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Busby Grows 860% in 1 Year, from MVP to Thriving User Base, with App Built Using AWS Amplify

2021

After a serious bicycle accident that nearly cost Barry Green his life, he and his friends had an idea for automating the detection of emergency incidents. Their outdoor activities safety app Busby would use the sensors in a user’s mobile phone to detect a fall or crash and notify someone who could help. Green and his friends needed a fast way to develop a high-quality application while maintaining their full-time day jobs. They first turned to software houses, who quoted them at least $150,000 just to build a minimum viable product (MVP), a necessity to attract seed money. They needed a simple, cost-effective tool to build the MVP themselves.

After months of searching for application development solutions, the three cofounders of the British-based startup chose to build their MVP using Amazon Web Services (AWS). “I came across this cool new solution that’s very simple to adopt for a startup with no dedicated developers,” says Kirk Ryan, Busby’s chief technology officer and cofounder. That solution was AWS Amplify, a set of tools and services to help front-end web and mobile developers build scalable full-stack applications. Using it, the Busby founders cost-effectively built a serverless MVP in just 3 months and then rapidly grew the app’s users. Busby is now involved in strategic partnerships with other businesses that will significantly grow its user base.

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We increase productivity on AWS Amplify. Developers can implement and manage features with ease. GraphQL APIs are instantly built for us; it’s one of my favorite parts of using the solution.”

Kirk Ryan
Chief Technology Officer and Cofounder, Busby

MVP Speed to Market

To build the Busby MVP, the founders decided to take a serverless-first approach that would enable them to build an MVP that was well prepared for future growth. “It was critical that the solution was simple to understand and troubleshoot without sacrificing the ability to scale,” says Ryan. Using AWS Amplify, a single person could manage the entire stack, from front-end components to a serverless cloud backend. The Busby founders chose React Native as their front-end framework, which provides a unified architecture without the need for separate iOS and Android iterations. AWS Amplify also offered full-featured support of React Native, an open-source mobile application framework. Ryan explains, “A startup doesn’t want separate iOS and Android teams, because there would be two distinct skill sets and two lines of code to maintain—basically twice the overhead.”

Ryan realized Busby could scale up quickly by relying on the range of offerings—in-depth tutorials and documentation—that made AWS Amplify simple to learn. If information did not appear directly on the AWS site, a thriving and responsive AWS Amplify community steered Ryan toward resources and information.

Growing by 860% in Less Than 1 Year on AWS

The Busby MVP was built in 3 months. By using AWS Amplify, the Busby team saved months of development time and up to $150,000 by not using a software house. As the app became more popular with consumers such as fitness enthusiasts and horseback riders, an unexpected market opened for Busby: mobility-related businesses showing interest in incorporating the Busby service into their own applications. The startup now has business-to-business partnerships with two providers of electric scooters. Deals with vehicle manufacturers and delivery services are on the horizon, laying the groundwork for the acquisition of hundreds of thousands of additional Busby users in a short period. From March to December 2020, Busby users grew by 860 percent. “AWS hasn’t flinched,” Ryan says. “It’s just taken it in stride.” Busby can handle the rapid increase of new users using AWS Lambda, a serverless compute service that lets the startup run code without provisioning or managing servers.

The highly intuitive visual user interface of AWS Amplify enables Busby to quickly onboard developers globally. The team has grown to 13 engineers, and Busby plans to add 7 more by the end of 2021. Using AWS Amplify Admin UI, developers have a highly intuitive and visual demonstration of front-end and backend components. As Busby grows, it is onboarding new engineers to its cross-border development team. Using AWS Amplify Admin UI, Busby can communicate context simply while keeping things running smoothly with dedicated backend environments for development, staging, and production. “AWS Amplify Admin UI has been significant for us because it’s so visually oriented,” says Ryan. “We’re able to onboard developers who quickly gain an understanding of how things are connected. That way, new developers don’t have to rely on code and reverse engineer things in their mind. It’s very simple for them to just be productive.”

Busby also implemented GraphQL APIs built using AWS AppSync, a fully managed GraphQL service that improves performance and enables companies to build applications faster. Ryan was pleased with the high level of GraphQL observability achieved on AWS. “We increase productivity on AWS Amplify,” says Ryan. “Developers can implement and manage features with ease. GraphQL APIs are instantly built for us; it’s one of my favorite parts of using the solution.”

Ryan says he can easily visualize and understand the state of Busby’s whole system, locate potential areas of failure, and interact with components, log stores, and related services. “Technology wise, we’re in dreamland.”

Continuing to Grow on AWS Amplify

Using AWS Amplify enabled the small Busby team to create an MVP quickly and cost-effectively in just 3 months and then adjust to exponential growth. Looking forward, Busby plans to further grow its user base by connecting directly with consumers and through more business-to-business partnerships. As a serverless application, Busby can take on hundreds of thousands of new users and maintain reliability and performance without rearchitecting its technology stack. “There aren’t many solutions for startups that offer everything you need. AWS Amplify helped us build our MVP and has grown with us,” says Ryan.


About Busby

Busby is an outdoor activities safety app covering cycling, scootering, running, walking, and more. The app detects user incidents and sends out automatic alerts in cases of emergency.

Benefits of AWS

  • Developed a minimum viable product in 3 months
  • Saved over $150,000 using AWS instead of a software house
  • Onboarded new developers quickly and simply
  • Scaled with ease to meet user base growth of 860% in less than 1 year

AWS Services Used

AWS Amplify

AWS Amplify is a set of tools and services that can be used together or on their own, to help front-end web and mobile developers build scalable full stack applications, powered by AWS. 

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AWS AppSync

AWS AppSync is a fully managed service that makes it easy to develop GraphQL APIs by handling the heavy lifting of securely connecting to data sources like AWS DynamoDB, Lambda, and more. 

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AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is a serverless compute service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers, creating workload-aware cluster scaling logic, maintaining event integrations, or managing runtimes.

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