Matt Mickiewicz, Founder of 99designs
Matt Mickiewicz, together with Mark Harbottle, co-founded 99designs and disrupted the graphic design industry by making the crowdsourcing of graphic design accessible to small business owners. Matt is a frequent public speaker, and owns not one, but TWO iPads.
From the Words of Matt Himself…
We were in the process of launching 99designs in late 2007, and were investigating hosting solutions from providers like Rackspace and Media Temple. Initial quotes were coming in at six figures per year, with absolutely no guarantee that the server infrastructure could scale, or that our costs wouldn't rapidly increase from that point.
Then I read about "Amazon Web Services," where you could rent servers in Amazon's data centers on a per-hour basis, and pay for data storage on a per GB basis (Amazon S3). Back in 2007, Amazon Web Services was very new, and untested. The tools for developing cloud computing applications were in their infancy, and Amazon didn't even offer a service level guarantee to keep our website going. Despite the risk, we decided to roll the dice and just go for it, building many of our own tools along the way.
The 99designs hosting infrastructure has been able to scale up rapidly, handling our massive growth over the last two years with virtually no outages, even after big spikes in traffic from being on the Yahoo! home page or winning a Webby Award. We are handling image uploads to the tune of one every seven seconds, have over a terabyte of image data stored, and are paying a fraction of what we were quoted back in 2007 for dedicated servers.
Don't be tied down to the "old" way of doing things. The Web is rapidly evolving, and it's often worth taking risks with your startup infrastructure if the potential payoffs are justified.