Ayolab is a B2B SaaS B2B startup created in 2017 by Christophe Le Houédec (CEO) and François Misslin (CTO). They developed a data analysis technology to help companies identify traders who sell their products on e-commerce sites and marketplaces. The startup helps them limit unauthorized sales and defend the value of their brand. They work in particular with actors in the cosmetics sectors (L’Oréal, Coty).
François Misslin, CTO at Ayolab, says:
“we wanted to focus on developing features that directly help our customers rather than focus on platform and server management. AWS is the leader in this area and has the best tools. This is why we focused on AWS from the very beginning of Ayolab”.
- Focus on our core business to drive and add value
- Control costs
- Have a high performing information system
Ayolab has been using AWS since its very beginning to collect, process and analyze data. “We use public data which our algorithm processes to recognize the type of article, the trader and so on”, specifies Christophe Le Houédec (CEO). “We then combine it with our clients’ data (product catalogs, prices, etc.)”.
This complex data, which covers several categories (cosmetics, clothing, animal feed, etc.), comes from many sources and is in different formats: sent by clients in .csv or retrieved from different countries, languages and sites. “With AWS, everything we need to do with the data is very simple. Starting a database is easy with Amazon RDS, which manages everything we don’t really want to do ourselves, such as backups, scalability, establishment of backup databases to ensure stability, and so on”, adds François.
To host its services, Ayolab has opted for a Kubernetes cluster with Amazon EKS. “This requires very few human resources and very little maintenance on our part. Our developers are working much more on features and services rather than on basic server management, for example”, specifies the CTO.
This means that Ayolab saves a considerable amount of time. “Without AWS, we would have had to dedicate a developer to it full time, out of a team of 6 at the moment. 10 to 20 % of our time would be dedicated to it. This isn’t the type of budget a little startup can afford”, François Misslin feels, not including that it makes Ayolab more attractive too: “You don’t get the same talent retention whether you ask a developer to work on setting up a database backup or on the core of our business with an application or an algorithm”.
Ayolab has made technical choices which, far from being simple, are geared towards the long term, dictated by the need to create robust systems to manage their data. “We use several programming languages, including Scala, several types of database, services which don’t have the same resource requirements (CPU, memory, availability, etc.”), details the CTO.
“But with 6 developers we are managing to produce an information system which can hold its own in comparison with companies that have 30 people where I worked in the past, clearly thanks to platforms like AWS. We have an architecture which is based on micro-services and is hosted on AWS with Kubernetes. All our apps are dedicated to a single action, for example categorizing a product. The difficulty is that we have to make our fifteen or so apps communicate with each other: the AWS SQS queues system or the gRPC framework are a massive help here. We rely heavily on EC2 spot instances on Kubernetes. To host applications, guarantee backup in the event of a failure, autoscaling if we need to increase the number of machines or calculation speed, etc.”. This choice has enabled the company to save around 70% of its overall calculation costs. “This is one of the reasons why we have migrated this part of our infrastructure from Google Cloud (GKE) to AWS (EKS). We had been using Google’s offer as AWS’s wasn’t at the same level at that time. As soon as they had caught up, we came back. Their development speed and how they listen to their client’s needs are something we like”.
Ayolab is part of the AWS Activate program, which offers startups credits to use AWS services, along with dedicated support. “We took advantage of technical support and workshops. Putting Kubernetes in place on spot instances came about directly from one of these workshops. Three days after taking the workshop, I put what we had seen into production”, shares François. “We also had access to dedicated, more technical, resources, with Solutions Architects”.
He feels that “everything is possible, even without AWS. Its a question of time and resources, but with them you go forward much quicker. You can do a lot with a small team, and in just a few months or years we have done as much as our competitors who have 5-10 years behind them. Without AWS, and without the Activate credits, this wouldn’t have been possible”.
Christophe Le Houédec adds: we’ve been delighted with the business follow-up we’ve received. Our first Account Manager really helped us a lot at the beginning. This is someone who was really important to us. We have a very good relationship with AWS, and the work they put in is a real game changer for a startup like ours”.
“I am hugely grateful to the AWS team. We were just starting out and they had every confidence in us. We got a lot of support and assistance. That’s the paradox”, laughs the CTO. “The average person sees the could as something virtual, but it’s also very human. It’s about closeness, having a relationship and understanding technical requirements”.
- 70 % savings on our servers
- 10 to 20 % time saved in platform and server management
- A high performance information system, created by 6 developers