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Getting started with Amazon Web Services: programs for startups

Friday, November 13, 2020

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the world's most prevalent cloud platforms with over 175 full-featured data center services. Millions of customers, including the fastest growing startups, use AWS to lower costs, increase agility, and accelerate innovation.

Startup Jedi

We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.

The Founders Club team held an online event with an AWS representative in September and we had the following goals for the webinar:

  • Tell startups about the algorithm for obtaining and using AWS Activate Credits;

  • Understand how a startup can properly build an MVP on AWS including approaches, intricacies, techniques and technologies;

  • Discuss Amazon Web Services cloud solutions to build architecture.

Our guest expert is Yegor Shadrin. For the past 10 years, Egor has worked closely with startups in Los Angeles, USA. He went from a co-founder of a startup to mentoring in accelerators and incubators on the technical side of startups, including building MVP, choosing technologies, finding specialists and growing a team. Egor is the member of the LA CTO Forum since 2016, and he participates in the development of startup support programs in Southern California.

Since the content is very valuable for founders, we decided to split it into separate articles. Today, let’s start with an overview of programs and opportunities for startups.


What AWS offers to startups and why they are willing to work with the platform

We understand startups and the steps of their development, because Amazon and its services have recently been startups themselves. In many ways, our internal processes still resemble startups: we grow and develop, and many of our initiatives also look unrealistic, like the ideas of startups, but we manage to bring them to life.

Inside Amazon, we have developed several programs that can make startups’ life easier and help bring a product to market. Thanks to these programs, as well as AWS services, many startups have gone public.

Huge changes took place during the platform boom between 1999 and 2005, when a startup needed $ 5 million to build an MVP (1999), and in 2005 it was 10 times less. In 2006, Amazon released its cloud services, and this amount began to decline even more rapidly. This is why many venture capital funds, incubators, and accelerators see us as their preferred partner: with Amazon, the MVP’s speed and cost are greatly reduced.

“AWS changed the way VCs invest in startups”

Harvard business school

A lot of startups around the world are built on AWS — and you have the opportunity to walk this exact path to success.

Amazon has a huge community: we hold a large number of meetups and conferences, primarily for technical specialists, where they can help and answer your questions, as well as support with ready-made solutions that already work on AWS.

If we talk about the venture capital ecosystem of startups in Russia and the CIS, we partner with the most top venture capital funds, accelerators and incubators around the world — and if you come to us, we help you find connections and your place in this ecosystem.


Getting started with Amazon Web Services: programs for startups

Non-financial investments

We do not invest directly with money, nor do we invest by buying out a share of startups or participating in their operations.

We invest our knowledge, share our experience, help startups understand the complexities of cloud platforms and technologies, and provide resources and support. We also open internal and external doors for a startup, helping to connect and meet the right people. Startups will be able to overcome difficulties and enter the global market faster thanks to the infrastructure we have.

At Amazon, startups receive targeted support to enter different regions of the world, not only in terms of infrastructure, but also in compliance with various regulations, including legal ones. And we consider each cooperation as long-term.


Getting started with Amazon Web Services: programs for startups

Focus of work

Talking about what we focus on, we approach startups from two aspects:

  1. Technical, where we help with architectural design, reviews, optimizations, best practices in all of these areas, bringing in experts in a specific area of ​​startup’s interests, connecting to our beta features and previews, and information security.

  2. Non-technical, or entering the market, which includes help with marketing, financing PoS (Proof of Concept is used to test theoretical calculations and assumptions in practice. — Startup Jedi), referral sales, distribution, as well as acquaintances in the field of capital, that can play a key role in a startup in the future.


Getting started with Amazon Web Services: programs for startups

Startup Assistance Programs from AWS

AWS has several startup assistance programs:

Activate program provides startups with free promo credits on the platform (for an amount, for example, from $ 1,000, $ 5,000, up to $ 100,000, and more if the application is reasonable); business support plan that allows you to quickly resolve any issues and have 24/7 support; all kinds of online resources; office hours and Startup Spotlight — the internal block of startups, where you can get a place and make your use case together with us.

We have special conditions for organizations supporting startups — Rocket DAO is one of them. You can contact them and get the advice you need. We are very pleased and proud to work with such companies.

Well-Architected Frameworks & AWS Office Hours program for organizing specially dedicated sessions with various specialists, solving issues of startup’s interest. You can contact us directly by e-mail or through Rocket DAO, we will consider your application and try to arrange a meeting or phone call with you as soon as possible.

Startup Migrate program is intended for those who already have an MVP hosted on their home computer or other data center. We can help you move your product to AWS, where a startup can take advantage of all the benefits and our flexible infrastructure.

Alexa Fun program is for startups working in the field of voice processing, speech recognition and everything related to devices like Alexa, where you can use voice programs to control various devices and create commands. This is an additional opportunity for startups to expand integration with services and promote the startup and technologies you have developed.

AWS Partner Network are proven partners who help startups build their product faster, expand and enter new markets. Designed primarily for fast-growing startups that do not have time to gain momentum or a team, as well as, if necessary, for special technical assistance.

AWS Marketplace is all about buying ready-made solutions, in case you do not want to waste time building your own. There are machine learning models, ready-made packaged software products and services.

Amazon Launchpad program is intended for physical products sold on Due to the limited access to Amazon in Russia and the CIS, it is more suitable for companies working with the European and American markets.


Getting started with Amazon Web Services: programs for startups

Questions from the audience

— Tell us about any case of extended cooperation with AWS or the success story of startups from the CIS, except for the AWS Activate program.

We have several startups created in Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, that we still work with very closely.

One of them is the Belarusian startup Flo Health, a women’s health tracking app. The project has many users around the world, the product itself has many interesting features for data processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, it works as a virtual assistant. We have been working at Amazon for a long time with this project, the AWS website even has a recorded official use case, where the Flo Health team talks about what stages they went through when building their product and entering global markets.

Another interesting company is Grammarly, founded in Ukraine and successfully operating all over the world. (Grammarly is an AI-powered online service to help you write in English, providing guidance on message accuracy, clarity, fun, and tone — Startup Jedi.)

The founder of Allset recently spoke at our Startup Day (his presentation is available in a special section for startups on our official website, where we post webinars). Allset is a startup that has built a delivery product in North America with the entire development team being in Ukraine. This is a very interesting use case, the presentation talks about fundraising and raising investments, which is a very “startup” topic. (Through the Allset application, you can book a table in a restaurant and pay the bill, as well as get recommendations on dishes in a particular restaurant. Against the background of the coronavirus crisis, the company has expanded the capabilities of the product. Now Allset allows restaurants to offer take-away meals with contactless delivery. The Allset commission on an order with this option is 12%. Meanwhile, users get a discount of $ 4 per day. — Startup Jedi).

- Are there separate programs from AWS to combat COVID-19?

We have several companies developing special solutions in the field of medicine that were applicable in the fight against СOVID-19: monitoring, other additional solutions in the field of health care. We do not have a separate program to combat COVID-19, but we communicate individually with all the startups from the CIS that approached us with similar developments during the pandemic and try to help everyone.

- What is the lifetime of loans, what is the reason for it, and at what stage of development should a startup apply for your loans?

The loan is designed to enable a startup to focus on its product, on building its MVP, entering the market faster than on cost optimization.

In order not to spend a lot of time making various decisions when building an MVP, there are credits that make it possible to use simpler manage services and build your MVP, get your own customers and, after the loan ends, optimize the infrastructure that can change dozens of times during the construction of the MVP.

The loans are valid for one or two years, depending on the program. If you are a start-up and your consumption ranges from $ 500 to $ 1,000 per month, then applying for a loan of $ 100,000 right away will not be very effective — you will not be able to use all the credit funds in a year. Therefore, I recommend starting with a simple partnership with companies like Rocket DAO. You can start your “journey” there with $ 1,000 loans: see, try, start building, decide how many loans per month you spend to support your infrastructure, where you need to expand, and only then apply for additional loans several times — and, thus, extend your life on the platform, that is, extend the initial period when you can use resources through loans.


Check out the full video here to see what other questions Egor has answered: 


We’ll take a closer look at the intricacies of and approaches to building an MVP using the power of AWS in the next article!

13 Nov 2020


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