AWS Startups Blog

Startups Helping Startups: Will You Help Another Entrepreneur?

As Reid Hoffman says, starting a company is like “jumping off a cliff and building an airplane on the way down.”  It’s hard. Very, very hard! And being an entrepreneur can be one of the loneliest places on Earth, especially when you’re staring down a challenge that you’ve never seen before and don’t know who to turn to.

That’s why AWS and Masters of Scale are partnering to create this unique opportunity for startups to help startups.  Think of AWS as the convener and yourself as having a piece of the puzzle that just might help another entrepreneur—someone very much like you—solve a BIG problem on the road to being, possibly, the next billion-dollar company.

Would you help if you could? Of course you would! We’re just making it easy. Below, please find some of the advice Masters of Scale listeners have been writing in to our entrepreneurs:

Entrepreneur #1: Eddy Lu

Eddy, the CEO and Co-Founder of GOAT (That’s “Greatest of All Time”), has a built a legendary marketplace for re-selling premium sneakers. That’s a very big business—and also a global one. International sellers kept joining the GOAT platform, wanting to sell, but Eddy knows that a global marketplace isn’t something you just step into like a self-lacing shoe. He needed to buy some time to get his platform ready and insure a seamless, delightful buying experience, despite the differences in laws, language and logistics across borders. So he made a waitlist for sellers outside the US. And that waitlist? It’s 35,000 members long. Eddy’s tried country-by-country solutions, but he’s not satisfied. Eddy’s challenge: To scale his infrastructure globally and meet that demand, with a holistic (not piecemeal) solution. Your challenge: To help him get it right, wherever a seller might be on the planet.

“Create a virtual inventory. The virtual inventory allows sellers to list their shoes from any region. Use the current AI method to authenticate the shoes. The virtual location allows everyone to sell everywhere no matter where is the warehouse is.”

– Julius Ho

“It seems to me that Eddy’s challenge is something many other retailers and even manufacturers face: how to handle the myriad of challenges in shipping across borders. It may be a platform option to provide this capability as a service.”

– Jose Solera

Entrepreneur #2: Chris Costello

Chris Costello founded Blooom to help ordinary Americans manage their single biggest retirement investment—their 401(k) retirement accounts. And if that just made your eyes glaze over, congratulations: You now understand Chris’ challenge. Blooom offers online financial advice for 401(k)s aimed at people who can’t afford their own financial advisor. (And that’s most of us.) His company has passionate early adopters, but the mainstream Americans who could most benefit from their work are the ones least likely to find them. Chris’ challenge: To reach beyond his base to find the customers who’d benefit from using Blooom but don’t know about it yet. Your challenge: To advise Chris on how to move beyond early adopters, and help more people realize their retirement dreams.

“One idea: recruiting events on campus and ambassadors. [The] retirement plan starts early, and these college kids are a great pool for outreach given their savvy-ness in tech! Also a win-win to get talent along with brand awareness.”

– Candice Li

“Two things: 1. Solve your Catch 22 (people won’t pay until they see value; won’t see value until they pay). Align with orgs that pay (e.g. library, coworking). 2. Attach to concrete events so people think of 401k when the event occurs (e.g. “first job”).”

– Chris Daming

“I think investment in 401ks should be taught in high school . School board funds should give each student (11th/12th grade ) a nominal amount of funds. Maybe $.100-200. Profits go to the school and their favorite activity to sustain both. Develop curriculum.”

– Melvin Cohen


Check out Masters of Scale for future episodes—or to write in with your own advice—in our Startups Helping Startups series. 

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung currently works in startup content at AWS and was previously the head of content at Index Ventures. Prior to joining the corporate world, Michelle was a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, the founding Business Editor at the Huffington Post, a correspondent for The Boston Globe, a columnist for Publisher’s Weekly and a writer at Entertainment Weekly.