We’ve given tonnes of software a go on a shoestring budget. Here’s our current kit bag with a brief overview of each product, that combined, allows us to run the Crewmojo business.
A couple of notes: Pricing shown is the entry level plans for each of the providers, so as we grow and need access to more features our costs will naturally grow. We’re bootstrapping and not paying ourselves, so there are no salaries included. There is a mix of USD and AUD pricing — I didn’t convert because the amounts are low.
In summary there are 3 major categories of spend:
- Business operations, where we spend $341 per month
- Application hosting costs us circa $450 per month (only just gone up as we moved off the AWS free tier)
- Marketing with paid ads, where we spend $1000 per month
- Allens A-Suite — All the legal documents you need for FREE. An amazing resource of shareholder agreements, company constitution, employee agreements, NDA’s plus many more. This helped us get through the horrendously boring but incredibly important documentation phase very quickly.
- Google G-Suite — our choice for email, file storage, calendar, documents, spreadsheets etc. $5 per user per month.
- Slack — messaging and collaboration platform for our internal team, we’ve been using it since we started and literally do not send any internal emails. We also integrate other feeds like Google Analytics, customer help and key events from out app like signups and losses — it feels like our central control panel for the business. Free.
- Xero — online accounting software, say no more. $50 per month.
- Trello — great for planning, organizing and collaborating on all the stuff a startup needs to get done. Free.
- Squarespace — website and hosting (plus shopping cart if you need it). I’ve played with a lot of website platforms! Squarespace is incredibly easy to get setup, simple to make changes, looks great on mobile sized screens and is pretty damn flexible. $16 per month.
- Pixabay — a seriously good library of totally free images for commercial use. Has been great for our blog headers and other collateral (like the top of this article). I can’t thank these guys and the photographers enough for the amount of images we’ve used. Free.
- Mockup Phone — really easy to produce professional images of our app appearing on phone’s or other devices. Another real gem of a service. Free.
- Campaign Monitor — email newsletters that look really slick, especially when viewed on mobile devices, it’s super easy to create the emails — Campaign Monitor simply get this right! We tried CM for transactional emails (app generated emails like password resets etc) and didn’t have a great experience, some emails were logged as sent but weren’t and a few other glitches that simply made us lose confidence. $9 per month.
- SendGrid — for transactional emails SendGrid does the job very nicely. We tried to consolidate email newsletters with Sendgrid as well but this was a mistake. It has a pretty terrible interface for managing subscriber lists and from an Aussie perspective the GUI is damn slow. $9.95 per month. If I had my time again, I’d go with PostMark in a heartbeat — the team and platform are amazing, I was just too late realizing.
- Stripe — for receiving credit card payments, super quick and simple to get setup. Both from a technical perspective and a business application perspective. Pricing is reasonable but we will move to our own merchant facility and a payment gateway once volumes build. 1.75% (domestic cards) and 2.9% (International cards) plus 30c for each transaction.
- Google Analytics — integrated with Google Adwords, we’re able to measure the effectiveness of our ads in terms of traffic, conversions and a bunch of other goals we track. Free.
- Mixpanel — assigns a unique Id to each website visitor and allows us to track every click performed on our website and in our app. You could argue it’s a bit of a double up with Google Analytics but we’re able to slice and dice the vast amounts of data a lot easier with Mixpanel. Additionally we use Mixpanel for customised drip campaigns based on individual user behaviours in the app. $150 per month (we moved off the free version after exceeding 1500 app users).
- Slaask — the little widget on our website (with my mugshot on it) allows visitors to have a live conversation with us. We particularly like Slaask because it integrates straight into Slack so we don’t have another tool to keep eye on. $17 per month.
- Help Scout — Simple and straightforward help desk ticketing system that integrates very nicely with email. It’s effectively a front end to the mailbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) that we use for centralised queries / issues etc. Free.
- Canny — really awesome tool for gathering feedback from our app users. It allows anyone to request features, add notes and upvote other user requests. Free.
- Highrise — simple CRM software we initially used for managing communication with our contacts. We’ve been using it a lot less lately as our model has become much more automated. Having or using a CRM would be more applicable to us if we had a higher touch sales model. Free
- Liveplan — a great tool for creating a slick looking and comprehensive business plan in minimal time. Also has a really cool feature for publishing a one page pitch with a link you can share for public access. It integrates nicely with Xero so that Xero is your rear looking picture of what’s happened and Liveplan is your forward looking view comparing how your tracking with your projections. At the moment we’ve got ours on hold for $4 per month as we are still working out our model. This will be very useful once we have some predictability in the business!
- UXPressia — A gem of a tool for creating customer journey maps, really got us thinking from the customer perspective and where we were falling short in meeting their needs. Free.
- Sumo — A plugin for the website that allows us to capture email addresses for newsletters etc. Signup offers can be triggered based on scrolling, exit intent, welcome mats and a bunch of other user actions. $29 per month.
- Calendly — An integration with my calendar so anybody that has my personalized link can book a slot for a phone call or make a meeting. Free.
- Crewmojo — the best app of all :) replaces the annual review. Good for managing our goals, check-ins and real-time feedback in the team. Helps keep us all focused on the important stuff that really matters. $5 per user, per month.
- Zappier — A web based integration platform that allows us to easily integrate many of the above apps together eg. A website visitor requests to join our mailing list will seamlessly go from Sumo into Campaign Monitor. $20 per month.
- Amazon Web Services — Cloud based servers and apps that we use for all our app infrastructure. Includes, domain registration, DNS hosting, content delivery network, database, API hosting etc. $450 per month.
- Google Adwords — with a young website not receiving too much organic traffic we use Google ads to send potential customers our way. We also use ads to test our messaging with never ending iterations to advert text, keywords and landing pages. We’re currently spending about $1,000 a month on ads.
Bonus one I forgot to include: Startup Patterns — an iOS app that delivers really, really good startup lessons in bite size chunks. Free
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