Best tools for startups

Sometimes, making the right purchase decision involves a great deal of contemplating and research. Be it university, school for your kids, insurance plans or even a smartphone. All of these choices can greatly impact our lives or the lives of the people around us.

But for startups, making the right choice can sometimes mean life or death, As Suhail Doshi, Founder of Mixpanel, said himself: the first 18 months of starting a company are a matter of life or death. You’re going to have to be extremely focused, agile, and as data-driven as possible. There will be a lot of background noise to filter; meetings, events, emails, feedback, etc. Thus, ignoring this white noise and sticking to the initiatives where you see actual value, is key.

So, yes, founding your own app startup and bootstrapping requires A LOT of decision making. It means you’re going to be running multiple projects and initiatives simultaneously. While this sounds like complete chaos, it doesn’t always have to be.

There are many tools out there to help you and your startup team run as fast and as efficiently as you can, but when I say many tools, I mean it. The variety is quite overwhelming and choosing the right ones can be pretty exhausting. After all, you’re an app startup- you want to at least try to have a positive ROI from your tools.

So here – we’ve saved you some research and have handpicked the ‘crème de la crème’ of tools, the ones we believe in as a startup. We hope you find this list helpful.

Do note that this list includes both professional/administrative tools to help you move forward as a company, and product-focused tools to make sure you deliver a stellar product.

Our favorites, handpicked

1. Aha!

Roadmapping is one of the most important processes your app startup will go through. Your roadmap will typically showcase what you’re going to build, and when. Sounds easy, right? Well, it could either look like a complete mess only you understand, or, it could look neat and organized. We recommend the roadmapping tool Aha! as it allows you to plan, collaborate and share your product strategy, all in one robust platform.

Pricing: Startup – Free trial and a discounted plan if you qualify (contact Aha! team)

2. G Suite

Yes, you’re probably already using G Suite, which includes Gmail, Calendar, Google Docs and Google Drive – but just in case you’re not, we think it’s time you introduce yourself to the big G. G Suite for business provides startups with even more features, such as unlimited cloud storage, the ability to track and report user activity within your company (emails, chats, files) and offers a smart search across all G Suite products and cloud services.

Having a single solution to control your company emails, document sharing, storage and calendar is not only convenient and neat, but also time saving. Put yourself in the employee’s seat. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to send emails, book calendar events, start a video call, collaborate/share docs and store files in the cloud, all from one platform? Now that Google has rolled out its new redesign for Gmail, you can actually access your to-do lists, calendar and Asana/Trello boards directly from your Gmail interface. Time-saving? Check.

Price: Basic – $5 per user, per month / Business – $10 per user, per month.

3. Appsee

Appsee is a mobile-analytics solution, built for mobile applications. It utilizes a unique approach, called Qualitative Analytics. While quantitative analytics solutions (traditional analytics) allow you to observe metrics on an aggregated level and get the bigger picture about your product’s KPIs, there are still blind spots – you’re missing the reasons behind these numbers.

This is where qualitative analytics comes in as it’s all about understanding the user’s behavior, diving deep into the individual user level via session recordings and touch heatmaps and getting to the bottom of each action users take within the app. It’s basically like being able to look over your user’s shoulder, taking your product insights to a whole new level.

It is known that for startups, every second matters and every slice of feedback you can get about your product is gold. Thus, if your app startup can eliminate the guesswork around app metrics (why ‘quit rate’ on specific screens is high, how is this bug reproduced, is the UI intuitive, etc.) it should definitely do so by utilizing Appsee’s platform.

Price: Appsee not only offers a free 14-day trial with all features included, but also offers a free plan for small startups/teams. I suggest giving it a try first via the free trial.

4. Asana

Asana is one of the most popular project-management tools out there, and there’s a good reason for that. It allows you to break down large projects into bite-sized, actionable tasks, collaborate with your team, set goals and integrate with 3rd-party apps, all extremely valuable for startups. Every company, no matter the size, has its own stream of projects. Managing them properly is crucial. Utilizing a project management tool will ensure that no double-work is done by the team, it’ll save you valuable time as you and your team can see exactly who’s doing what, for how long, and what’s the status. It’s basically a place where you can bring designers, marketers, product managers and C-level together to collaborate and observe the company’s progress.

Price: Free – up to 15 team members / Premium – $9.99 per member, per month.

5. Slack

Slack feels like an hybrid between a project-management tool and a messaging platform. And that’s why it’s so great. You can either just have a chat conversation with one of your teammates, or create a channel to communicate with a group of people. But what really makes Slack stand out is its amazingly useful integration with 3rd party software (in short – it’s called Slack Apps).

Now just imagine this – you’re having a Slack chat with one of your co-workers, and you want to share, say, an Asana board with him. You can to that directly from your message. Want to see if his calendar is available on a specific time and set up a meeting? Just summon Meekan, one of Slack’s personal assistant bots and he’ll take it from there. You can also share JIRA tickets, receive Trello / Google Drive alerts, integrate your company Twitter account, and SO much more.

Price: Free – up to 10 integrations / Standard – $6.99 per user, per month.

6. Instabug

Instabug is another mobile-only solution geared towards your product. It focuses on crash/bug reporting and user feedback. Instabug is sporting a lightweight SDK (what’s an SDK? Learn more here) that’s easy to integrate within your app. Once integrated, it’ll track all user interactions and will report live once a crash/bug has occurred. Crash/bug reports contain tons of useful information (like: number of affected users, running environment, device details, steps to reproduce, relevant code, etc.) as well as collaboration options. For me, the biggest differentiation from other crash analytics tools is that Instabug allows you to run in-app surveys, in-app chat and feature requests.

Why is crash analytics relevant for app startups? Because in today’s saturated app market, small and less-known apps simply cannot afford having issues: “53% Uninstalled or removed a mobile app with severe issues like crashes, freezes or errors”. The variety of apps is so big that users might prefer trying another app rather than giving you a second chance. In addition, crash analytics solutions will save your R&D team hours, maybe even days/weeks of guesswork and bug reproduction, and that alone – will save you some serious cash.

Price: Bronze – $41 a month / Silver – $125 a month.

7. InVision

InVision is a one-stop-shop for all things product design. It’s where you and your team can create rich interactive prototypes and design concepts, collaborate and keep track of all your design projects and changes. I particularly like InVision’s ‘whiteboard’ feature that allows you and your team to explore your best ideas and breathe life into them instantly. InVision is used by some of the biggest names in the tech world: Spotify, Airbnb, Salesforce, Netflix, and the list goes on. But that doesn’t mean there is no plan for startups or smaller teams.

Price: Free – 1 prototype / Starter – $15 a month, 3 prototypes / Pro – $25, unlimited prototypes.

Final words

There are so many factors which can make or break a startup. From the concept, to the brand name, the first hire or even the domain you’re using, all of these can make a huge difference. Once you’ve nailed these (phew!), you’re in for a hell-of-a-run. During this run, you’re going to need all the help you can get, financially and strategically. So to get you started properly, we’re giving you this list of the best tools to start your journey with. Obviously, there are a lot more tools out there, but these will set you off to a great start with streamlined workflows.