22 essential SaaS tools to bootstrap your internet startup



When you start up a SaaS company without any outside investment, you learn that it hurts to spend your own money. You also learn to be super frugal with it and to make smart choices when it comes to the tools and services you use.

Over the 7 years of growing Trackur, I’ve found 22 tools that I use to make things run smoothly. Some are free, many are super cheap, and those that do have a higher price tag end up saving a lot of personnel time.

I’ve decided that this might be a list that startups might find of interest, so I’m sharing it below. None of the companies listed asked to be on the list and I get no kickbacks from any of the links.



1. WordPress – website

This shouldn’t need much explanation. I first started using WordPress back in 2006 and I now pretty much use it exclusively for all customer-facing websites that I build. With affordable themes, free plugins, and a ton of developer support, I’d be crazy to use anything else.



2. Tumblr – blog

OK, so here’s an exception to my WordPress rule. I use a Tumblr site exclusively to host our Trackur Status blog. If all of our servers go down–heaven forbid–this blog should remain up and running so we can provide our customers with updates.


Google Analytics

3. Google Analytics – web analytics

I’ve tried many different web analytics tools, but Google Analytics is hard to beat–especially the price! 😉



4. Feedly – RSS reader

Like many, I was dismayed when Google Reader shut down. Fortunately I found Feedly and they’ve worked hard to provide excellent features in their RSS reader. While I don’t subscribe to as many RSS feeds as I once used to, I still use Feedly to get feeds for my favorite sites and also important Trackur alerts.



5. Trackur – social media monitoring

Well duh! We built Trackur because Google Alerts sucked and everything else was either too complicated or too expensive. I still track our performance against some Google Alerts and always enjoy it when we discover items before Google!



6. Hootsuite – social media engagement

By far the best way to interact and post on Twitter is via Hootsuite. Multiple users can access a single Twitter account and you can schedule posts etc. The web interface has come a long way, but Hootsuite is still my #1 choice!



7. Zendesk – help desk

I know there are many new up and coming help desk companies, but I’ve been using Zendesk for many years. It’s affordable, customizable, and allows us to provide excellent customer service without needing a huge support team. The smartphone apps are especially useful–I can resolve a ticket while out to dinner or sitting in an airport.



8. Kashoo – accounting

I’m nuts about Kashoo (get it?). For years I searched for a simple alternative to Quickbooks and finally found it a few years ago in Kashoo. How easy is it to use? Well, I do all of my own accounting because it makes it THAT easy!



9. Basecamp – project management

OK, I may have a man crush on Jason Fried. He probably doesn’t even realize that he and 37Signals have been my unofficial mentor for years. Basecamp is the epitome of easy to use software that is affordable and requires little customer support. We use it to keep track and prioritize development projects and new feature updates. Well worth the $20 we pay each month.



10. PayPal/Braintree – payment processing

I have a love/hate relationship with PayPal–their dispute resolution is horrible–but can’t say enough good things about Braintree. Just as we were migrating all payments over to Braintree, PayPal came along and acquired them. So far, they’ve not ruined it. 😉



11. Freshbooks – invoicing

I don’t send out a lot of invoices, but when I do, I use Freshbooks.



12. Securi – malware security

After a WordPress hack that left me scrambling to clean up malicious code, I decided that Securi was the best way to keep an eye on our site, protect it from attacks, and let visitors know that we’re safe and secure.



13. iubenda – privacy policies

They do one thing and they do it well: they make setting up your Privacy Policy super easy and transparent. It’s just $27 a year–and saves me a ton of time.



14. Hostdime – hosting

My top choice for hosting is Hostdime. They’ve taken good care of us and have excellent uptime. They’re also pretty cool folks, so that helps.



15. Hivelocity – hosting two

My second choice for hosting goes to Hivelocity. We use them for secondary servers or if I just need something quick and affordable.



16. Synthesis – hosting too

An honorable mention to Synthesis. I use these guys to host Marketing Pilgrim and they do an superb job at a very attractive rate.



17. Vimeo – video player

Of course I use YouTube, but for Trackur’s video tutorials and such, I like the clean, ad-free options provided by Vimeo.



18. Pingdom – website uptime

Kudos to our SysAdmin Jesse for keeping us close to 100% uptime. For those rare times that our server does go down, Pingdom watches the site for us…even while we sleep.



19. MaxCDN – content delivery network

A shout out to my buddy Ben Wills for this affordable find. I started using them a couple of months ago and so far have found them to be a very affordable and reliable Content Delivery Network. Google around to find a coupon that gets your monthly rate below $10!



20. Envato – web creative

Whenever I need a WordPress theme, jingle, or any other kind of web collateral, I head to the Envato Market. You can get a super cool WordPress theme for around $50 and then customize the heck out of it!



21. iStockPhoto – royalty free images

I know there are trendier royalty-free stock photo sites, but I’ve been using iStockPhoto for years and they have a great selection. Whenever I speak at a conference, I make my slide decks much more interesting thanks to their images.



22. Gyazo – screen grabs

Sometimes it’s easier to show someone what you are seeing on your screen, than describe it. Gyazo is a quick, free, and easy way to share screen grabs over the web.


So, what would you add? Any tools that you really like that you think should be added to the list?