Dec 6, 2021, Infrastructure

Cloud for startups – become a billionaire with AWS

Piotr Hadam Cloud and Security trainee

As a reminder – you have a great idea, but no money. You already know that publishing a finished product carries a lot of risk. You want to introduce your idea as MVP – Minimum Viable Product. This is where AWS comes in with its free services.

How can the cloud help you start?

Cloud solutions help in starting project development due to the fact that you don’t spend money on infrastructure – you simply use the products provided by AWS. Thanks to the scalability of cloud solutions, you use as many resources as you need and pay only for what you use.

The very first step you can take is using free offers. However, using them in a production environment is not recommended – they have limits and no SLA guaranteed, being thus the best option to build a product whose main task is to get feedback from users and confirm that developing it makes sense. With MVP, you just present core functionalities of your project.

Starting with free services and gradually switching to their better, less limited versions is a good practice if your budget is tight.

Different types of free offers on AWS

You can ask why AWS would give you anything for free. The answer is quite simple – they can earn more by giving you a chance to get to know their products. This way, you can stay with them for a longer time which is more profitable than charging money from all new users.

You can create your AWS account for free and have access to over 100 free products. And there are no requirements to create an account, everyone can do it.

Amazon Web Services comes with three different types of free offers:

  • Free trials – you can use them for free for a certain period of time
  • 12 months free – services you can use for free for 12 months from your sign-up date
  • Always free – services available for free to all AWS customers

But you have to remember that all of these services have their limitations. You can, for instance, use a product only for a specified number of requests or storage space.

Overview of AWS’ free products

Which products available on AWS for free are the ones you should focus on the most?

  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) – object storage service used to retrieve any amount of data from anywhere.
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) – virtual servers that allow users to deploy, manage, and maintain OS and server software.
  • Amazon Lightsail – fully managed platform to build, deploy and scale web apps with pre-configured cloud resources.
  • AWS Lambda – serverless, event-driven compute service that lets you run code for virtually any type of application or backend service. 
  • AWS Step Functions – low-code visual workflow service used to orchestrate AWS services, automate business processes, and build serverless applications.
  • Amazon RDS – managed relational database services.
  • Amazon DynamoDB – fast, flexible NoSQL database service for single-digit millisecond performance at any scale.
  • Amazon API Gateway – create, maintain, and secure APIs at any scale.
  • AWS CodeBuild – build and test code with continuous scaling.
  • Amazon SageMaker – machine learning for every data scientist and developer.

Explore startup offerings with AWS Startup Resources

These free offers are not the only ones that can give you a boost to the first stage of your startup development. You can take advantage of several AWS offerings made especially for startups. The product you can start with is AWS Startup Resources – the site that shows you useful resources for startups like tips, case studies, events, programs, etc. It’s like a place grouping all the things you would like to use while developing your startup.

Start with AWS Activate and get up to $100,000

You can apply for AWS Activate which offers free tools, resources, and more to quickly get started on AWS. It provides startups that are less than 10 years old with a host of benefits, like AWS credits, AWS support plan credits, and architecture guidance to help your business grow. 

This programs comes with two tiers:

  • Activate Founders – designed for self-funded and bootstrapped startups that can take advantage of $1,000 in AWS credits, $350 in Developer support credits, pre-built infrastructure templates, exclusive offers, and much more.
  • Activate Portfolio – created for startups associated with a venture capital firm, accelerator, incubator, or other startup-enabling organization that is also an AWS Activate Provider. This tier gives you access to up to $100,000 in AWS credits, up to $10,000 in AWS Business support credits, pre-built infrastructure templates, training, curated content, exclusive offers and much more.

Before applying for AWS Activate you should analyze criteria associated with both tiers.

Take advantage of AWS Startup Programs

AWS offers programs and events to support startups on the way to success. You can split them into three main categories:

  • Connect with Growth Opportunities – programs full of new opportunities, from developing go-to-market strategies to finding new customer bases to expand your business into.
    • AWS Partner Network (APN) Startup Program – get tips on technical verification, go-to-market support, and sales support to empower your start-up with the speed it needs.
    • AWS Marketplace for Startups – get access to millions of AWS customers looking for innovative startup products like yours. 
    • AWS Public Sector for Startups – collaborate to develop next-generation technology that empowers public sector actors and increases public-private engagement.
  • Explore Acceleration Programs – a practical program that will help take your startup to the next stage of development.
    • AWS EdStart – build a new generation of cloud-based online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions with this startup accelerator.
    • AWS Builder Space at Floor28 – grow your technology with AWS experts and an extended network of investors and entrepreneurs, and sign up for the ten-week program if eligible. 
  • Discover Global  Startup Events – webinars, workshops, virtual events, and more.
    • Upcoming Events
    • On-Demand Events
    • AWS Pillar Events – events like AWS Startup Days, AWS Summits, and annual AWS conference – re:Invent.

Slack’s success

Slack is a proprietary business communication platform which offers many IRC-style features, including persistent chat rooms (channels) organized by topic, private groups, and direct messaging. It was bought by Salesforce in 2021 for $27.7 billion. 

And the road to this transaction began in February 2014 when a small group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs launched their app. Slack’s founders learned from previous unsuccessful ventures. They knew they needed an appropriate IT infrastructure to run their business. Lean staff, low costs and an IT environment capable of supporting speed, agility, and innovation have been essential to success in the competitive business software market. Choosing a cloud was the best decision they could make. “With traditional IT, it would take weeks or months to contend with hardware lead times to add more capacity. Using AWS, we can look at user metrics weekly or daily and react with new capacity in 30 seconds.” said Director of Operations.

I’m a billionaire now!

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Once your idea in the form of MVP is confirmed to make sense by the customers, you need to develop and polish your product. And it means you have to make some financial expenses – yet using limited and perhaps unreliable solutions is not a recipe for success. If you already know that there is a high probability that you will make money from it, the risk is much lower than when you publish only the finished product. Thanks to AWS you can take your first step of becoming a billionaire.