🏢 Companies
Essential Tools

Updated at 2023-12-09 17:27

This note contains the essential tools and services for companies and startups. I keep this updated with the best options in my opinion, not all the alternatives.

G Suite for Business: Package with email, calendar, chat and file sharing, both on desktop and mobile. Better collaborative document editing and more stable web services. Also allows assigning emails to groups so anyone interested can join the mailing list, a lot better than shared inboxes e.g. you can have where all service logins go. $5 per user per month. I wouldn't even consider any of the other offerings like Office 365 or alternative email suppliers.

Google Analytics: The standard analytic tool you should always have installed.

Buffer: Social media management platform for e.g. timed social media updates. A tool like Buffer is a must-have if you plan to have any social media presence. Starts free and the first tier is $15 per month.

MailChimp: Email marketing platform for sending newsletters with good analytics. 2000 subscribers are free if you send less than 12k emails per month. After that, it becomes from $10 for the first 500 subscribers to $25 for 2000 subscribers. Just to be clear, this is for marketing emails, not for the emails you send through your web app e.g. notifications.

Intercom: Intercom is a customer messaging platform for a minimum of $50 per month. Allows visitors to send you messages like questions and allows you to send messages to convert visitors to buyers. You will need something like this further down the line, but you can start without it.

WP Engine: Every company needs a blog for SEO. Don't spend your scarce developer resources to setting up and maintaining a WordPress website, rent one for $35 per month. You can move it to your own servers if you feel like it becomes too expensive. Also buy a WordPress theme and brand it to your company, don't develop it yourself.

I won't recommend any CRM, they are all bad anyway, and the sales people want to use what they've used in the previous company.

Development Related Tools

Not invented here (NIH) is a stance adopted by social, corporate, or institutional cultures that avoid using or buying already existing products, research, standards, or knowledge because of their external origins and costs, such as royalties.

When building a product MVP with a small team, rely on managed services and experience. You should be focusing on the idea, development, business and marketing.

The list of tools I recommend:

  • GitHub is a software development platform for $7 per month. This is where you will store your code.
  • GitHub Project Boards is the best development ticket management system as it integrates with your normal workflow on GitHub, assuming you use GitHub; included in the GitHub fee. I would also use these boards over Trello.
  • GitHub Actions is a continuous delivery platform for free to begin with. It allows your development flow to run unit tests, so you don't break your production deployment.
  • Heroku is an application platform for $7+ per month. This is where you will run your web application; I used to encourage to always start with Heroku, so you can offload DevOps and focus only on the product. You used to get staging environments for free. As of 2023 though, the future is not looking too bright for Heroku so might consider an alternative like Render
  • Amazon Web Services is a cloud service provider. You most likely will need Route 53 to register a domain and DNS service. Route 53 is not the cheapest place to get a domain, but I like to keep everything under here; .com domains cost just like $12 per year anyway. Other services you will need quite early on are CloudFront and S3.
  • SendGrid is an email API that when you need to send emails from your web application, password resets, and such. SendGrid has proper countermeasures to keep emails from going to spam folders. 3K emails per month are free, and 40K emails cost $10 per month. AWS SES is a lot cheaper for sending huge numbers of emails, but gets in spam filters too often. Mandrill and PostMark are also OK although unnecessarily expensive, but pricing changes from year to year.
  • Codecov is a code coverage service that integrates with CircleCI. Not required to begin with but good to add when you start to have more code.
  • Sentry is an error tracking service for $26 per month. Essential to get notified about production errors. New Relic is too expensive compared to Sentry.
  • Memberful is paid membership management for 2% transaction fee + $25 per month. Get a basic subscription service running without coding anything. Integrates with MailChimp making marketing even simpler.
  • Stripe is a payment processing system; required when you need to handle the payments yourself and can't just rely on Memberful.
  • Gengo is a fast translation service for $0.06 per word. They have ok API, so you can make translations even automatic.

Most of these services have a free tier that you can use to get started. I'd say the bare minimum is to use GitHub + Heroku + AWS for around $25 per month.

But what to use to build the website? Totally depends on what you are building and what your developers have used before.

If you need economical dedicated servers: