Last week at the Amazon Web Services Cloud Kata for Startups event at the Marina Bay Sands, over 800 startups, entrepreneurs, developers, venture capital and multinationals came together in the interest of innovation. Amazon’s CTO, Dr. Werner Vogels, delivered the keynote in his first appearance in Southeast Asia.
In the following panel that brought together players in the regional technology ecosystem, Dr. Werner Vogels stressed the importance of Southeast Asia for Amazon Web Services (AWS), referring to the large regional population, steady economic growth and increased penetration of mobile and Internet. Amazon’s Pieter Kemps, who handles business development and venture capital in Asia, added that, “We have grown our team on the ground to help our customers in the key ASEAN markets. We now have people fully focused on serving our customers in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines and we are continuing to leverage this approach to support our customers in other ASEAN countries.” He also mentioned that the strong focus in Southeast Asia will see Amazon Web Services continuing to empower startups through activities such as webinars, trainings, workshops and more. Amazon Web Services recently organized the first ‘AWSome Day’ in Singapore, a full-day training session that the company runs in key markets. The cloud computing giant has also recently launched the AWS Certification program.
Some panelists commented on the event. Danny Castonguay, the CTO of Manila based YCombinator startup Kalibrr said: “It speaks very much of AWS’ commitment to listen to the small guys and to help them grow their business.” Khailee Ng,Venture Partner at 500Startups noticed that “Not many companies the size of Amazon send their CTO down on the ground to connect with customers, especially in this part of the world, and it means a lot to people in the ecosystem.”
The panel was also joined by Thijs Jacobs (CEO of Pie), Edgar Hardless (CEO of SingTel Innov8), Paul Santos (Managing Partner at Wavemaker Labs), Mohan Belani (CEO of e27) and Lim Kuo-Yi (CEO of Infocomm Investments).
The highlight of the event was the AWS Coding Challenge where 30 developers competed against each other to build and launch a photo sharing app on Amazon Web Services Cloud platform within 30 minutes. With RedBull in hand, the developers were querying Github and StackOverflow, churning out code as fast as they could. The coders were filmed in real-time to allow the audience to watch their progress on a large screen. Arzumy MD, CTO of SAYS in Malaysia, took home the crown at the challenge. He looked back at the event and commented: “It was an eye opener to learn directly from Amazon Web Services. Everyone from the architects up to the CTO was genuinely helpful and really care about growing start-ups.”
While AWS has been effectively reaching out to technology startups throughout Southeast Asia and Asia Pacific over the years, some members of the community had feedback for the company’s operations in Asia. Mohan and Kuo-Yi did ask AWS to continue to communicate and simplify the message on the technology services of AWS. As Amazon Web Services continues to innovate quickly to expand its service offerings, it is important for startups to have a good idea on what each of the services does so that they could effectively use it for their product development.
Cloud Kata for Startups also held three in-depth sessions which were kicked off by some of the startups in ASEAN that run on AWS: Tyler Projects, PicMix and Semantics3. These startups showed how they have been successfully using AWS, and were followed by presentations and live demonstrations where AWS Startup Business Development Manager Joe Ziegler showed the audience in real time how easy it is to create your minimum viable product and scale up services quickly, while keeping costs down.