SaaS Tools for Startups

Author: Kristina Proffitt

13th December 2019

As a SaaS company, it should come as no surprise that we use a range of SaaS tools to help us achieve our goals.

From sales to marketing to software development, we all rely on tools to make our lives easier.

Finding the right tool is a process of trial and error – we’ve experimented with many over the years. Some of those we found less effective as teams scaled while others we still use now. But we wouldn’t have found tools that we love and use daily without this process.

In this post we talk to CEO Adam Bird, Marketing Manager Jeremy Bourhis, Account Executive Tomas Kuzmickas, Support Manager Karl Bagci, and Senior Developer Tom Hazledine on what tools they use and love.

What SaaS tools do you use on a regular basis? What makes them so invaluable to you?

Adam: With the current setup at Cronofy, Hubspot, Slack, Notion, and Zoom are probably the SaaS tools I use the most. Information, communication and collaboration are the foundation upon which a semi distributed company like ours is built.

Notion is a relatively new addition to that list and has allowed us to consolidate several other tools. Tools like Trello, Word, and Excel have either gone completely or seen their use dramatically drop. We’ve even pulled back from using a dedicated ATS as it gives us everything we need to run a hiring flow at the scale we’re at, including dedicated job sites.

Jeremy: Like many marketers I use Hubspot everyday. Several times a day in fact. Hubspot is where we keep all the information about our clients and prospects. It’s easy to fall into an “Hubspot hole” sometimes with all the valuable information presented on contact timelines.

Hubspot is embedded into everything that I do. It is integrated with our social media and paid marketing channels. We send marketing and sales emails from Hubspot and build all the automation workflows we need to save time and be more efficient. Having all these tools consolidated into one is something very important in a startup where resources and time count more than in any other type of business!

Another tool that I find incredibly useful when working on our website is CrazyEgg. It’s a clever heatmap solution that allows us to see how our visitors use our website. Where they click and even where they stop scrolling. There is a wealth of filtering options too. We don’t always have the necessary traffic to run A/B tests on each page of our website so being able to look at these snapshots enables us to still make data-based decisions.

Tomas: LinkedIn – finding relevant contacts within prospect organizations.

Crunchbase – finding startups that have recently received funding or have lots of mindshare. They also display key information on businesses such as yearly revenue, total amount of money raised / funding status (e.g. if it’s IPO’d and where), broadly accurate monthly visitors and 3 key competitors.

Hubspot is key for tracking deals and the functionality of tracking email opens is very useful.

Notion is great for organizing internal articles and collaborating on cross-team projects.

Karl: Being able to communicate with our customer base is absolutely key. Tools which enable us do that are invaluable to the Operations team here at Cronofy. Namely, Zendesk and StatusPage.

Zendesk is critical in our day-to-day communication with customers, allowing us to solve customer queries quickly and efficiently.

StatusPage is brilliant in its simplicity and power. We don’t have to use StatusPage frequently (thankfully), but when we do need to use it, it’s usually when something is not working as expected and the pressure is on. StatusPage allows us to quickly maintain transparency with our customer base and get the right information to the people who want it.

Tom: My most frequently used SaaS tools are pretty utilitarian, but I’d be lost without them. 1Password enforces password discipline, and more importantly keeps passwords out of my head (where I’d forget them or – even worse – reuse them 😱). If a file isn’t suitable for versioning with GIT, it goes into Dropbox, meaning I can access all the things all the time in all the places. My inner-geek also loves a good spreadsheet, so Google Sheets is never too far from my fingers. Need an algorithm for creating an optimal wedding table plan? I’ve got you covered 😉

What’s your favorite tool and why?

Adam: Notion is probably my favourite but I’ve already talked about that so I’m going to call out Zendesk here.

We’ve recently moved back to Zendesk for ticketing after a support tool journey that took us from there to Intercom (interesting but didn’t really match our workflow), Hubspot (their service offering is just dreadful) and back to Zendesk.

Returning after a couple of years and not a lot has changed on the face of it. Which is is a really good thing. They have nailed what you need to run a support desk and not lost that as they’ve grown. 👏to them.

Jeremy: I’ve found that I often need to build flowcharts either as part of the marketing planning process or even to use in client calls. A tool I have been using – and loving – in order to do this is Whimsical. Whimsical is ideal to create flowcharts, mind maps and even wireframes. It is extremely easy to use thanks to a very straightforward drag-and-drop system. Styling is really easy too which means it’s easier to focus on the idea behind the chart instead of trying to find the right color or icon.

Tomas: I’d say LinkedIn, as it grants me the ability to find key decision makers for progressing deals and is one of my two channels for outbound activity (the other being emails). The Sales Navigator tool also tracks new executive hires within a company, such as new CTOs, CPOs etc, joining the business.

Karl: Right now it’s Notion. Everything about this platform (and the company) excites me. Right now – Notion makes it easy for me manage content I want to share with my team. I can format it in a way which makes it attractive and easy to read. There are some really smart features too – like smart page linking, embedding of pages and an array of keyboard shortcuts. It generally just makes my life easier. Even better than that though is the fact that new features are constantly being added and there is a healthy pipeline of features heading our way, too!
Another thing I like about Notion is that they seem to have a great working culture, which aligns really nicely with ours here at Cronofy, too.

Tom: While I spend most of my time in a code editor, I’m always excited every time I get to open any design software. While Figma is great for collaborating with other designers and Adobe XD has been making great strides lately, my favourite design tool is still Sketch. The prototyping features are so intuitive, and the app makes sharing work with non-designer colleagues an absolute breeze.

What tools don’t we use that you’d like to adopt or would recommend to people?

Adam: I’ve started using QuarterOne as a sales reporting tool. I like a lot about Hubspot as a CRM but the reporting is really lacking. Especially if you want to compare points in time. For example, what has changed in the sales pipeline between two dates and this needs investigation. i also like the pipeline close visualisation which can be grouped by many factors.

It’s a new product and I know the team have big plans for it but it does seem to plug a big gap in Hubspot’s reporting.

Jeremy: Landing pages are key to driving conversions. They also need to be consistently experimented and optimized. This can be challenging without a dedicated in-house team of designers and web developers. At Cronofy we are lucky to have the technical resources we need to update our landing pages but if we didn’t we would use Unbounce to easily create, edit, and test new landing pages.

Tomas: SimilarWeb for sales sounds very compelling in terms of sourcing new leads based on web analytics across 80M sites.

Karl: Outside of work I’ve recently taken up drawing on my iPad Pro. I’ve been using a tool called Procreate. I might be late to the party here – but this tool is great! The first thing it did for me, was smooth the lines in my drawings, making them look a bit more polished (I need all of the help I can get). Procreate lets me import files into it – while still feeling like drawing using a pen and paper. Also, there are a bunch of hand gestures you can use for shortcuts which just make things that much more slick. It’s a super neat app.

Tom: Due to the nature of the work we do, we don’t have to worry too much about backing up our computers at Cronofy. All our code lives in cloud-based GIT repositories, and important work documents are stored in Dropbox or Notion. Outside of work, however, a remote backup is one of the first things I install on any computer I use. I treat my archive of mp3s in the same way I treat my vinyl collection, and I’d be devastated if I lost any of it. For my own peace of mind, I use Backblaze to backup all my personal computers.

Conclusion

Have we mentioned that we love Notion? It’s our most widely used – and clearly most loved – tool of them all. It allows us to collaborate remotely and cross-team.

Hubspot is a great all-rounder too, streamlining things for teams in almost every department. Much like Notion, it helps to connect activities done by different teams so that, for example, marketing can send an email campaign on behalf of sales and everyone can track the results.

As a remote team, collaborative tools are key to a successful working environment. The easier it is for teams to work together, the more likely they will be to do so.

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Kristina Proffitt

Date: 13th December 2019 | Category: Business