"I think you can have a ridiculously enormous and complex data set, but if you have the right tools and methodology then it's not a problem."
- Aaron Koblin
As Startups, we move fast. We likely pick software tools based on what tops Review lists. But are they really the right SaaS tools that other Founders use?
I surveyed 139 entrepreneurs in various stages of their business.
Summarised the data so you get the best Startup Tool for email marketing, project management, CRM, Company Wiki, plus in 5 more categories.
Read on to make your SaaS tool selection easier and give you a few more vetted options to consider.
Now, onto the results!
People’s Choice: Gmail
JZ’s Choice: Gmail
No surprise here. Gmail user at a whopping 71.2% of Founders. It takes next to no time to set up. GSuite comes with 30GB of file storage, bundled with Google Docs, Sheets, Forms etc, along with advanced user admin.
GSuite has a market place which turns Gmail and GSuite into:
And it's all here for under US$8 / month / user.
We’ve used it for every single one of our businesses.
People’s Choice: MailChimp
JZ’s Choice: MailerLite
We literally had 41 different Email Marketing software suggested 🤯(what a tough market!).
MailChimp seems to be the de-facto choice here, with most people citing their familiarity with it from previous experiences (33%). Plus it’s Free (as in 🍺), has lots of Integrations and has a solid reputation.
A number of respondents cited they used a mix of MailChimp and other tools. And as their needs got more advanced, they shifted to the likes of Intercom (for Live Chat and Inbox integration), or HubSpot (for the CRM and bunch of other features).
While no one mentioned email functionality, we use ours for customer segmentation, list management, and light weight CRM (more on that later)...
We seem to be on the same journey. As email marketing newbies, we came across MailChimp since it often topped Review sites. We used it with a couple of product launches. Eventually graduating to Drip (awesome Automation, straight-forward UX), till it got too expensive for us.
🤞it evolves with our needs.
“Use it[SendGrid] for SMTP out going transactional emails so we pay for custom IP and use rest for free”
“[Mailchimp was] Cheap, pretty, did everything I needed out of the box, easily integrates with my other systems”
“Mailchimp initially as cost and ease. Moving across most to hubspot for more tracking data to segment nurture lists and helps sales “
“Recommended and just starting [to use Convert Kit], so didn't know better. Soon switching to Platformly or Moosend.
People’s Choice: Slack
JZ’s Choice: Slack
Oh, Slack. How you’ve won our hearts by becoming our Communication backbone. Allowing (most of) us to ditch email,
Your easy on-boarding, emojis, gifs, and many Integration has made us 102% more productive and have at least 78% more fun at work.
While you are great, it’s tough staying focused with irrelevant channel messages (or the sheer volume of them after a holiday - Threaded model anyone?)
But we love your Free plan, and nothing seems to come close
- JZ (a Fan)
Looks like we’re not the only team living in Slack. This is why 48% of our Founders use it. And here’s why?
This proves conclusively:
“Network effect is key in workplace messaging apps”
“[Skype] It's a hub for everything (3rd party integrations make is super useful and sticky)”
“[RingCentral is] Like Slack but has integrated voip and video conferencing all in one, it rocks”
“New startup growing rapidly. Personal communication with founders is possible. And [Chanty] it's simple, lightweight and highly focused on what we need.”
“[WeChat] works great in China”
“All the integrations. Jira, bitbucket and a bunch of webhooks provide a lot of updates along with the human messages. So one app [Slack] to see what's going on across the business.”
People’s choice: Trello
People’s choice: Trello
JZ’s Choice: Trello
It seems like a new task management tool comes out every other week.
But Trello (29.5%), the One Board to rule them all, takes it out.
Just look at the fragmentation of the market here.
We had 50. 🤯
Yes, 50 different Task or Project Management product choices nominated by our Founders.
Some of those tools clearly have uses beyond task management, which illustrates the blurring lines of project management space and opportunities for vertical integration. Some examples:
Why was Trello the top choice?
Most common reason cited, for personal use:
For team use:
For Asana, the runner up for both personal and team task management tool. Most commonly cited reason was previous exposure and one task tool for the whole team.
While Todoist has Team features. Their Business plan is less than 3 years old. And it’s hard to convince the whole team across to a new tool.
For us, we loved Asana’s keyboard controls, they were also a big influence in us making Inviited a dream for Keyboard Ninjas.
However, we found Asana’s long task lists difficult when used in a team. We also couldn't easily switch between their List & Board (very sub-par compared to Trello) views.
Trello's awesome keyboard shortcuts, overall simplicity and zero learning curve won us over, and we've been using it for years.
“There are so many [tools]. I had to pick one. I chose Todoist years ago and I haven't looked elsewhere because it does what I want.”
[JIRA has] Quality, agile features, solid integration with other apps, management of users in one place, integration with bitbucket, automation triggers/workflows
“We really like it [Clubhouse]. Perfect for software dev teams. Was recommended to us.”
“We use it [Asana] for the wider team and it makes sense to keep todos in one place.”
“Basecamp's been the go to for a few remote teams I've joined”
“Easy to use, thought about github, but having a Trello app for adding on the fly is important”
“Very powerful at this stage and [Infinity] it is in fast developement. We bought LTD [Life Time Deal], so probably we will not have to pay in the future.”
“[Notion is] Best. Most flexible. Free to me! Even in Team Plan.”
People’s Choice: Hubspot, or Email List Tool doubles as CRM
JZ’s Choice: Our Email marketing tool (MailerLite)
25% of respondents didn’t have a CRM tool, and used their email list management tool instead - just like us.
The reason is simple:
"Early stage Startups are not ready for a dedicated CRM"
We are small, agile and moves fast. Unless dedicated tooling solved a pain-point, it adds unnecessary complexity & administrative overhead. So most of us stuck with our Mailing List tool which has enough for us to do simple segmentation.
If your Startup is ready for a CRM. Hubspot (23%) was the top choice for our list of Founders. Largely because it was free (according to 69% of Founders using Hubspot)
SalesForce (7.2%) was the next choice. Most because the team had used it before, or already came with the tech stack (40%)
“[Contactually is] Super easy to use, hard bulk mail function, reminds me to contact people I haven’t spoken to in a while “
“It's working. I know I need a real CRM, but I only have a few clients.” - no CRM
“Hubspot because it was free in the beginning. Likely moving to Platformly.”
“[Hubspot, because] functionality, price, startup program”
[ZohoCRM is] Easy to use, has a good list of features in their free plan
People’s choice: Wordpress, or custom coded site
JZ’s choice: WebFlow
While no-code tools have matured leaps & bounds in the last 5 years. Nothing beats custom code’s ability to: do-it-exactly-as-I-envisioned-it.
It helps that 43% of the Founders who custom built their website self identify as Developers. And 30% did it for reasons of customisation.
Wordpress leads the pack for no-code tools (it’s doesn’t strictly meet the definition of a no-code tool since heavy customisation can be done with PHP). No surprise as WordPress powers 29% of the world’s internet traffic, and likely the most popular blogging platform under the ☀️.
For Founders used WordPress it to build their website (22.1%), most of them did it because of familiarity with the platform (50%).
I built iamjz & the blog you’re reading it on Webflow (like 11.6% of our respondents) because it was heavily customizable (think: frontend for CSS), can fine-tune mobile responsiveness, and we didn’t mind the learning curve.
Really, the Landing Page Tool came down to a personal choice. Depending on your needs and previous experiences. SquareSpace, Wix, Carrd, WebFlow, LeadPages, Brizy (for Wordpress), Hubspot are all viable choices, along with 100s of others.
“Significantly expanded functionality, SEO capability and site speed recently. Ease of use is [Wix’s] key differentiator.”
"[Wordpress, because] familiarity at the time as a non-tech, Now I'd probably start with Carrd if I was needing a landing page."
“Quick, simple, does exactly what we want it to and no more, source code in git” - Custom Code option
“My partners hated every other landing page platform out there.” - Custom code option
[Unbounce is] easy quick and cheap to start on , move to hubspot because it gives us more data for segmenting and targeting lists
People’s choice: Email, or Intercom
JZ’s choice: Email
Email, a relic from the infancy of the Web is used by 30% of our respondents for customer support. We use it too.
Email is ubiquitous as it's attached to our web domains. Everyone’s familiar with it. And let’s be honest. Real-time customer support like live chat requires dedicated time & resources that Startups may not have.
40% of Intercom users cited Integration as being the number #1 reason they used Intercom.
It was also interesting to see 16% of respondents don’t do customer support. Are these companies too early to do support - at least I can’t think of an industry where where customer support isn’t needed.
Super interesting, we may dig into this in the future.
“Email is best option at this stage - use it with hubspot and live chat”
“[Crisp.Chat has] cool features, and an aggressive Startup rate that you can apply for. I liked the idea of Intercom, but saw too many complaints about pricing after year 1.
“Haven't sought out software for support yet”
“Pricing is a concern here with Intercom & ZenDesk. Freshdesk, Tawk.to & Crisp are current considerations.” - not using Custome Support software atm
"[Intercom] It's pretty from an end user perspective, and great software when you use it for everything."
"[Intercom] It connects with everything else (support, sales, email marketing, help center)."
"[HelpScout] Has a KB and good support for email comms."
People’s Choice: GSuite
GMail, the most popular email for the same reason that GSuite dominates here: You can’t beat the price.
52% of Founders collaborate using GSuite cited cost as the reason (the word “Free” 🍻 was thrown around a lot!)
It’s great to see Notion (a company less than 3 years old) being used by 12.2% of our respondents. For those who use it, 62% absolutely raved about its flexibility and ability to do so much.
“Because I have tried many, nothing comes close, and Notion is the bomb!”
- a Founder
“We also use gsuite. Notion forces a clearer structure.”
- another Notion loving Founder
I found it interesting no one used Quip: A collaboration product made by ex-GSuite Googlers. Acquired by SalesForce in 2016 for $750m.
For 3 years it was the backbone of our internal company wiki: document chat, product & finance documentation, marketing schedule, and even agile ceremonies (we documented product planning, retros out of it too).
We recently switched to GSuite. While It doesn’t have the everything-is-in-one-place feel of Quip. Like you, we loved that it came with our Business Gmail - and it’s hard to beat Free 🍻!
“Google Drive is nicely integrated with the rest of the [GSuite] tools”
“We were all using it [GSuite] individually before we started so we just continued to use it.”
"Because of [Confluence’s] integrations with Jira & Bitbucket + it's Aussie"
“We also use gsuite. Notion forces a clearer structure.”
“[Notion because] User experience and speed you can produce content”
People’s Choice: Zoom
JZ’s Choice: Zoom
Zoom (41%) topped our choice for video conferencing software. Its growth has been absolutely phenomenal:
Don't forget installing Zoom required us to ignore the default options that came with Slack (#1 for team communications) or Google Hangout (GSuite is #1 for Company Wiki). Which is a testament to its product superiority.
The major issue with group virtual meetings is connectivity. Our team has personally experienced dropouts, voice & video lag with Skype and Google Hangouts as soon as we had 4 or more people on the call. Conversely, I've been in Zoom meetings with 20 people and no connectivity issues.
This is supported by the survey data: 67% of Founders cited Connectivity as the #1 reason they use Zoom. 21% cited the product’s simplicity.
“[Zoom’s] lightweight Web client could figure out almost instantly what kind of device you were using, meaning Zoom didn’t need different versions for Mac or PC. It also provided a software layer that shielded any bugs that might be introduced when a browser like Chrome, Firefox or Safari pushed an update. Zoom could operate even at 40% data loss, so it would still work on a spotty or slow internet connection. And at $9.99 per host per month ($14.99 today), it undercut its rivals. Zoom customer service chief Jim Mercer was then working at competitor GoToMeeting when a colleague opened a Zoom account to see what the hype was about. “One click, we were in, and there were 25 feeds of participants at the same time,” he says. “We were like, ‘What is this voodoo? How are they doing it?’ ”
- Forbes article
“We're already paying for Slack so…”
“[Skype is] Good for all round use with internal/external individuals”
“[Google Hangout] Invitation is done on Google so it make sense to have everything in 1 place”
“Because it [Appear.in] works. Unlike most others I have tried”
There you have it. The best Startup Tools for your business.
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