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 Classle, from Chennai, India!
I recently read Mark Suster’s blog on Avoiding Monoculture - which is why I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned about Classle, a startup from India, focused on solving education problems for areas of the world that experience serious resource constraints. Classle has the big goal of changing the world around them by encouraging students and experts to share knowledge and expertise, and using the AWS cloud to facilitate this exchange.
I reached out to Vaidya Nathan, Founder and CEO of Classle:
Classle is a Social Learning infrastructure company with specific focus on Education, Learning and Knowledge communities. Using the main Classle product, Cloud Campus platform, Classle creates and manages private and public social learning environments and offers services based on it.
Classle helps rural students access higher education and reach opportunities unavailable before. Our company partners with a wide network of colleges throughout India, which act as internet-connected "learning nodes" that distribute educational materials to students. When the student goes home for the day with their downloaded lectures and other materials from the library, Classle makes use of mobile technology and SMS-based quizzes to keep students engaged and actively learning. The entire system was designed to work with simple, $10 phones, not smartphones, and the students are entirely addicted to these quizzes - they can’t get enough of them.
All these services are provided free of charge to both students and colleges. Classle monetizes by partnering with companies who are looking to hire top talent from among the students, and by selling their cloud-based learning platform for training purposes within companies.
We are using AWS since our inception in early 2009. Our first steps involved two small Amazon EC2 instances and Amazon EBS to store our database. Over the years, our use has expanded to match our business growth. Our selection criteria covered tactical as well as strategic points. From a tactical perspective, we wanted a quicker time for provisioning, which AWS on-demand instances enabled, and the option to secure our resource needs through Reserved Instances.
At a strategic level, we wanted to provide the best experience for our customers and it was key to build Classle on top of services, products, and infrastructure designed for growth and scale. To date, we have established relationships with over 30 educational organizations and that list is constantly growing. Thanks to AWS, we are effectively competing with some large and strong players in the e-learning space.
Sharing the AWS Lessons:
We are a small, LAMP stack team and we started using AWS in 2009. Currently, the products we are using are below. For reference, we are also happy to share our Classle architecture diagram, which is included in our case study with AWS.
- Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
- Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
- AutoscalingAmazon Elastic Bock Storage (EBS)
- Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)
- Amazon Reduced Redundancy Storage (RRS)
- Amazon CloudFront with both streaming and download
- Amazon Cloud Watch
- Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) with Multi-AZ and Read replication.
- Amazon SimpleDB
- Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS)
- Amazon Route 53
Pretty soon, we would be using Amazon Elastic Map-Reduce clusters for our analytics requirements..
Words of Wisdom to Startups
Starting a company is always hard, whether you’re from India or anywhere else. However, it’s worth to keep in mind that it’s never been easier to go out there and try things out - with Open Source for robust software and cloud service providers like AWS for infrastructure, you can test your ideas and run a business at very low cost.
Being from in India, where we don’t have a strong start-up mentality like in the U.S., certainly poses some unique challenges. There are many more problems to solve, and it is exciting to try and translate the existing limitations into innovations, solutions and hence opportunities.
If I had to boil down my advice, I would say to my fellow entrepreneurs to: venture with confidence, design for scale, start small & architect for growth.
Enter Your Startup in the AWS Start-up Challenge!
This year's AWS Start-up Challenge is a worldwide competition with prizes at all levels, including up to $100,000 in cash, AWS credits, and more for the grand prize winner. Learn more and enter today!
You can also follow @AWSStartups on Twitter for updates.