Amazon Web Services closed out its sixth annual Global Start-Up Challenge on Thursday evening with finalists flown in from Australia to Finland to India.
AWS kicked off the contest back in September, with the offer to award $100,000 in cash and rewards to the startup with the best and most innovative implementation of Amazon cloud services. For example, all contestants had to take advantage of AWS products, such as Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) or Simple Storage Service (S3).
The deadline passed back in November, and startup finalists presented their ideas to a diverse panel of C-level executives, lead engineers, product and IT managers, angel investors, and venture capitalists today.
Note that to qualify as a startup, the company could not have earned more than US$10 million in gross annual revenues and raised no more than US$10 million in outside funding.
Here's the breakdown of prizes--and they are fairly hefty. There are four grand prize winners, with one from each of the following categories: Big Data & High Performance Computing; Gaming; Consumer Applications; and Business Applications.
From there, each grand prize winner is awarded $50,000 in cash, $50,000 in AWS credits, AWS Support services at the business-level tier for one year, and technical mentorship from AWS.
Below are the grand prize winners, as well as a fifth startup lauded with the audience choice award, which came with $5,000 in funds:
Big Data & High Performance Computing: Mortar developed an open source development framework for building big data pipelines through Hadoop. The New York startup also produced a Hadoop platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for executing code written in the Mortar framework on AWS' Elastic MapReduce
Gaming: Grand Cru from Finland is focused on "creativity-based gameplay," which company leaders explained as a game where people can express themselves on a larger scale. So far, Grand Cru has produced The Supernauts, a futuristic game reminiscent of The Sims, in which users can build a new version of Earth. But the game requires connectivity, not only because it's an online, multi-player experience, but it also produces user analytics in real-time. Developers added that Grand Cru is focused only on iOS devices right now
Consumer & Marketing Applications: LogMyCalls touted that it does for phone calls what "Google does for data." Also comparing itself to recommendations when shopping on Amazon, the Utah startup pulls data from phone calls and acts accordingly based on the information. Describing call analytics as "$3 billion opportunity," LogMyCalls was "founded on patents and proprietary algorithms." Since launching in May, the startup has already signed on 362 enterprise customers that pay an average of $442 month, generating an 80 percent gross profit margin for LogMyCalls. Company leaders said that "this is a business model that can scale, so we need an infrastructure that can scale"
Business Applications: TraceLink provides a cloud-based service to track counterfeit drugs. Citing that more than 100,000 people die each year from counterfeit drugs and that incidents have grown 500 percent in the last five years, the Massachusetts-based startup said that many of these cases could have been preventable with a global database. Based on AWS, TraceLink has built an infrastructure to enable and connect pharmaceutical supply chain partners to process information, from production through distribution, down to patients, through smartphone apps and other plug-and-play portals. So far, pharmaceutical giant Merck has given TraceLink access to 90 percent of all supply network end points
Audience Choice: Poikos from the Netherlands has developed "a pocket body measurement" system for PCs, tablets, and smartphones. Essentially, it's a 3D body imaging and measuring solution, with potential use cases for healthcare and e-commerce in particular. With patents pending in the European Union and the United States, it doesn't require any hardware, and there is an API and app code available for developers.
The evening wrapped up as leaders from each of these companies had the chance to hold a gavel and pummel a physical server on stage.