How even nontechnical founders can launch their startup fast, with AWS (VB)

Presented by Amazon Web Services

A successful startup needs to start with a minimum viable product (MVP). It can be a complex job, but AWS can help you lower costs, become more agile, and innovate faster. Join a panel of pros in this VB Live event for tips, best practices, and more for using AWS Activate to get to market fast.

Register here for free.

There are a few critical things a startup needs to know right off the bat, says Trent Dethloff, senior PMT, AWS Activate, Amazon Web Services. As a startup founder himself, with over 20 years experience and three startups behind him, Dethloff knows a thing or two about getting to an MVP.

The first and most essential, he says, is to never forget that the most important resource a startup has is time.

Getting to market, and getting the customer attention and feedback you need to iterate and grow, is absolutely critical to a startup’s success, especially right at the start. The faster you can make that happen, the better off you’re always going to be, he adds. You need to clear your plate to make that happen.

“Every moment should be spent on working on delivering value for customers,” Dethloff says. “Anything you’re doing that’s not focused on delivering value to customers is not the best use of your time.”

It’s also essential that as you build your minimum viable product (MVP), you’re laying down a foundation that can scale, which can be a complex undertaking. You don’t want to overbuild or over-invest in the things that you don’t need, especially early on. But at the same time, you need to know how much everything costs, you need to have a basic form to monitor and make sure your services are staying up, and you need to figure out the easiest way to deploy code.

“It’s a tricky balance, but as you scale, you’ll have multiple chances to rebuild things later,” he says. In part, that’s because cloud services offer the flexibility and support you’ll need as you bring your product to market.

The surprising advantages of cloud

“A lot of the service offerings now are easy to access — they allow teams to get out of the infrastructure piece and get out of the setup business,” Dethloff says. “And it allows for innovation and testing to get to product market fit in ways that we’ve never had before and I think it’s really exciting.”

But one of the top benefits of cloud services is that they offer documented best practices that are already out in the field, he explains. That’s incredibly valuable to a startup that is trying to deliver a unique customer value, but can get mired in the details of infrastructure and setting up services. Learning how other companies or startups tackled similar challenges or processes, and using their documented templates and best practices, rapid-launches your efforts. Having those pieces already in place lets you get right down to the customer value question as quickly as possible.

“I always like using technology that a lot of people are actually using,” he says. “It just means that I’m going to have pathways that make my job so much easier.”

For cloud services with a big user community, there’s a template or framework available for almost everything, from authentication patterns that are easy to put into place to documented security and storage models. And you can tap into other users who understand the particular challenges of launching and running a startup.

“The bigger community that you can find, the more users, and the more use cases with good documentation, the better,” Dethloff points out. “That’s a very rich source to start this effort with.”

Choosing a cloud services partner

Selecting a cloud service is an early decision that sets the tone and builds the foundation for your company. There are a few things to keep top of mind when choosing a partner.

Functionality. The first place to start is determining whether the service has the features and functionality you’re after, and whether it will support the speed of your development. But startups need to look to the future, as well — does the provider have the tools that you’re going to need now, but also the functions you’ll need as you grow?

Community. Dethloff also recommends looking for a service with that vibrant community of customers and partners and best practices. Again, that’s where you can find templates, and reach out to other users.

Security and operational excellence. The vendor you choose should have operational and security excellence built in, and proven track records. They should have good uptime records, and documented responses to security incidents. That usually means a company that’s established, and has a good reputation in the field, with both customers and analysts.

Innovation. New, innovative tech areas such as machine learning, AI, IoT, and serverless are critical new technologies. Startups should embrace solutions that can be quickly folded in and help them easily deliver new customer solutions.

How AWS changes the game

AWS Activate is well known for its free tools, resources, and services that help startups quickly get started on AWS and grow their business. They recently launched a new service, Build On AWS, designed to help startups build their infrastructure in minutes. The cost of spinning up services just to figure out if its something you can use can be high, taking developers weeks of experimenting and trials. Build On AWS offers a collection of infrastructure templates and architectures that cover a wide variety of solutions. Answer a few simple questions about what you’re trying to build, and in a few clicks you can have an entire environment stood up for you.

“It takes that cost of experimentation down and allows you to see what these new technologies can do and how you can pull them into your stack,” Dethloff says.

Activate is open to early-stage startups, from the bootstrapped and self-funded to funded startups up to series A. The program offers up to $100,000 in service credits and free support to help reduce initial costs, and continues to build more tooling and resources for both technical and nontechnical founders to get advice, stand up their architecture efficiently, and more.

“At Activate, we’re obsessed about how we can make our startup customers grow and how we can get them going faster and how we can help them get to market,” Dethloff says. “It guides every decision that we make, every time.”

Want to get started on AWS Activate right now? Head over here.

And register for the VB Live event right here!

You’ll learn:

  • Best practices for developing a minimum viable product
  • How cloud services make product development more agile
  • How to increase functionality without rearchitecting, and get to market fast
  • How to take advantage of the AWS Activate program for free tools and credits

Presenters

  • Jarrett Wendt, CEO, Spoke Safety
  • Kumar Chivukula, Co-Founder & CTO, Opsera
  • Chris Munns, Technical Leader/Advisor, Startups, Amazon Web Services
  • Trent Dethloff, Senior PMT, AWS Activate, Amazon Web Services
  • Seth Colaner, Moderator, VentureBeat

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