As a founder, you may know exactly what tech stack you need to build your product – but what about when it comes to the tools you need to run your business?
Many founders fall into the trap of prioritizing the former without giving much thought to the latter. But these days, there are so many innovative and impactful tools that can massively streamline your workflows and help to set you up for success as you scale.
This is especially important for small teams, where you need to operate at a scale far beyond your headcount (without burning out your team by working around the clock). The right tech stack can help you to 10x your headcount by removing time-consuming tasks and admin, improving efficiency, and empowering your team to focus on areas where they can have the most impact.
By building a strong business tech stack for your startup – covering everything from incorporation to growing long-lasting customer relationships – you can not only win back time and establish best practices, but create a solid foundation for your business to grow.
Ready to take your startup to the next level? Here are our best practices for choosing the right tools for your startup, as well as our top picks for every stage of your journey.
Best practices for choosing the right tools for your startup tech stack
With more and more tools out there catering to startups, how do you know which ones are really necessary for your business? And more importantly – which ones are really going to deliver a return on investment for your precious (and limited) budget?
Here are three best practices for building your startup tech stack.
Look for tools that can scale with you
When you’re selecting tools for your startup tech stack, you don’t need all the bells and whistles of enterprise software – in fact, tools built for more mature companies will likely have more complexity (and thus more costs) than you really need at this early stage. So it’s important to look for tools that have the unique needs and challenges of a startup in mind.
“When you choose tools with opportunities to scale in mind, you’re ensuring you’re leaving enough room for your business to grow and evolve”
That said, you won’t be a startup forever. While you need tools that can serve your needs right now, you should also think about how they can work for you in the future. What you don’t want is to build your business – and perfect your workflows – on tools that need to be ripped and replaced at the first sign of growth. On the other hand, when you choose tools with opportunities to scale in mind, you’re ensuring you’re leaving enough room for your business to grow and evolve, without needing to create entirely new ways of working.
Questions to ask
- Can we add more features as our needs change?
- Can we easily onboard new employees or teams as our numbers grow?
- Does it have flexible pricing?
Ensure the tools you use integrate together
Time is of the essence for any business, but when you’re a small team with big goals, you need to be even more ruthless about how and where you spend it. That’s why interoperability is key. Before you add a new tool to your tech stack, check to see how it integrates with the core tools you already have and use everyday.
With the right integrations, you can automate workflows, share data between tools to keep things up to date, and create clearer, more efficient processes. The benefits? Reduced admin, no more cycling through tools to find crucial information, and less time spent context-switching – all of which means more time regained for impactful work and deep focus.
Questions to ask
- Can it integrate with the tools we use every day?
- Do these integrations come out-of-the-box or do they need to be built and maintained by our team?
- Does it have a custom API?
Tools should complement your people and processes, not replace them
The right tools can be total game-changers for your startup. But for any tool to be effective, you still need the right people and processes in place.
Before you add a new tool to your startup tech stack, it’s worth asking what the underlying problem you’re trying to solve is. No matter how great a new tool may seem, it can’t replace strategy or processes, so make sure those are clearly defined first.
“Your first few hires are so influential in the success of your company. Make sure your tech stack helps them, rather than hinders them”
And when you do add a new tool to your tech stack, remember that its job is to complement your people and processes. So it’s worth checking in with key users after implementation: is this tool empowering you to get more done and be more efficient? Or are you actually losing time trying to manage tools that are creating more problems than they solve? If there’s an issue, is it a tool problem (i.e. one that can be solved with more training or resources) or a process problem (i.e. one that needs more strategic involvement)?
As Des Traynor, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Intercom, says, your first few hires are so influential in the success of your company. Make sure your tech stack helps them, rather than hinders them.
Questions to ask
- What is the problem we’re trying to solve with this tool, and how will we measure success?
- How will this tool fit into our daily/weekly/monthly workflows?
- How much training will this tool require for onboarding and maintenance?
- How does the team feel about using this tool?
9 tools for every stage of your startup journey
Now that you have these best practices in mind, it’s time to think about which tools are right for your startup. Here are some of our top picks to help you navigate key moments and challenges as you grow your business.
1. Stripe Atlas – Incorporation
Ready to take that first big step? When it’s time to incorporate, Stripe Atlas lets you start your company from anywhere in the world with just a few clicks. By removing the paperwork, legalese, and hidden fees associated with launching a startup, Stripe Atlas gives founders more time to focus on building their business – and ensures the right legal and financial foundations are in place to help you scale.
2. Mercury – Banking
Mercury is a financial technology company that provides banking* made with startups in mind. As well as the usual banking benefits – FDIC-insured checkings and savings accounts, easy international payments, and more – it enables you to to earn yield on your idle cash and access venture debt that can extend your runway. Mercury’s product also includes integrations, rules, and shortcuts that were engineered to help founders spend as little time as possible thinking about banking.
*Mercury is a financial technology company, not a bank. All banking services provided by Choice Financial Group and Evolve Bank & Trust®; Members FDIC.
“The remote work revolution is here to stay, so if you want to ensure you’re growing your team with the right talent, you need to think globally”
3. Brex – Corporate cards
Brex makes it simple for founders and startups to manage spending and ensure compliance. Brex offers high-limit corporate cards, an FDIC-insured account for deposits and payments, 24/7 support, and rewards all in one place, so it’s easier for your team to spend cleverly – without breaking the budget. Using Brex also saves time for your finance team (or, depending on headcount, your finance person 👀) by including easy expense tracking, automatic receipt matching, and accounting integrations to reduce the time spent on reconciliation. They also offer financial modeling tools to help you get deeper insights into spending that allow leaders to make smarter financial decisions.
4. Deel – Payroll
The remote work revolution is here to stay, so if you want to ensure you’re growing your team with the right talent, you need to think globally. For small startups, hiring internationally can be intimidating. There are global compliance and payroll hurdles that make things super complex. Deel removes this complexity, making hiring, paying, and managing employees and contractors easier and faster, regardless of location. By taking care of local laws and compliance, Deel can reduce time spent drafting custom contracts and running payroll, allowing you to focus on building a world-class team.
“Having a clear, collaborative, up-to-date hub for all of your crucial information is an easy way to keep everyone informed and on the same page, ensuring you’re all working in the same direction”
5. AWS – Cloud computing
Many of the biggest and best companies in the world use AWS – and many of them were once startups using AWS, too. The cloud computing platform offers hundreds of resources to help you scale your business, from building API to going serverless to monitoring performance. For startups in particular, AWS Activate provides architecture guidance and expert support to help you accelerate your growth.
6. Notion – Team productivity
Whether you’re a team of three or a team of 3,000, it’s important to have a single source of truth for key documents. Notion is a great way to keep everyone in your business aligned, and can house everything from your company’s big-picture vision, to important engineering and process documents, to meeting notes, to roadmaps. Having a clear, collaborative, up-to-date hub for all of your crucial information is an easy way to keep everyone informed and on the same page, ensuring you’re all working in the same direction (and not getting waylaid trying to chase up essential documents lost in emails or spreadsheets).
7. Segment – Customer data platform
If you want to take your startup from idea to IPO, you need the right analytics. Collecting and analyzing customer data is crucial to understanding your customers, perfecting your product-market fit, and enabling you to test and iterate on your successes. Segment helps you collect, clean, and act on your customer data and scale it, empowering you to build fast with a reliable, performant, and compliant stack. What’s more, it offers easy integrations and a single API, so it’s even easier to set up and maintain – meaning your team can focus on interpreting the data rather than chasing it down.
“From first visit to ongoing support, Intercom helps startups like yours communicate with prospects and customers across every stage of the customer journey”
8. HubSpot – CRM
HubSpot is a unified platform that lets you manage the customer relationship throughout the sales and marketing funnel and beyond. For startups, it offers three simple, connected hubs: a Sales Hub, to help you track leads, automate outreach, and have visibility over your pipeline; a Marketing Hub, that lets your marketing team own the funnel from first impression to reporting; and a Service Hub that lets you resolve customer issues. Because these are powered by a unified CRM, it gives you a single source of truth, meaning that your sales and marketing teams can work together more efficiently and productively from the get-go to attract and delight more customers.
9. Intercom – Customer engagement
From your first customer to your thousandth, how do you ensure that you’re always delivering exceptional customer experiences and growing long-lasting customer relationships? We built Intercom to help you do just that. Our mission is to make internet business personal, using a customer communications platform that allows you to make the most of every customer interaction with personalized, in-context messaging. From first visit to ongoing support, we help startups like yours communicate with prospects and customers across every stage of the customer journey – without needing to add heaps of headcount to stay personal at scale.
Create your startup tech stack today
Ready to dive in and start using these tools to supercharge your startup?
Join Intercom’s early-stage startup program to avail of Intercom at a 95% discount and access our startup Dealbook.
The Dealbook includes over $100k worth of exclusive deals from startup partners, including AWS, Notion, Hubspot, Stripe, Mercury, Segment, Brex, and more.