The best products and tools to run your startup

By Shaun Symm, October 21, 2019
Startup founder with laptop full of startup stickers on it

We're often asked, by our startup clients, for recommendations on 3rd party products and tools we use internally to build startups and run our own projects.

The first thing to consider is that Launch Lab operates like a startup in that we watch our pennies closely and only spend when we absolutely have to.

While most of the products we use run off a Saas (software-as-a-service) model our lean approach means we're often able to find decent free tiers that suit our requirements.

Here are the tools we use for ourselves and for our startup:

  • GSuite: For email, documents and spreadsheets. It's cost effective and just works.
  • Google Analytics: It's free to use so as a default we add it to any website we work on unless we're asked not to.
  • Intercom: A feature rich product with live chat, a bot, product walkthrough's and marketing automation. We love the free tier which provides our startups with a great overview of who their users are and what they're doing on the platform. If you don't need all of these features and just need help desk software for your startup give Helpcrunch a try.
  • Trello: Trello is great project management tool that has an excellent free tier. The best thing about it is that it is super simple and easy to use. Trello provides a user experience that requires no learning curve and our clients can use it immediately to track the development of their project. It's also a great tool for planning product roadmaps!
  • Jira: We mainly use Trello to manage our projects but we do use Jira for internal projects. The latest version of Jira is simple to use and is perfect for agile project development.
  • Bitbucket: This is where we store and manage the code we write. If you're a first time founder and non-technical, know that your developers will most likely use Github or Bitbucket for their Git repository. Hint: If you are a solo founder and are outsourcing your application development be sure to own the repository so that you hold the keys to the kingdom.
  • AWS (Amazon Web Services): We rely on AWS for all of the infrastructure (think hosting) we use to build startups.
  • Sentry: We use Sentry on every startup application that we develop. It provides software error monitoring that alerts us to bugs and provides insights allowing us to fix them quickly.
  • Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp: We jump between these platforms for sending email marketing campaigns. If you prefer supporting an Australian company go with Campaign Monitor.
  • Stripe: We use Stripe for processing payments on all the startups we develop.
  • Twilio: We use Twilio for sending SMS triggered from actions made within an application. For example to alert users to certain actions (when SMS is preferred over email) or for verifying a mobile number. Twilio offers many services but we've mainly used their API for SMS.
  • Sketch and/or Figma: We use these tools for web design and prototyping.
  • Balsamiq: There are hundreds of wireframing tools on the market. Balsamiq was one of the originals. It's a no frills 'low-fi' approach to wireframes which we believe is the best approach.
  • Xero: For all of our accounting needs. We've recently moved from Invoicely, which offers an amazing free tier. If you want a free invoicing solution I can highly recommend them. We moved to Xero mainly because of the ATO's Single Touch Payroll requirement which came into effect in September 2019 for small businesses in Australia.
  • Slack: The perfect tool for rapid internal communication between small teams.
  • Google Hangouts / Meet: We use Google Meet for calls, video calls and screen sharing. It's free to use and on a good internet connection is very stable. A great alternative that we find our larger clients using is Zoom. If you're already using GSuite and want a decent free product try Google Meet.
  • Clockify: We've been using the free tier now for a few months internally to track all of our time so that we have insights into where our time is spent. Super easy to use and it provides valuable insights.
  • Loom: This has become indispensable. We use Loom for screen recordings. It comes in very handy for bug reporting and for creating training videos when you need to record your screen. The free tier is excellent!
  • Miro: A collaborative white board tool for creating mind maps, user flows, website information architecture, product roadmaps and more.

There are thousands of products and tools out there to choose from and many categories (eg: there are hundreds of analytics, landing page, marketing automation and CRM tools which you might need) I haven't covered.

Remember to do your research and if you're in the early stages of your startup journey try to find products with generous free tiers.

Our list hopefully provides some focus and relevance to early stage startups. There is also a huge directory of startups tools for those who want to search for tools and resources that are not listed in this post.

Just starting out?

If you're just getting started on your startup journey you might also find What does it cost to develop a startup in 2019 and Raising investment for a startup in Australia helpful.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

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