22 essential SaaS tools to bootstrap your internet startup
When you start up a SaaS company without any outside investment, you learn that it hurts to spend your own money. You also learn to be super frugal with it and to make smart choices when it comes to the tools and services you use.
Over the 7 years of growing Trackur, I’ve found 22 tools that I use to make things run smoothly. Some are free, many are super cheap, and those that do have a higher price tag end up saving a lot of personnel time.
I’ve decided that this might be a list that startups might find of interest, so I’m sharing it below. None of the companies listed asked to be on the list and I get no kickbacks from any of the links.
1. WordPress – website
This shouldn’t need much explanation. I first started using WordPress back in 2006 and I now pretty much use it exclusively for all customer-facing websites that I build. With affordable themes, free plugins, and a ton of developer support, I’d be crazy to use anything else.
2. Tumblr – blog
OK, so here’s an exception to my WordPress rule. I use a Tumblr site exclusively to host our Trackur Status blog. If all of our servers go down–heaven forbid–this blog should remain up and running so we can provide our customers with updates.
3. Google Analytics – web analytics
I’ve tried many different web analytics tools, but Google Analytics is hard to beat–especially the price! 😉
4. Feedly – RSS reader
Like many, I was dismayed when Google Reader shut down. Fortunately I found Feedly and they’ve worked hard to provide excellent features in their RSS reader. While I don’t subscribe to as many RSS feeds as I once used to, I still use Feedly to get feeds for my favorite sites and also important Trackur alerts.
5. Trackur – social media monitoring
Well duh! We built Trackur because Google Alerts sucked and everything else was either too complicated or too expensive. I still track our performance against some Google Alerts and always enjoy it when we discover items before Google!
6. Hootsuite – social media engagement
By far the best way to interact and post on Twitter is via Hootsuite. Multiple users can access a single Twitter account and you can schedule posts etc. The Twitter.com web interface has come a long way, but Hootsuite is still my #1 choice!
7. Zendesk – help desk
I know there are many new up and coming help desk companies, but I’ve been using Zendesk for many years. It’s affordable, customizable, and allows us to provide excellent customer service without needing a huge support team. The smartphone apps are especially useful–I can resolve a ticket while out to dinner or sitting in an airport.
8. Kashoo – accounting
I’m nuts about Kashoo (get it?). For years I searched for a simple alternative to Quickbooks and finally found it a few years ago in Kashoo. How easy is it to use? Well, I do all of my own accounting because it makes it THAT easy!
9. Basecamp – project management
OK, I may have a man crush on Jason Fried. He probably doesn’t even realize that he and 37Signals have been my unofficial mentor for years. Basecamp is the epitome of easy to use software that is affordable and requires little customer support. We use it to keep track and prioritize development projects and new feature updates. Well worth the $20 we pay each month.
10. PayPal/Braintree – payment processing
I have a love/hate relationship with PayPal–their dispute resolution is horrible–but can’t say enough good things about Braintree. Just as we were migrating all payments over to Braintree, PayPal came along and acquired them. So far, they’ve not ruined it. 😉
11. Freshbooks – invoicing
I don’t send out a lot of invoices, but when I do, I use Freshbooks.
12. Securi – malware security
After a WordPress hack that left me scrambling to clean up malicious code, I decided that Securi was the best way to keep an eye on our site, protect it from attacks, and let visitors know that we’re safe and secure.
13. iubenda – privacy policies
14. Hostdime – hosting
My top choice for hosting is Hostdime. They’ve taken good care of us and have excellent uptime. They’re also pretty cool folks, so that helps.
15. Hivelocity – hosting two
My second choice for hosting goes to Hivelocity. We use them for secondary servers or if I just need something quick and affordable.
16. Synthesis – hosting too
An honorable mention to Synthesis. I use these guys to host Marketing Pilgrim and they do an superb job at a very attractive rate.
17. Vimeo – video player
Of course I use YouTube, but for Trackur’s video tutorials and such, I like the clean, ad-free options provided by Vimeo.
18. Pingdom – website uptime
Kudos to our SysAdmin Jesse for keeping us close to 100% uptime. For those rare times that our server does go down, Pingdom watches the site for us…even while we sleep.
19. MaxCDN – content delivery network
A shout out to my buddy Ben Wills for this affordable find. I started using them a couple of months ago and so far have found them to be a very affordable and reliable Content Delivery Network. Google around to find a coupon that gets your monthly rate below $10!
20. Envato – web creative
Whenever I need a WordPress theme, jingle, or any other kind of web collateral, I head to the Envato Market. You can get a super cool WordPress theme for around $50 and then customize the heck out of it!
21. iStockPhoto – royalty free images
I know there are trendier royalty-free stock photo sites, but I’ve been using iStockPhoto for years and they have a great selection. Whenever I speak at a conference, I make my slide decks much more interesting thanks to their images.
22. Gyazo – screen grabs
Sometimes it’s easier to show someone what you are seeing on your screen, than describe it. Gyazo is a quick, free, and easy way to share screen grabs over the web.
So, what would you add? Any tools that you really like that you think should be added to the list?
16 Comments for “22 essential SaaS tools to bootstrap your internet startup”
Almost forgot Mailchimp.com for email marketing!
This seems to be a great list. Would like to add Invoicera to this list of products. Invoicera is a feature rich software with invoicing, time tracking and and expense management capabilities. It helps you schedule invoices and focus on your work. Besides that it has got a quick and simple user interface that save you a-lot of precious time. It has got Multiple Languages and payment gateways which makes it a global product.
Sneaky! I tell you what, I won’t mark this as spam, if you provide two more tools that you love that you’re NOT affiliated with. 😉
Sure… I prefer Saleforce for CRM and Basecamp for Project Management!
Great list Andy. Very useful! Try DollarPhotoClub.com too everything it seems from Shutterstock but for a dollar! It’s my secret weapon! 😉
Good tip, thanks!
A great list with some new ones to try for me. Here are three that we use and a wee plug for my own tool that still fits the bill.
1. BirdSong – Social Media insights focusing on what brands are doing, when and how. Analysing who their followers are, and more. We don’t do mention tracking so no competition to Trackur! http://www.birdsonganalytics.com
2. Postmark – we moved to Postmark to send out our report emails and customer comms. We had free emails from our AWS package but started to see deliverability issues. Moving to Postmark means all our emails are now delivered for a few pounds every month (they charge on a credit system.) I’d like to see it now have more analysis, more than just open rates, but for the price it’s been a great foundation for growth. http://www.postmarkapp.com
3. Intercom.io – We started using Intercom to provide a front end of our user database, understand more about our customers and connect with them. We now use it for daily communication with customers. The tool is only as good as the data you push to it but it can be powerful to deliver segmented messages. http://www.intercom.io
4. Slack – This is a new one for us, just last month. All our internal comms is now run through Slack. We can compartmentalise conversations, themes and threads, store basic files and maintain a record of conversations. The ability to feed it with webhooks means we can see our Stripe sales records and other data in one place. Slack is now the first thing I check in the morning. https://slack.com/
Hello Andy, I’d like to add the need for time tracking tool as it is very important for any entrepreneur to juggle between tasks!
Interesting list, I also suggest creately visualization and collaboration tool. its cloud supported and there are versions for every platform as well.
Great list (I already use 7 of them on a regular basis) ! But you forget http://www.dareboost.com 😉 A free version is available to help startupers to optimize and manage the speed and the quality of their websites 🙂
For my startup I use combination of proofhub and freshbooks for my projects. Combination of both is helping us a lot. In my opinion you must check it out as well.
Very helpful list, thanks! 🙂 Please check also Brand24, to improve your small (but also bigger) business. That tool tracks your brand awareness online, collects all mentions and helps you engage with people/potential clients. There’s 14-day free trial to see how it can boost effects of your work on the web. 🙂 https://brand24.net/
Muy buena lista
Solid list of tools. For companies who want to expand on Google Analytics, they could checkout Kissmetrics/Mixpanel/Segment. These tools are much better at looking at retention and engagement within your app.
On the payments side, I love Stripe. Very similar to Braintree minus the association with Paypal 🙂
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