Guest post by Andrea Baptiste, Head of Global Strategic Startups and Connections, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Fifteen years can be a long time—or a short time—depending on who you ask. It has been a decade and a half, last month to be exact, since Amazon Web Services (AWS) came to be a budding new business within Amazon. Now known as the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, it’s far from being a startup based on size and revenue, but its founding principles on delivering value to customers still hold true.
If you’ve been in the startup space for a while, like myself, you know that a lot of the biggest once-startups grew up on AWS. From Netflix to Airbnb to Lyft, some of the most well recognized tech companies today have expanded globally with support from AWS services. This kind of growth and enablement is happening every day.
Success on a global scale
In Canada, specifically, we are excited about the high calibre of companies that are going global. Take Convergence.tech. Back in 2019, it developed a digital credentials and decentralized identity platform, called Trybe.ID. It facilitates the secure and efficient creation, issuance, and presentation of verifiable credentials for sectors like education, government, and healthcare. To support the growing demand for digital identities since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trybe.ID migrated to AWS.
The company began leveraging cloud regions in Canada, the U.S., Singapore, and Japan to develop its global customer base and ensure compliance with data residency requirements. This move has enabled Trybe.ID to go from servicing 50 to 500 organizations around the world, as well as to launch a new suite of COVID-19 digital credentials, such as TravelPass and HealthPass. Trybe.ID’s digital credential platform now issues HealthCerts—a travel requirement established by the Singapore Ministry of Health. It is expected to be used by 500,000, potentially one million travelers, by the end of 2021. Trybe.ID is also working with a major government health agency to implement one of the largest digital health wallet applications in North America.
There is also DarwinAI out of Waterloo, Ontario. Early on in the pandemic, they used their AI technology to help the global community of clinicians use CT scans and X-rays to support the rapid diagnosis of COVID-19. Called COVID-Net, the neural network is a complementary tool to assist clinicians in rapidly screening for the virus. It was implemented at clinics and hospitals around the world when PCR tests were scarce. DarwinAI’s niche is in the world of Explainable AI, and they work across automotive, aerospace & defense, financial services and healthcare. They leverage AWS for some of their customers, but it is the connections piece—being introduced and connected to the right people—that the AWS Startups team brings to the table that is valuable for startups like DarwinAI. At AWS, we have millions of active customers globally. For DarwinAI, we facilitated an introduction to an AWS enterprise customer and global pharmaceutical company. DarwinAI is now working with that industry partner to implement DarwinAI’s Fibrosis-Net—a deep convolutional neural network design that predicts the progression of pulmonary fibrosis from chest CT images, within a commercial context.
More than 2,000 connections were made through the official AWS Connections program last year. It’s where we match startups solutions to enterprise use cases. We organize meetings, roundtables, and networking events, where we invite C-level executives from our enterprise customers to hear from groups of our startup clients. This matching engine helps startups explore how they can provide new solutions to solve the problems that large organizations face.
Built for scale, in the cloud
It’s not just startups though that benefit from the scale of AWS. Small businesses have the same building blocks at their disposable in their AWS console as the Fortune 500 businesses do. The same tools and features are ubiquitous for all.
When Zamir Khan from London, Ontario started VidHug in 2018, the software engineer built it natively on AWS using serverless technology. It was a passion project that he built to help family and friends easily create group videos for special occasions, like birthdays. But when the pandemic hit, demand for digital collaboration tools and ways to celebrate safely and remotely soared, and between March-May 2020 usage of the platform went from 300 users a day to 130,000 people a day! Khan, as the sole employee, didn’t miss a beat though. The architecture scaled in the cloud as intended, and Khan could focus his attention on helping customers surprise and delight their loved ones. Since then, VidHug, which now has eight employees, has helped share over five million video hugs from 194 different countries.
Dealing with explosive growth can be a challenge, but that’s the goal of many startups and small businesses—scale quickly and maintain customer trust. Being on the cloud can eliminate some of that undifferentiated heavy lifting that comes with owning and maintaining your own data centers. Additionally, the ability to test fast and fail is another reason companies like to use the cloud. They can stand up an idea, and if it doesn’t work, just shut off those services. The pay-as-you-go set up is appealing for experimentation.
AWS also offers a number of free tier services, and the AWS Activate program provides startups with a host of benefits, including AWS credits, AWS support plan credits, and training to help grow their business. Hundreds of thousands of startups have taken advantage of these benefits. In fact, last year more than $1 billion in credits was given to startups globally. Take Quebec City’s Poka. The AWS Activate credits allowed them to launch their solution for the manufacturing sector. Six years later, their platform is available in 16 languages and has become a catalyst for digital transformation among industrial leaders including 12 of the largest manufacturers, such as Bosch, Danone, and Mars.
Engage with the AWS Startup Team
At Collision From Home 2021, a virtual conference event that will stream talks from tech CEOs, international policymakers, and global cultural figures and engage with some of the world’s most influential companies and fastest-growing startups, the AWS Startups team is hosting a number of MasterClasses. You can ask questions about building on AWS and more. We also have a roundtable taking place with a number of Canadian founders on Tuesday, April 20 at 3pm ET. Whether you need help today, or have an idea for a business started on a napkin (AWS’s origin story), we are excited to help you build.