Advice from a young entrepreneur: The business tools I love – and you should too
In his latest blog, 25-year-old Synap founder James Gupta explains why these five SaaS platforms are the essential tools every start-up needs
Following his insightful column on business strategies for start-up owners, Synap founder and serial entrepreneur James Gupta is back with a new blog. This time, Gupta shares the five software as a service (SaaS) tools he swears by, and explains why no start-up should be without them…
From analytics systems to customer support packages, the Software as a Service (SaaS) model is opening new possibilities for businesses small and large.
This is especially exciting for start-ups, for whom bespoke ‘in house’ packages are often not feasible.
Here are some of my favourite business tools which I find myself using every day, in no particular order:
Segment – the godfather of analytics
Every tool on this list has had a transformative impact on my own company, but Segment has literally revolutionised it.
If you’re fed up with making tenuous changes to your website code every time you want to try out a new system, then Segment is the answer.
Segment is the last analytics platform you’ll ever need, and that’s because with their Universal Analytics code, you can switch other services like Google Analytics, Mixpanel and Amplitude on or off via their web interface: no code changes, no deploys needed.
Not only can Segment send data to analytics platforms, but it can also be used to inject other tools such as Appcues (user on-boarding flows) and Satismeter (NPS surveys) directly into your site.
In addition, you can connect data from multiple sources: such as your website, mobile app, Google/Facebook ads and Intercom, and stream them all to an SQL database, resulting in an analytics nerd’s dream: an all-in-one integrated platform.
Intercom – customer support made sexy
It goes without saying that customer support is a vital component of any company. For the vast majority of start-ups, having phone-based support just isn’t feasible, and often not desirable given how much cheaper and in many cases more convenient online ‘text-based’ support can be. Intercom is hands down my favourite support package, and I’ve tried many.
It’s not the cheapest out there, but it justifies its price tag by being incredibly easy yet flexible to set up and providing an interface and workflow that makes it easy to handle customer support at scale. With the recent addition of Educate, a ‘Knowledge Base’ module, Intercom is truly the last support package you’ll ever need.
Slack – the ultimate messaging tool
If you’re in a start-up and you haven’t heard of Slack by now then frankly I don’t know what to say. This team messaging platform, which may indeed be the fastest growing company ever according to some metrics, has become as synonymous with start-up offices as beanbags and ping pong tables.
Like Hipchat but more fun, Slack is essentially an instant messaging platform for teams, which on the face of it doesn’t sound all that game-changing, but it does that job so damn well. Not only is it easy and fun to use, it’s incredibly customisable with bots and integrations to every web-based service you need. As a remote team, Slack is far more than just a messaging tool for us, it’s the central hub for discussions, sharing files, conferencing and handling notifications.
And whilst they do have ‘Enterprise’ features for very large companies or those with specific data audit needs, for the vast majority of use cases it’s completely free!
AHRefs – SEO you can actually understand
There’s absolutely no shortage of SEO tools out there, but since discovering AHRefs I’ve never looked back. AHRefs gives you all the information you’d expect from an SEO package – backlinks, search rankings, social shares – and presents it in a way that’s actually digestible and actionable, which is something I feel a lot of its competitors fall down on.
There are certainly tools out there that give you more information than AHRefs, and these may be of interest to agencies or companies with a dedicated SEO team, but for a start-up they can often overwhelm you with too much information. With a very reasonable pricing structure and one of the most accurate SEO algorithms on the market, it’s well worth a try.
Buffer – social media management done right
Buffer is social media management done right. At a certain point in running a company, you need to start organising your social media operations in a more scalable manner. That means scheduling posts, deeper analytics and cross-posting.
Buffer is easy to set up and integrate into any workflow, incredibly intuitive and – like Slack – incredibly flexible, having its own ‘App Store’ of plugins and third party services you can integrate with.
Twitter: @gupta_james Web: synap.ac