The top innovative startups using AWS in South Africa 

4 min read
10 Dec 2019

WS has been helping startups build for over 13 years, and has been the preferred cloud for startups since its launch. Whether it's startups reaching successful IPOs, like Netflix, or building globally loved games, like Epic Games' Fortnite, or Airbnb, fundamentally changing the way people travel, all of these companies embarked on their first line of code, their first customers, using AWS.

The SA startups growing with AWS

The list of South African startups working with AWS covers various sectors and includes fintech startups WiGroup, Zoona, Jumo, Zapper, GotBot, Ozow, African Coin Exchange, Bridgement, SnapBill, Luno, PineappleRapidtrade and Ctrl, as well as Custos (media), Sensor Networks (insurance, IoT), SkillUp (edtech), PageMan (media), CloudOne.Mobi (retail), Africam (conservation), Dataprophet (machine learning), RecoMed (health), Appchemy (software and technology), FilePounder (software and technology), Tapsnapp (retail) and Digital Cabinet (digital workflows). 

“Most of these founders have shared their stories on “Startups on Air” and some have also featured in Founder Stories. There are also startups who make food or goods, like PuraSoda, which AWS Startups assists by now also using its products in our AWS offices,” said an AWS spokesperson.

For some of these startups, the impact of AWS has been huge. For Bitcoin exchange Luno, it guaranteed the high security levels and seamless uptime that were crucial to building its customer base.

“We were part of the Digital Currency Group, which works with AWS to help startups develop Bitcoin products and services. This was how we got on to the AWS Activate program, which was integral in getting our business off the ground,” said Timothy Stranex, Luno’s chief technology officer.

For IoT startup Sensor Networks, the issue was about building, training, and deploying machine learning models quickly, with AWS’ intuitive and user-friendly services allowing the company’s data scientists to focus on what they were best at and customize solutions for their customers.

Be it through active acceleration or providing the infrastructure with which some of South Africa’s most innovative startups are building their products, AWS is helping power some of the most exciting companies in the business.

Cape Town-based startup Custos Media Technologies. Photo: Startup Guide

We started as a startup back in 1996 and continue to operate like one today. We’ve helped the largest startups in the world and continue to help the next wave of entrepreneurs

“We understand startups”

The spokesperson believes AWS is such a good fit for South African startup companies because it builds its products and services with them in mind.

“We started as a startup back in 1996 and continue to operate like one today. We’ve helped the largest startups in the world and continue to help the next wave of entrepreneurs,” they said.

“We understand startups, and we have a dedicated Startup Business Development team comprised of startup founders, former investors, and startup executives. The team works closely with all the top VCs, accelerators, and incubators around the globe,” the spokesperson explains. 

These are startup experts who understand developing business plans, approaches to user acquisition, marketing at early stages, what a good pitch deck looks like, and more. 

“They are some of the many startup experts here at AWS dedicated to helping you and your company,” says the spokesperson.

Amazon has developed a number of programs to help startups engage with not just the millions of customers on AWS but also the millions of shoppers on

These programs help companies tap into marketplaces, partner networks, credits and business support.

Most importantly, however, startups choose AWS because, their spokesperson says, it offers the broadest technical capabilities. 

“The tech we provide gives startups an advantage in a market where they believe their ideas and speed of execution will give them an advantage over competitors. Today, with having access to over 160 services, no idea is too big for an early stage team to tackle,” the spokesperson says. 

“Whether you’re processing billions of events a day, ingesting data from satellites using AWS Ground Station, or deploying millions of IoT devices into the farming industry with AWS IoT, these services all let you go from idea to market in record time.”

A community of builders

What startups find perhaps most appealing about AWS is its community, which hosts over 1,100 AWS meetups worldwide. 

“So find a local meetup and meet those in your community who are equally as passionate about building new products!” the spokesperson says. 

But what about when a founder is at home at 2 AM and looking for an answer? 

“We have an enormous online community, such as Stack Overflow with thousands of questions related to AWS. Reddit has 75,000 members contributing often to help. So be aware of this growing community that founders and small business can engage with, contribute to, and learn from,” says the AWS spokesperson.

“There are also a large number of github projects related to AWS. Startups contribute a great deal of their open source projects back to the community.” 

When founders successfully grow their businesses they contribute not only to other founders but to the development community

Examples include Airbnb’s AirFlow platform, which allows users to programmatically author, schedule and monitor data pipelines, and companies like Segment, which publishes its entire terraform configurations to help developers set up the same enterprise grade infrastructure the Segment team runs on. 

“With such a large community, it’s easier to make the right technical hires for a company. It’s easier to find developers and engineers who are familiar with the AWS platform, and who are going to be excited to start using our new services to help develop your next product,” the spokesperson says.

AWS has a dedicated startup team because startups and small businesses are a priority for the company, not just in terms of startups being key AWS customers, but also in terms of their contribution to the entire AWS ecosystem.

“When founders successfully grow their businesses,” the spokesperson explains, “they contribute not only to other founders but to the development community, which creates a fast and positive cycle in terms of skills, jobs, and innovations, which in turn assists investors and enterprises who buy and deploy directly from the startup marketplace.”

AWS is keen to perpetuate this cycle, supporting accelerators, incubators and investors so that more startups are encouraged to become part of the AWS ecosystem, eventually providing skills and expertise that will benefit future South African startups.

Main photo: Dataprophet by Startup Guide Cape Town

All photos: Startup Guide Cape Town