9 great tools to run your startup in the cloud

Running kooaba now for a couple of years a few tools turned out to be handy. Let’s just assume you start a tech company with at total of six coworkers (3 engineering, 2 business development / marketing , 1 management). Here’s a setup that might work, for your convenience and your business plan including approximate cost.

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Google apps

Get the power of gmail and Google Calendar for your business. What I like in particular: gmail with IMAP (accessed via Apple mail). Also, Google documents, to collaborate on documents and creating surveys. (Most used at kooaba: spreadsheets). The standard edition should be fine in the beginning.

Cost: Standard edition: FREE. / Premier: 6 x 50 = 300 USD/year.


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Basecamp

The breakthrough tool for project management brought to you by 37signals. We use this for general project management, sharing docs, messages, etc. for all team members independent of role (sales or engineering). The Basic plan should be fine.

Cost (Basic Plan): 12 x 24 = 288 USD / year.


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Skype or Yammer

We use Skype chat within the team throughout the day. Faster than email, but less obtrusive than talking to somebody or phonecall. (Why this is important? Ask Joel (Human Task Switches Considered Harmful) , or read Getting Real). Plus, obviously you can call clients, partners etc.

Cost: FREE.


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Salesforce or Highrise

Salesforce is the tool of choice to manage your sales and customer contacts. What I like in particular is the web-form integration, which lets you create leads directly from contact forms on your web-site. You can really just use the Group edition, and this should be fine fort he beginning. Alternatively use Highrise from 37 signals. Is simpler and nicer in the UI, but it has less (no) features when it comes to tracking revenue etc.

Cost: 3x17x12 = 612 USD / year. (https://www.salesforce.com/smallbusinesscenter/editions/)


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Trac + agilo

For software development, trac has been a popular tool for quite a while. Subversion integration, integrated WiKi make it irreplaceable for us. Since we switched to Scrum, we were also looking for a tool which supports Scrum and integrates with trac: we found it with agilo. There is a free and a pro edition.

Cost: Free / 4 x 10 x12 = 480 USD/year.


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Amazon web services

Amazon web services are really the coolest thing since sliced bread. Just outsource all your computation needs. Now, how much you need obviously depends on what kind of business you are in. Let’s assume you run some kind of web service, The first year you may need some 2 web server instances, one database, and some 500GB of storage. (I wrote another post on how you run an image search engine like kooaba on amazon web services).

Cost:
2 reserved small instances: approx. USD 2000 / year

1 RDS database server (large instance) : about 2000 USD /year

500 GB S3 storage with some in/out : approx. 1000 / USD year

Total: about 5000 USD a year.


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Google Analytics / web-site optimizer

Everybody knows what good (Web-) design is. So everybody wants to add his/her 2-cents. Let the numbers speak instead. Using A-B testing you can try several variations of your website, and measure what works best. Google web-site optimizer is a tool which helps you to do just that.

Cost: Free


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Mailchimp

E-mail marketing campaigns and newsletters made easy. The coolest feature is in my opinion RSS integration, so you can publish your blog-posts to an e-mail newsletter, too. How we use it at kooaba: we have a dedicated category “Newsletter” on our blog, which has also its own RSS feed. This is attached to mailchimp. Whenever you post some stuff on your blog, you can decide whether to send it to put it on the newsletter or not simply by adding the post it to the Newsletter category or not. Settings at mailchimp allow to send the collected new blog-posts only once a week or month for instance.

Cost: There is a free plan which should be ok in the beginning.


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WordPress

Talking about blogging: WordPress is an awesome and easy-to-use tool to publish your blog-posts. Even better, with its “Pages” feature you can use it as a Content Management System for your complete web-site. And it’s free, too!


All in all you end up with about 6600 USD a year (5000 computation and 1600 for „tools“).

So, start signing up.


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