Today I wanted to share what online tools & services (Free or Paid) I have used for my SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) startup Appvigil in past few years.
I am running my SaaS startup since last 5 years and tried many tools while assessing them for the short & long period. Here is the list of tools I have used in Sales, Marketing, Technical Development, Dev-Ops, Infrastructures, finance, HR etc.
- AWS (Amazon Web Services)AWS:
I am using AWS since the beginning of my journey and found it best for setting up any cloud. Since you want infrastructure for your SaaS company to be scalable & reliable you would want to go for some scalable cloud solution. There are many in the market but AWS is most widely used & oldest player in the market. We have used AWS’s many services given below:
- EC2: For setting up servers & load balancer. We have used Ubuntu 14.04 for our server. Best & easy to setup.
- RDS: For scalable relational database. We have used MySQL.
- SES: For sending transactional & other emails. We used Sendmail (in ubuntu) for routing our email through SES SMTP server.
- Route53: For DNS hosting, most reliable & cheapest way to host your DNS zone file.
- SQS: For queuing our tasks to the scalable Queue. You just add any string to it and fetch them whenever you want to process.
- CloudWatch: For monitoring any cloud metrics & performance.
We used GitHub for hosting our source code. At the time of writing this article Github has $7/Mo for unlimited private repositories. However, If you want to save even $7, you can go for bitbucket which allows you to create limited private repositories for free. Both are good options but Github is more famous & used worldwide.
This is the best tools for sending transactional email directly to user’s inbox without being worried about timeline & designing template. This also allows tracking the delivery & open tracking of the emails with other powerful features. There are other options as well but we found Postmark to be more stable & easy to use. They also offer, 25,000 emails for free while signing up & you can recharge your account for $37 whenever you run out of credit. 25,000 emails were good for next 6 months so we were not bothered.
We used Jenkins for Continous Integration & testing automation. Undoubtedly this is the best free option. If you want to go for paid options there are many like Travis CI, Bamboo (Atlassian) but why to go for paid when you have a best free option.
As of now, I can remember these many major tools or platforms I have used previously in technology.
Sales, Marketing & Operations
We have tried to automate our sales & marketing efforts so that we can do everything will smaller team size. Below is the list of tools we have used & found them useful.
- Google Business Apps:
The best option for hosting your domain’s emails with Gmail environment. This also gives each user every option they have in Gmail, with better & centralised control in your hand. They recently rolled our device manager service where our user has to accept the policy of your organization before using your company’s email on their mobile phone. You have absolute control to wipe the phone in case it is lost to avoid any corporate damage.
- Pipedrive CRM:
We used Zoho CRM initially but it confused the user who was using the CRM for the first time. We then later switched to Pipedrive & found it useful due to its to-do list type of look & feel & easy to use the mobile app. Pipedrive also has $12/Mo/User pricing which is justified for startups. Integration with other apps via Zapier is also very mature.
For remote meeting and calls, we have used GoToMeeting (GTM). This is free for 3 participants & $26/Month for up to 50 participants. We find it very easy to use with good quality voice & screen sharing.
- Google Voice:
This is a pretty crazy thing most of the startup is not aware of. Google voice helps you making international call with $.01/Minute rate. This means (At the time of this article) you have to pay only 67 Paisa per minute while traditional call charges up to INR 20/Minute.
We used MailChimp for sending newsletters. This is the most reliable & widely used option which allows free 12,000 emails per month for up to 2000 subscribers. We created multiple lists to categorise our subscribers & send them newsletters & product updates on the weekly or bi-weekly basis.
We used Zoikmail for sending promotional emails in bulk. Let’s say you tied up with some corporate event & want to send a promotional offer to the 50,000 email ids. I would highly recommend using Zoikmail. They offer a free plan for 50,000 email per month.
We used HootSuite for sending or scheduling multiple social media posts together. This is another widely used solution for this purpose. We highly recommend using this tool.
Intercom is another fantastic tool for support, retention & acquire users in a very powerful way. This is a paid tool but every penny spent on this tools is worth it. We have paid $61/Month for their full suite.
- You can have chat with your website visitors & create the leads.
- You can chat with signed-up users & give them support.
- Connect FB page & Twitter account & receive+reply to those messages via Intercom dashboard or app.
- Auto trigger personalized messages if users do not visit your site for ‘x’ days.
- Create leads automatically when the user fills the form on your website via their APIs.
- And much more.
- Google Analytics:
Best free option for tracking visitors & users behaviour. We used custom tracking to track our own events when the user or visitor interact with the application.
- FB Pixel & Tracking:
We also used FB pixel to track visitors & re-target them with custom ads & offers. You just put the FB Pixel code into your website and start collecting visitors or users into specific audience based on types of the event they send to your FB app.
We used & still using MaxCDN for CDN option to reduce the load time of our blog. This has many options & plugin to improve your website very quickly.
- Bitly & Yourls:
We used Bitly for URL shortener which was integrated with many other services like SumoMe etc. Bitly has 5000/Month Branded URL limit for free users so we switched to Yourls (Free Opensource URL shortener with APIs) & hosted Yours to our own server. Now we can short unlimited URLs anytime with one click & script.
We used SEMrush for tracking our own website ranking in google & other search engines. We highly recommend using SEMrush for tracking any analyzing SEO ranking keywords, organic keyword traffic & much more. This tool is way too big for a beginner.
HR & Finance
We used the grey tip for payroll management & attendance tracking loosely. We were never too strict about attendance as long as we are getting the output or results for our people.
We used recruiterBox for getting applicants applied to the jobs via our website & track their application, interview process, results all at one place. Very good tool for posting opening & hiring people quickly.
We used tally via our accountant to keep the record of our expenses & income.
That’s all for now. I will share WordPress Plugins & Payment Gateways that we have used, in a separate post.
Please add comments if you recommend any other tool.