Over the summer months, we'd like to share a few stories from startups around the world: what are they working on and how they are using the cloud to get things done. Today, we're profiling Appscend, from Bucharest, Romania!
Appscend is a sign that catching the "startup bug" and being able to run a high-tech company is possible waay outside Silicon Valley, in Romania, where startups don't have the benefit of tapping into a support system and extensive mentorship. I spoke to Gabi Dobocan, Appscend Cofounder, who was quick to tell me that his small team enjoys the challenge and is eager to work at least 10 times as hard as their counterparts in other countries in order to compete. To date, they have received support from local angel investor and mentor, Peter Barta, and from an extended entrepreneur network from Western Europe. We wish Gabi and his team the best of luck :)
Appscend offers a series of products geared at enabling our customers to build rich mobile apps apps using an intuitive, customizable interface. Our target audience is made up of digital publishers and agencies, so our products need to be easy to use and offer a wide array of functionality: we offer a mobile CMS, accessible for anyone that doesn't have a way to host their content elsewhere and have made it easy for users to import and export content. We help customers who build their mobile apps through Appscend track social activity around their content and we also offer them the ability to implement in-app purchases. In addition, to help our customers further monetize their mobile apps, we have enabled them to display ads inside their apps through an ad management server.
To build all these products, we use most of the cloud web services provided by Amazon Web Services and are delighted to call our implementation 100% AWSomeness.
- Amazon S3 buckets are used for storing all the multimedia content used in the apps, optimized for mobile consumption.
- The S3 buckets are connected to a Amazon CloudFront distribution to insure minimum latency wherever our clients' end-users are located.
- Our customer dashboard, as well as all background processes, are hosted on Amazon EC2 instances.
- The Amazon EC2 instances are placed into Elastic Load Balancers, so that we can enable auto-scaling through Amazon CloudWatch when needed.
- Our ad server is based on Google Adwhirl and is hosted on an Amazon EC2 instance.
- The software connects to Amazon SimpleDB domains that hold information regarding to the apps and statistics.
- Everything is powered by a MySQL 5 Enterprise server hosted on an Amazon RDS instance. We find it a good solution because we can scale very easily and the performance provided is excellent.
Finally, we keep in touch with our clients by sending email messages through Amazon SES, and we've also configured email alerts for our operators using the same service. In the future, we will look at implementing AWS CloudFormation in order to be able to provision resources as quickly as possible.
On Building a Startup in Romania and the Mobile Market
Right now, we're living our dream and working on our passion. It's really what makes us happy, what makes us grow, and at the end of the (12 hour working) day, that's all that matters. We survive, we take nothing for granted, and we do good with limited resources.
The mobile market is really still a young, fragmented market and we work hard to always be alert, listen and learn as much as we can. We're probably gonna change a lot of this product in the next year, and we welcome that :) Challenging your own beliefs and being flexible and open-minded is the only real way to evolve I think - as a company and as a person.