital channels and clear and simple communication. This was previously unheard of in Brazil’s banking industry, and Nubank’s services have been extremely well-received by customers.
From the start, Nubank’s leaders planned for growth. They wanted to build a system that could meet the ever changing regulatory and business rules, have full auditing capability and scale in both size and complexity. They use many AWS services including Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, and AWS CloudFormation. By using AWS, Nubank developed its credit card processing platform in only seven months and are able to add features with ease.
Go to Nubank’s blog for more information!
Launched in 2015, Ravelin is a fraud detection company that works with many leading e-commerce and on-demand companies in a range of sectors including travel, retail, food delivery, ticketing, and transport. The company’s founders (Martin Sweeney, Leonard Austin, Mairtain O’Riada, and Nicky Lally) began their work while trying to solve fraud issues in an on-demand taxi business, which required accurate fraud predictions about a customer with limited information and then making that fraud decision almost instantly. They soon found that there was nothing on the market that was able to do this, and so the founders left to start Ravelin.
Ravelin allows its clients to spend less time on manual reviews and instead focus on servicing their customers. Their machine learning models are built to predict good and bad behavior based on the relevant customer behavioral and payment data sent via API. Spotting bad behavior helps Ravelin to prevent fraud, and equally importantly, spotting good patterns means fewer good customers are being blocked. Ravelin chose machine learning as their core technology due to its incredible accuracy at a speed and scale that aligns with how their clients’ businesses operate.
Ravelin uses a suite of AWS services to help their machine learning algorithms detect fraud. Their clients are spread all over the world and their peak traffic times can be unpredictable so they scale their Amazon EC2 infrastructure multiple times a day, which helps with handling increased traffic while minimizing server costs. Ravelin also uses services such as Amazon RDS, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon ElastiCache, and Amazon Elasticsearch Service. Utilizing these services has allowed the Ravelin team more time to concentrate on building fraud detection software.
For the latest in fraud prevention, be sure to check out Ravelin’s blog!
It is the end of 2016! Tina Barr has a great roundup of all the startups we featured this year. Check it out and see if you managed to read about them all, then come back in January for when we start up all over again.
Also- I wanted to thank Elsa Mayer for her hard work in helping out with the startup posts.
What a year it has been for startups! We began the Hot Startups series in March as a way to feature exciting AWS-powered startups and the motivation behind the products and services they offer. Since then we’ve featured 27 startups across a wide range of industries including healthcare, commerce, social, finance, and many more. Each startup offers a unique product to its users – whether it’s an entertaining app or website, an educational platform, or a product to help businesses grow, startups have the ability to reach customers far and wide.
The startups we showcased this year are headquartered all over the world. Check them out on the map below!
In case you missed any of the posts, here is a list of all the hot startups we featured in 2016:
- Intercom – One place for every team in an Internet business to see and talk
to customers, personally, at scale.
- Tile – A popular key locator product that works with an app to help people find their stuff.
- Bugsnag – A tool to capture and analyze runtime errors in production web and mobile applications.
- DroneDeploy – Making the sky productive and accessible for everyone.
- Robinhood – Free stock trading to democratize access to financial markets.
- Dubsmash – Bringing joy to communication through video
- Sharethrough – An all-in-one native advertising platform.
- Shaadi.com – Helping South Asians to find a companion for life.
- Capillary– Boosting customer engagement for e-commerce.
- Monzo – A mobile-first bank.
- Depop– A social mobile marketplace for artists and friends to buy and sell products.
- Nextdoor – Building stronger and safer neighborhoods through technology.
- Branch – Provides free deep linking technology for mobile app developers to gain and retain users.
- Craftsvilla– Offering a platform to purchase ethnic goods.
- SendBird – Helping developers build 1-on-1 messaging and group chat quickly.
- Teletext.io – A solution for content management, without the system.
- Wavefront– A cloud-based analytics platform.
- Funding Circle – The leading online marketplace for business loans.
- Karhoo– A ride comparison app.
- nearbuy – Connecting customers and local merchants across India.
- Optimizely – Providing web and mobile A/B testing for the world’s leading brands.
- Touch Surgery – Building technologies for the global surgical community.
- WittyFeed – Creating viral content.
- AwareLabs – Helping small businesses build smart websites.
- Doctor On Demand– Delivering fast, easy, and cost-effective access to top healthcare providers.
- Starling Bank – Mobile banking for the next generation.
- VigLink – Powering content-driven commerce.
Thank you for keeping up with us as we shared these startups’ amazing stories throughout the year. Be sure to check back here in January for our first hot startups of 2017!
Tina is back with another impressive set of startups!
This month we are featuring four hot AWS-powered startups:
- AwareLabs – Helping small businesses build smart websites
- Doctor On Demand – Delivering fast, easy, and cost-effective access to top healthcare providers.
- Starling Bank – Mobile banking for the next generation.
- VigLink – Powering content-driven commerce.
Make sure to also check out October’s Hot Startups if you missed it!
AwareLabs is a small, three person startup focused on helping business owners engage their customers through dozens of integrated applications. The startup was born in November 2011 and began as a website building guide that helped hundreds of entrepreneurs within its first few weeks. Early on, founder Paul Kenjora recognized that small businesses were being slowed down by existing business solutions, and in 2013 he took on the task of creating a business centric website builder. After attending an AWS seminar, Paul realized that small teams could design and deploy massive infrastructure just as well as heavily funded, high-tech companies. Previously, only big companies or heavy investment allowed for that type of scale. With the help of AwareLabs, small businesses with limited time and budgets can build the smart websites they need.
The AwareLabs team relies on AWS to achieve what was previously impossible with a team of their size. They’ve been able to raise less capital, move faster, and deliver a solution customers love. AwareLabs leverages Amazon EC2 extensively for everything from running client websites, to maintaining their own secure code repository. Amazon S3 has also been a game changer in offloading the burden of data storage and reliability. This was the single biggest factor in letting the AwareLabs development team focus on client-facing features instead of infrastructure issues. Amazon SES and Amazon SNS freed their developers to deliver integrated one-click newsletters with intelligent bounce reduction, which was very well received by clients. Finally, AWS has helped AwareLabs be profitable, which is huge for any startup!
Be sure to check out AwareLabs for your professional website needs!
Doctor On Demand (San Francisco)
Doctor On Demand was built to address the growing problem that many of those in the U.S. face – lack of access to healthcare providers. The average wait time to see a physician is three weeks, and in rural areas, it can be even longer. It takes an average of 25 days to see a psychiatrist or psychologist and nearly half of all patients with mental health issues go without treatment. With Doctor On Demand, patients can see a board-certified physician or psychologist in a matter of minutes directly from their smartphone, tablet, or computer. They can also have video visits with providers at any time of day – no matter where they are. Patients simply download the Doctor On Demand app (iOS and Android) or visit www.doctorondemand.com, provide a summary of the reason for their visit, and are connected to a licensed provider in their state. Services are delivered through hundreds of employers and work with dozens of major health plans.
From the very beginning, AWS has allowed Doctor on Demand to operate securely in the healthcare space. They utilize Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon CloudWatch, and AWS Trusted Advisor. With these services they are able to build compliant security and privacy controls, ‘simple’ fault tolerance, and easily setup a disaster recovery site (utilizing multiple AWS Regions). The company says the best part about working with AWS is that they are able to get everything they need on a startup budget.
Check out the Doctor On Demand blog to keep up with the latest news!
Starling Bank (UK)
Starling Bank is on a mission to shake up financial services. In the way that TV was radically changed by Netflix, music by the likes of Spotify, and social media by Snapchat – this is what Starling aims to do for banking. Founded in 2014 by Anne Boden, Starling uses the latest technology to make the traditional current account obsolete. Having assembled a team of engineers, artists, and economists, the build of the bank is nearing completion. They will be launching their app in early 2017.
Many next generation banks continue to stick to the traditional bank model that was built on technology from the 1960s and 70s. Instead of providing a range of products that are sold and cross-sold to unwilling customers, Starling will empower their users through seamless access to a mobile marketplace of financial services and products that best meet their needs at any given time. Customers can enjoy the security and protection of a licensed and regulated bank while also getting access to insights, data, and services that empower them to make decisions about their money.
Starling Bank uses AWS to provision and scale a secure infrastructure automatically and on demand. They primarily use Amazon CloudFormation and Amazon EC2, but also make use of Amazon S3, Amazon RDS, and Amazon Lambda.
Sign up here to be one of Starling’s first customers!
VigLink (San Francisco)
Oliver Roup, founder and CEO of VigLink, was first introduced to affiliate marketing as a student at Harvard Business School. His interest in the complex ecosystem prompted him to write a crawler to identify existing product links to Amazon. Roup found that less than half of those links were enrolled in the associates program. It was at this moment that he determined there was a real business opportunity at hand, and VigLink was born.
Over the last seven years, the company has grown into not only a content monetization platform, but a platform that provides publishers and merchants with insights into their ecommerce business. At its core, VigLink identifies commercial product mentions within a publisher’s content and automatically transforms them into revenue generating hyperlinks whose destinations can be determined in real-time, advertiser-bid auctions. Since its founding in 2009, VigLink has been backed by top investors including Google Ventures, Emergence Capital Partners, and RRE. Check out a recent interview with Roup and a tour of VigLink’s offices here!
Since the company’s start, VigLink has utilized AWS extensively. The flexibility to be able to respond to demand elastically without capital costs or hardware maintenance has been game-changing. They use numerous services including Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Amazon SQS, Amazon RDS, and Amazon Redshift. While continuing to scale, VigLink has recently been able to cut costs by 15% using tools such as AWS Cost Explorer.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at VigLink in this short video.
I’m pleased to share yet another month of hot startups, courtesy of Tina Barr!
Check out this month’s AWS-powered startups:
- Optimizely – Providing web and mobile A/B testing for the world’s leading brands.
- Touch Surgery – Building technologies for the global surgical community.
- WittyFeed – Creating viral content.
Optimizely (San Francisco)
Optimizely is one of the world’s leading experience optimization platforms, providing website and mobile A/B testing and personalization for leading brands. The platform’s easy-to-use products coupled with the high speed of deployment allows organizations to run experiments and make data-driven decisions. Thousands of customers worldwide are using Optimizely to deliver better experiences to their audiences across a variety of channels. To date, those customers have created and delivered over 275 billion optimized visitor experiences.
In today’s digital world, it is essential for companies to provide personalized experiences for their consumers. In Optimizely’s words, “Being personal is no longer optional.” Their web personalization products allow companies to deliver targeted content to their customers in real time by using browsing behavior, demographic information, contextual clues, and 1st- and 3rd-party data. This in turn drives revenue and keeps customers coming back. Companies don’t have to rely on a team of analysts or engineers to know the impact of their campaigns either – Optimizely has developed an industry-leading Stats Engine to support experimentation and decision-making on their terms.
Optimizely relies heavily on AWS for hosting core parts of its data infrastructure that powers experimentation across different channels, targeting and personalization. They use services like Amazon S3, Amazon EC2, Amazon EMR, Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon ElastiCache to rapidly and reliably scale out infrastructure for supporting business growth. Optimizely also uses AWS security services such as Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) roles, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), and AWS CloudTrail for auditing in order to enhance customer trust in the product.
Check out the Optimizely blog to keep up with the latest news!
Touch Surgery (London)
Founded by 4 surgeons, Touch Surgery is a technology startup with a mission to scale global surgery by using the latest technologies to train surgeons and standardize surgical knowledge. The company is transforming professional healthcare training through the delivery of a unique platform that links mobile apps with a powerful data back-end. The team behind Touch Surgery has spent years working with leading surgical minds from around the world to map and share the language of surgery.
Touch Surgery uses cognitive mapping techniques coupled with cutting edge AI and 3D rendering technology to codify surgical procedures. They have partnered with leaders in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to work toward a vision of advancing surgical care in the operating room (OR). Future surgeons can practice anytime, anywhere by downloading the app (iOS & Android). The app allows users to learn and practice over 50 surgical procedures, evaluate and measure progress, and connect with physicians across the world. Touch Surgery also offers a variety of simulations in specialties such as neurosurgery, orthopedics, plastics, and more.
Touch Surgery’s back-end is fully hosted on AWS. They make use of many Amazon EC2 instances, as well as Amazon S3 and Amazon Elasticsearch Service. AWS has allowed them to scale with the use of Amazon RDS, and they now have over 1 million users and are recording vast amounts of usage data to power their data analytics product. Touch Surgery is also able to deploy different environments with relative ease to help with testing and increase the speed of delivery.
Touch Surgery is always looking for more talent. For more info check out https://www.touchsurgery.com/jobs/.
WittyFeed is a platform connecting social media influencers with creative writers who have a passion for sharing entertaining and attention-grabbing stories. Launched in 2014 by cofounders Vinay Singhal (CEO), Shahshak Vaishnav (CTO), and Parveen Singhal (COO), WittyFeed has become India’s largest viral content company generating over 60 stories per day and attracting 75 million unique visitors every month. They have over 100 writers that are constantly producing content, and an in-house team of editors ensures that the content goes viral and reaches the right audience. The WittyFeed team is passionate about helping publishers grow their pages and is currently creating tools that will tell them not only when to post, but the type of content that will reach a broad audience.
WittyFeed is easy to use and allows readers to personalize their feeds to get the most relevant content. Their focus is on photo-stories, ‘listicles’, and ‘charticles’ in categories such as Technology, History, Sports, and of course, Hilarious. WittyFeed also makes it easy for users to engage and interact with each other with their new live-commenting feature, which allows readers to leave comments without having to sign into a personal account.
Being a content company means that WittyFeed has to deal with a heavy load, user base, and data. With AWS they are able to have a highly scalable infrastructure that can handle sudden surges and adapts to needs in a short period of time. WittyFeed uses a broad range of services including Amazon Kinesis Firehouse, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon RDS. These services allow WittyFeed to handle over 100 million visitors and serve over 500 million page views with almost zero downtime and have become the central pillars of their infrastructure.
Start exploring WittyFeed today!
Tina Barr is back with this month’s hot startups on AWS!
It’s officially fall so warm up that hot cider and check out this month’s great AWS-powered startups:
- Funding Circle – The leading online marketplace for business loans.
- Karhoo – A ride comparison app.
- nearbuy – Connecting customers and local merchants across India.
Funding Circle (UK)
Funding Circle is one of the world’s leading direct lending platforms for business loans, where people and organizations can invest in successful small businesses. The platform was established in 2010 by co-founders Samir Desai, James Meekings, and Andrew Mullinger as a direct response to the noncompetitive lending market that exists in the UK. Funding Circle’s goal was to create the infrastructure – similar to a stock exchange or bond market – where any investor could lend to small businesses. With Funding Circle, individuals, financial institutions, and even governments can lend to creditworthy small businesses using an online direct lending platform. Since its inception, Funding Circle has raised $300M in equity capital from the same investors that backed Facebook, Twitter, and Sky. The platform expanded to the US market in October 2013 and launched across Continental Europe in October 2015.
Funding Circle has given businesses the ability to apply online for loans much faster than they could through traditional routes due in part to the absence of high overhead branch costs and legacy IT issues. Their investors include more than 50,000 individuals, the Government-backed British Business Bank, the European Investment Bank, and many local councils and large financial institutions. To date, more than £1.4 billion has been lent through the platform to nearly 16,000 small businesses in the UK alone. Funding Circle’s growth has led independent experts to predict that it will see strong growth in the UK business lending market within a decade. The platform has also made a huge impact in the UK economy – boosting it by £2.7 billion, creating up to 40,000 new jobs, and helping to build more than 2,000 new homes.
As a regulated business, Funding Circle needs separate infrastructure in multiple geographies. AWS provides similar services across all of Funding Circle’s territories. They use the full AWS stack from the top, with Amazon Route 53 directing traffic across global Amazon EC2 instances, to data analytics with Amazon Redshift.
Check out this short video to learn more about how Funding Circle works!
Karhoo (New York)
Daniel Ishag, founder and CEO of Karhoo, found himself in a situation many of us have probably been in. He was in a hotel in California using an app to call a cab from one of the big on-demand services. The driver cancelled. Daniel tried three or four different companies and again, they all cancelled. The very next day he was booking a flight when he saw all of the ways in which travel companies clearly presented airline choices for travelers. Daniel realized that there was great potential to translate this to ground transportation – specifically with taxis and licensed private hire. Within 48 hours of this realization, he was on his way to Bombay to prototype the product.
Karhoo is the global cab comparison and booking app that provides passengers with more choices each time they book a ride. By connecting directly to the fleet dispatch system of established black cab, minicab, and executive car operators, the app allows passengers to choose the ride they want, at the right price with no surge pricing. The vendor-neutral platform also gives passengers the ability to pre-book their rides days or months in advance. With over 500,000 cars on the platform, Karhoo is changing the landscape of the on-demand transport industry.
In order to build a scalable business, Karhoo uses AWS to implement many independent integration projects, run an operation that is data-driven, and experiment with tools and technologies without committing to heavy costs. They utilize Amazon S3 for storage and Amazon EC2, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon RDS for operation. Karhoo also uses Amazon EMR, Amazon ElastiCache, and Amazon SES and is looking into future products such as a mobile device testing farm.
Check out Karhoo’s blog to keep up with their latest news!
nearbuy is India’s first hyper-local online platform that gives consumers and local merchants a place to discover and interact with each other. They help consumers find some of the best deals in food, beauty, health, hotels, and more in over 30 cities in India. Here’s how to use them:
- Explore options and deals at restaurants, spas, gyms, movies, hotels and more around you.
- Buy easily and securely, using credit/debit cards, net-banking, or wallets.
- Enjoy the service by simply showing your voucher on the nearbuy app (iOS and Android).
After continuously observing the amount of time people were spending on their mobile phones, six passionate individuals decided to build a product that allowed for all goods and services in India to be purchased online. nearbuy has been able to make the time gap between purchase and consumption almost instant, make experiences more relevant by offering them at the user’s current location, and allow services such as appointments and payments to be made from the app itself. The nearbuy team is currently charting a path to define how services can and will be bought online in India.
nearbuy chose AWS in order to reduce its time to market while aggressively scaling their operations. They leverage Amazon ECS heavily and were one of the few companies in the region running their entire production load on ECS. The container-based approach has not only helped nearbuy significantly reduce its infrastructure cost, but has also enabled them to implement CI+CD (Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment), which has reduced time to ship exponentially.
Stay connected to nearbuy by following them at https://medium.com/@nearbuy.
Back with her second guest post, Tina Barr talks about four more hot startups!
This month we are featuring four hot AWS-powered startups:
- Craftsvilla – Offering a platform to purchase ethnic goods.
- SendBird – Helping developers build 1-on-1 messaging and group chat quickly.
- Teletext.io – A solution for content management, without the system.
- Wavefront – A cloud-based analytics platform.
Craftsvilla was born in 2011 out of sheer love and appreciation for the crafts, arts, and culture of India. On a road trip through the Gujarat region of western India, Monica and Manoj Gupta were mesmerized by the beautiful creations crafted by local artisans. However, they were equally dismayed that these artisans were struggling to make ends meet. Monica and Manoj set out to create a platform where these highly skilled workers could connect directly with their consumers and reach a much broader audience. The demand for authentic ethnic products is huge across the globe, but consumers are often unable to find the right place to buy them. Craftsvilla helps to solve this issue.
The culture of India is so rich and diverse, that no one had attempted to capture it on a single platform. Using technological innovations, Craftsvilla combines apparel, accessories, health and beauty products, food items and home décor all in one easily accessible space. For instance, they not only offer a variety of clothing (Salwar suits, sarees, lehengas, and casual wear) but each of those categories are further broken down into subcategories. Consumers can find anything that fits their needs – they can filter products by fabric, style, occasion, and even by the type of work (embroidered, beads, crystal work, handcrafted, etc.). If you are interested in trying new cuisine, Craftsvilla can help. They offer hundreds of interesting products from masalas to traditional sweets to delicious tea blends. They even give you the option to filter through India’s many diverse regions to discover new foods.
Becoming a seller on Craftsvilla is simple. Shop owners just need to create a free account and they’re able to start selling their unique products and services. Craftsvilla’s ultimate vision is to become the ‘one-stop destination’ for all things ethnic. They look to be well on their way!
AWS itself is an engineer on Craftsvilla’s team. Customer experience is highly important to the people behind the company, and an integral aspect of their business is to attain scalability with efficiency. They automate their infrastructure at a large scale, which wouldn’t be possible at the current pace without AWS. Currently, they utilize over 20 AWS services – Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Kinesis, AWS Lambda, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Amazon Redshift, and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud to name a few. Their app QA process will move to AWS Device Farm, completely automated in the cloud, on 250+ services thanks to Lambda. Craftsvilla relies completely on AWS for all of their infrastructure needs, from web serving to analytics.
Check out Craftsvilla’s blog for more information!
After successfully exiting their first startup, SendBird founders John S. Kim, Brandon Jeon, Harry Kim, and Forest Lee saw a great market opportunity for a consumer app developer. Today, over 2,000 global companies such as eBay, Nexon, Beat, Malang Studio, and SK Telecom are using SendBird to implement chat and messaging capabilities on their mobiles apps and websites. A few ways companies are using SendBird:
- 1-on-1 messaging for private messaging and conversational commerce.
- Group chat for friends and interest groups.
- Massive scale chat rooms for live-video streams and game communities.
After graduating from accelerator Y Combinator W16 Batch, the company grew from 1,000,000 monthly chat users to 5,000,000 monthly chat users within months while handling millions of new messages daily across live-video streaming, games, ecommerce, and consumer apps. Customers found value in having a cross-platform, full-featured, and whole-stack approach to a real-time chat API and SDK which can be deployed in a short period of time.
SendBird chose AWS to build a robust and scalable infrastructure to handle a massive concurrent user base scattered across the globe. It uses EC2 with Elastic Load Balancing and Auto Scaling, Route 53, S3, ElastiCache, Amazon Aurora, CloudFront, CloudWatch, and SNS. The company expects to continue partnering with AWS to scale efficiently and reliably.
Marcel Panse and Sander Nagtegaal, co-founders of Teletext.io, had worked together at several startups and experienced the same problem at each one: within the scope of custom software development, content management is a big pain. Even the smallest correction, such as a typo, typically requires a developer, which can become very expensive over time. Unable to find a proper solution that was readily available, Marcel and Sander decided to create their own service to finally solve the issue. Leveraging only the API Gateway, Lambda functions, Amazon DynamoDB, S3, and CloudFront, they built a drop-in content management service (CMS). Their serverless approach for a CMS alternative quickly attracted other companies, and despite intending to use it only for their own needs, the pair decided to professionally market their idea and Teletext.io was born.
Today, Teletext.io is called a solution for content management, without the system. Content distributors are able to edit text and images through a WYSIWYG editor without the help of a programmer and directly from their own website or user interface. There are just three easy steps to get started:
- Include Teletext.io script.
- Add data attributes.
- Login and start typing.
That’s it! There is no system that needs to be installed or maintained by developers – Teletext.io works directly out of the box. In addition to recurring content updates, the data attribution technique can also be used for localization purposes. Making a website multilingual through a CMS can take days or weeks, but Teletext.io can accomplish this task in mere minutes. The time-saving factor is the main benefit for developers and editors alike.
Teletext.io uses AWS in a variety of ways. Since the company is responsible for the website content of others, they must have an extremely fast and reliable system that keeps website visitors from noticing external content being loaded. In addition, this critical infrastructure service should never go down. Both of these requirements call for a robust architecture with as few moving parts as possible. For these reasons, Teletext.io runs a serverless architecture that really makes it stand out. For loading draft content, storing edits and images, and publishing the result, the Amazon API Gateway gets called, triggering AWS Lambda functions. The Lambda functions store their data in Amazon DynamoDB.
Founded in 2013 and based in Palo Alto, Wavefront is a cloud-based analytics platform that stores time series data at millions of points per second. They are able to detect any divergence from “normal” in hybrid and cloud infrastructures before anomalies ever happen. This is a critical service that companies like Lyft, Okta, Yammer, and Box are using to keep running smoothly. From data scientists to product managers, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, Wavefront offers a powerful query engine and a language designed for everyone.
With a pay-as-you-go model, Wavefront gives customers the flexibility to start with the necessary application size and scale up/down as needed. They also include enterprise-class support as part of their pricing at no extra cost. Take a look at their product demos to learn more about how Wavefront is helping their customers.
The Wavefront Application is hosted entirely on AWS, and runs its single-tenant instances and multi-tenant instances in the virtual private cloud (VPC) clusters within AWS. The application has deep, native integrations with CloudWatch and CloudTrail, which benefits many of its larger customers also using AWS. Wavefront uses AWS to create a “software problem”, to operate, automate and monitor clouds using its own application. Most importantly, AWS allows Wavefront to focus on its core business – to build the best enterprise cloud monitoring system in the world.
Today I would like to introduce a very special guest blogger! My daughter Tina is a Recruiting Coordinator for the AWS team and is making her professional blogging debut with today’s post.
It’s officially summer and it’s hot! Check out this month’s hot AWS-powered startups:
- Depop – a social mobile marketplace for artists and friends to buy and sell products.
- Nextdoor – building stronger and safer neighborhoods through technology.
- Branch – provides free deep linking technology for mobile app developers to gain and retain users.
In 2011, Simon Beckerman and his brother, Daniel, set out to create a social, mobile marketplace that would make buying and selling from mobile a fun and interactive experience. The Depop founders recognized that the rise of m-commerce was changing the way that consumers wanted to communicate and interact with each other. Simon, who already ran PIG Magazine and the luxury eyewear brand RetroSuperFuture, wanted to create a space where artists and creatives like himself could share, buy and sell their possessions. After launching organically in Italy, Depop moved to Shoreditch, London in 2012 to establish its headquarter and has since grown considerably with offices in London, New York, and Milan.
With over 4 million users worldwide, Depop is growing and building a community of shop owners with a passion for fashion, music, art, vintage, and lifestyle pieces. The familiar and user-friendly interface allows users to follow, like, comment, and private message with other users and shop owners. Simply download the app (Android or iOS) and you are suddenly connected to millions of unique items ready for purchase. It’s not just clothes either – you can find home décor, vintage furniture, jewelry, and more. Filtering by location allows you to personalize your feed and shop locally for even more convenience. Buyers can scroll through an endless stream of items ready for purchase and have the option to either pick up in-person or have their items shipped directly to them. Selling items is just as easy – upload a photo, write a short description, set a price, and then list your product.
Depop chose AWS in order to move fast without needing a large operations team, following a DevOps approach. They use 12 distinct AWS services including Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront for image hosting, and Auto Scaling to deal with the unpredictable and fairly large changes in traffic throughout the day. Depop’s developers are able to support their own services in production without needing to call on a dedicated operations team.
Check out Depop’s Blog to keep up with the artists using the app!
Nextdoor (San Francisco)
Based in San Francisco, Nextdoor has helped more than 100,000 neighborhoods across the United States bring their communities closer together. In 2010, the founders of this startup were surprised to learn from a Pew research study that the majority of American adults knew only some (29%) or none (28%) of their neighbors by name. Recognizing an opportunity to bring back a sense of community to neighborhoods across the country, the idea for Nextdoor was born. Neighbors are using Nextdoor to ask questions, get to know one another, and exchange local advice and recommendations. For example, neighbors are able to help one another to:
- Find trustworthy babysitters, plumbers, and dentists in the area.
- Organize neighborhood events, such as garage sales and block parties.
- Get assistance to find lost pets and missing packages.
- Sell or give away items, like an old kitchen table or bike.
- Report neighborhood crime and share safety concerns.
Nextdoor is also giving local agencies such as police and fire departments, and offices of emergency management the ability to connect with verified residents in their jurisdiction through a feature called Nextdoor for Public Agencies. This is incredibly beneficial for agencies to help residents with emergency preparedness, community engagement, crime prevention, and community policing. In his seminal work, Bowling Alone, Harvard Professor Robert Putnam learned that when social capital within a community is high, children do better in school, neighborhoods are safer, people prosper, the government is better, and people are happier and healthier overall. With a comprehensive list of helpful community guidelines, Nextdoor is creating stronger and safer neighborhoods with the power of technology. You can download the Nextdoor app for Android or iOS.
AWS is the foundational infrastructure for both the online services in Nextdoor’s technology stack, and all of their offline data processing and analytics systems. Nextdoor uses over 25 different AWS services (Amazon EC2, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Cloudfront, Amazon S3, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon Kinesis to name a few) to quickly prototype, develop, and deploy new features for community members. Supporting millions of users in the US, Nextdoor runs their services across four AWS Regions worldwide, and has also recently expanded to Europe. In their own words, “Amazon makes it easy for us to flexibly grow our technology footprint with predictable costs in an automated fashion.”
Branch (Palo Alto)
The idea for Branch came in May 2014 when a group of Stanford business school graduates began working together to build and launch their own mobile app. They soon realized how challenging it was to grow their app, and saw that many of their friends were running into the same difficulties. The graduates saw the potential to create a deep linking platform to help apps get discovered, retain users, and grow exponentially. Branch reached its first million users within several months after its inception, and a little over a year later had climbed to one billion users and 5,000 apps. Companies such as Pinterest, Instacart, Mint, and Redfin are partnering with Branch to improve their user experience worldwide. Over 11,000 apps use the platform today.
As the number of smartphone users continues to increase, mobile apps are providing better user experiences, higher conversions, and better retention rates than the mobile web. The issue comes when mobile developers want to link users to the content they worked so hard to create – the transition between emails, ads, referrals, and more can often lead to broken experiences.
Mobile deep links allow users to share content that is within an app. Normal web links don’t work unless apps are downloaded on a device, and even then there is no standard way to find and share content as it is specific to every app. Branch allows content within apps to be shared just as they would be on the web. For example, imagine you are shopping for a fresh pair of shoes on the mobile web. You are ready to check out, but are prompted to download the store’s app to complete your purchase. Now that you’ve downloaded the app, you are brought back to the store’s homepage and need to restart your search from the beginning. With a Branch deep link, you instead would be linked directly back to checkout once you’ve installed the app, saving time and creating an overall better user experience.
Branch has grown exponentially over the past two years, and relies heavily on AWS to scale its infrastructure. Anticipating continued growth, Branch builds and maintains most of its infrastructure services with open source tools running on Amazon EC2 instances (Amazon API Gateway, Apache Kafka, Apache Zookeeper, Kubernetes, Redis, and Aerospike), and also use AWS services such as Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53, and Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL. These services allow Branch to maintain a 99.999% success rate on links with a latency of only 60 ms in the 99th percentile. To learn more about how they did this, read their recent blog post, Scaling to Billions of Requests a Day with AWS.