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Amazon Startup Challenge


The Amazon Startup Challenge is down to seven finalists clawing for the $100,000 grand prize. As most of you know, I’m a huge fan of Amazon Web Services and startups that leverage the low cost – high scalability services. The seven finalists chosen by Amazon have truly interesting business models.

Encoding.com has transformed video encoding from a traditional software model to a software as a service (SaaS) platform. Encoding.com combines elastic computing resources with cutting edge video encoding software.

Startup Addict Musings:

I use to do a ton of encoding in my film and television days and used out of the box software like Sorenson and Cleaner for encoding. Having a SaaS is a boon for producers and editors who can load content from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, completely software and platform agnostic. There will be a clear need for this business model…and you gotta love the tier 1 domain name, probably worth 250K just for the domain name.

Knewton supercharges any education content by teaching the exact concepts students need, in the medium and pacing best for each. Knewton’s self-optimizing “Darwinian” engine grows increasingly effective as each new student joins the network – so the learning plan of the 50 millionth student is powered by the combined data of all the others.

Startup Addict Musings:

A niche focused startup that offers 9 hours of free instruction and free GMAT test just to try it out. It’s the Moores law of education

MedCommons provides cloud-based Health 2.0 application services for patients and doctors, and enables third parties to customize and extend the MedCommons Platform for their own needs.

Startup Addict Musings:

The customization and application extension of this platfrom will really shine. Medcommons will be able to deliver at a far superior price point then competitors as well.

Sonian is a cloud compute email productivity service. Each day, 86 billion emails and IMs are created and most of this information needs to be saved and indexed for compliance and personal productivity. Sonian solves this problem with next generation software running on the Amazon Web Services cloud. Sonian archives electronic communications, files and unstructured content to unlock the actionable intelligence stored in this “dark data.”

Startup Addict Musings:

Seems like a pure data play to me and will have fierce competition. Focusing on enterprise or legacy systems may be the model.

Pixily is an interactive document management service that organizes paper and electronic materials online so people can instantly find and share information whenever and wherever they need it. For consumers, Pixily serves as a digital organization assistant that reduces paper clutter and helps manage personal information more efficiently. Businesses rely on Pixily as an affordable on-demand document management service to streamline daily operations and be more productive.

Startup Addict Musings:

A great concept to bring on-demand document management to the web, but getting businesses to send along sensitive documents and data will be a stumbling block for this model.

Yieldex delivers accurate forecasting of overlapping online advertising inventory and optimal campaign allocation for online publishers. Our tools help publishers get more revenue from their premium inventory through in-depth proposal analysis, scenario planning, and Yieldex’s proprietary yield index.

Startup Addict Musings:

Advertising metrics is always a profitable arena, but the proof is in the pudding. If Yieldex can really accomplish accurate forecasting, squeezing more revenue for the publisher and managing ad inventory it should be a winner. The company may face some turbulence with the consolidation of advertising networks and the general economic haze.

Zephyr enables enterprises to manage their test departments more efficiently, boost productivity, reduce costs and provide IT leaders with real-time visibility into all aspects of their software quality cycle.

Startup Addict Musings:

Web 2.0 outsourcing at it’s best…difficult to comment until I try the software, but a solid approach to a real world problem.

Financials on a few of the companies mentioned in this article

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