Building Blocks for Remote work at RecargaPay. Part 1 Infrastructure (SAAS)

Picture is from 2004 in Maui, when we had a team of programmers in Ukraine and Buenos Aires.
Picture is from 2004 in Maui, when we had a team of programmers in Ukraine and Buenos Aires.

I started working remote over 18 years ago with a team of programmers in Ukraine and a larger team in Argentina while I was living in Los Angeles (later moved to maui (picture above), after Buenos aires and finally Miami). I’m sharing what will be a series of posts on what we have learned over the years.

The objective of this post is to share what we have learned after 8 years of trying by design to build a remote company, somehow giving back to the community of entrepreneurs from which we have learned so much. :D

I also believe that being Remote is a mindset and although it is not for everyone I believe that building a company with these concepts in mind can help tremendously in finding how to do many things in a better and more efficient way.

This is a long post with +60 SAAS products, most are obvious, but we know that getting to learn about just one new SAAS product could be a game changer in your organization.

We continuously are on the lookout for new SAAS products to make our lives easier and more productive, if you think we are missing something, pls send feedback in the comments section!

Internal communication:

Slack: internal chat

Using it since 2016, costs $8 per member per month

Why? It has proven to be the best internal chat system, and the preferred by the tech team. In the end we decided to use only one chat, and Slack was chosen before Hangouts.

How? Everyone uses both the web application and the smartphone app, meaning we can be connected 24/7 if needed.

Facebook Workplace: company intranet

Using it since 2017, costs $3 per member per month

Why? We have people working in Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Rio, Mexico, USA and remotely in many other places. Workplace has proven to be a great resource to keep communication flowing with links, photos, events, videos. Mobile app is well made and it just works.

How? Mostly posting when new people come into the company, sharing company news, viewing LIVE videos from management. We also use it to share events, birthdays and internal challenges.

Google Hangouts: chat and conference calls

Using it since 2017, costs $7 per member per month (includes G-suite & gmail)

Why? Since we use Gmail for our corporate email and calendar is well tied into it, hangouts are just a natural extension for internal conferencing and chat. We have recently decided that our chats should take place entirely on Slack.

How? When sending a calendar invite, the Hangouts link comes attached. For all our daily calls we use Hangouts.

Zoom: conference calls

Using it since 2018, costs $15 per licence per month

Why? Given it’s higher quality, “it just works”… Zoom is used for important video calls and for those with many participants

How? Those with a license create a meeting and share the link in the calendar invite or over chat.

Gmail: email service

Using it since 2007, costs $7 per member per month (includes G-suite & Hangouts)

Why? It provides an excellent user experience, without need to configure or install anything, both for computer and smartphone.

How? On a browser in the computer and using the email app on smartphones.

Human Resources:

Bamboo: Workforce management

Using it since 2015, costs $1,130 per month

Why? It includes an applicant tracking system (ATS) and HRIS tools to manage all aspects of the employee lifecycle.

How? It’s an easy to use platform that helps keep track of the relevant information of all the employees. It shows information such as area, department, date of admission, telephone number and vacation control.

Workable: Hiring and candidates pipeline

Using it since 06/2015, costs $400 per month

Why? To organize recruiting we use this hiring platform, to streamline our recruiting and hiring processes.

How? Uploading new profiles directly to the platform and managing job posts and hiring plans. We allow all managers to access the recruiting cycle in a very interactive and simple way.

LinkedIn Recruiter: Candidate sourcing tool

Using it since 2019, costs $1,200 per license per year

Why? For key job positions we need to increase our sourcing strength, and LinkedIn has probably the largest candidate database worldwide.

How? Through linkedin.com, logged to Recruiter account, you can search for, filter, and contact LinkedIn members who fit the job post. The Lite account comes with an amount of InMail you can send to candidates per month, whereas the full account has unlimited InMails. The main advantage of the full version is the Integration with the ATS Workable to add and manage candidates, including Hiring Managers to evaluate candidates and several recruiting reports. Another feature is Linkedin Job Slot, which allows to promote a job search in the social network, to reach a large number of candidates that fit the profile.

Qulture Rock: Performance Management

Using it since 2019, costs $ 960 per month

Why? As we scaled we needed a more structured performance review system, and Qulture Rocks allows it along with 1-on-1s, goal setting, 360-degrees and ongoing on-the-spot feedback and recognition.

How? All employees have access to do the platform, where they can see the performance reviews. The managers can evaluate and create areas to write down their feedback and HR can structure compensation according to the last review.

Office tools:

G-suite: documents, spreadsheets, presentations and data storage

Using it since 2010, costs $7 per member per month (includes gmail & Hangouts)

Why? Even if less powerful than Microsoft Office, the g-suite document sharing ability makes it more convenient. We leverage this feature in almost all of our documents, as several people modify documents simultaneously.

How? Creating documents from an existing template or copying an existing similar one. Then we share them with the relevant stakeholders, and allow anyone in the company with the links to edit it. We keep all our documents in G-drive.

Microsoft office: documents, spreadsheets and presentations

Using it since 2010, costs $6 per member per month

Why? It is a better tool than G-suite overall, but some of its power is lost when using it on Mac. Hence, we use Excel and sometimes Word and Powerpoint, only for complex or confidential taks.

How? Only key employees have a license, for example most employees in the finance and credit teams.

Quip: shared documents

Using it since 2017, costs $12 per member per month

Why? It is a great way to track a direct report’s evolution on different topics, giving visibility on the work done.

How? A shared document is created for every employee, where she is to put relevant information regarding her job, tasks, to dos, etc. Her boss is given access to be updated with everything going on with that topic.

Tableau: Data visualization

Using it since 2019, costs $263 per month

Why? It provides very useful interactive dashboards, we can check business health in a glance, look for outliers and find opportunities. Not everybody in the company has the skills to get data via SQL but they all need information to run business.

How? It is used like an Excel spreadsheet, with great ease-of-use and power to sustain large data sets, offering different visualization perspectives.

GrapheneDB: Data visualization

Using it since 2019, costs $400 per month

Why? GrapheneDB is a cloud-based hosting provider for Neo4J. Neo4J is a type of database used for complex relationships entities visualization. We applied this to identify fraud in P2P transactions, and it provides us a general clear view of P2P networks, transferring values among themselves.

How? Thanks to Neo4J we were able to identify how P2P Fraud is happening and how P2P Chargeback attack works. We update GrapheneDB daily, at 08:30 am with an automated process, to check the possible formation of fraud networks.

Box: Data storage

Using it since 2010, costs $23 per member per month

Why? Box provides maximum security for data storage and document sharing.

How? We use it for areas that deal with confidential information like Finance.

DocuSign: Electronic agreements and contracts

Using it since 2013, costs $83 per license per month

Why? Docusign is the best known tool to sign agreements, making it easier since other companies already use it and have signatures registered in their system.

How? Parties involved in a deal agree on the text, and then the contract is sent to Docusign for all the stakeholders to sign it electronically.

Product development:

Github: Software development platform

Using it since 2015, costs $4 per member per month

Why? Github is one of Git repositories for code leaders, with a developer focused design, great integrations and a huge open source community.

How? All our devs generate code changes following code reviews, getting approval before merging in the final stage. Every step triggers events through integrations and that external tools generate every validation or completion for deployment on the corresponding stage.

HackerOne: Security bug bounty

Using it since 2018, costs $19 per member per month

Why? HackerOne lets us have an inbound communication channel with security researchers around the world.

How? We have an Open Bounty Program covering our critical services. Researchers can report any security issue allowing us to keep our platform running with the highest security standards.

NewRelic: Performance monitoring platform

Using it since 2012, costs $17 per member per month

Why? It’s one of the most powerful application performance monitoring tools.

How? With NewRelic, developers get a great visualization of how every piece of the platform is running. This allows for a quick response in case of issues, making the development process easier.

PopSQL: Collaborative SQL editor

Using it since 2018, costs $16 per member per month

Why? We have lots of tables and databases. With this software we can share queries and connections so everybody in the team can use them.

How? When a query is homologated by the team, we use a PopSQL repository to share it.

PostMan: Collaboration platform for API development

Using it since 2018, costs $15 per member per month

Why? This tool accelerates development as it provides structured documentation and allows to test the expected behavior of an API both in testing and production environments. It also allows you to build an API before deploying code.

How? All new developments are built in postman first and existing APIs were imported.

StatusHero: Application for tracking daily goals

Using it since 2016, costs $4 per member per month

Why? Focus is key to our development process. This tool helps each team member set daily goals and make them visible to others. It’s also a way to document daily stand-ups or even replace them.

How? Every morning the team members of each squad check-in and state the goals completed the day before and set the goals for the day. The tool provides quick reports and is integrated with Slack and Github.

TravisCI: Continuous integration service

Using it since 2017, costs $13 per member per month

Why? With this continuous integration tool we make sure every Pull Request is tested before it’s merged. This reduces the need for functional testing and accelerates the development process.

How? All new story development is obliged to at least maintain the existing test coverage, so the whole team is responsible for automation.

Wrike: Project management platform

Using it since 2018, costs $18 per member per month

Why? Wrike fits really well with our development process. We centralize backlogs of many different teams to build a unified company sprint.

How? Multiple assignees, flexibility to share a task among multiple projects, different views for different purposes and a simple UX turned this tool into a one stop solution for the project management of the whole company.

Finance & Accounting:

Colpy: Argentina ERP

Using it since 2016, costs USD 700 Annually

Why? It is an amazing software. Really easy to manage. It has all the functions and modules needed for tax and accounting purposes and we can obtain all the necessary reports to be in compliance with local regulations.

How? It is a web service software. The Argentinian accounting team has access to it.

Xero: USA ERP

Using it since 2016 , costs USD 50 monthly

Why? Easy to use and connected with bank feeds that makes it a smooth accounting system. We use this software to account for all the US operations.

How? Web service that is used by the US accounting team.

Planwork: Brasil ERP

Using since 2016 — $ 150/month

Carta: Cap table and board minutes management

Using it since 2014, costs $1000 per month

Why? Amazing tool to streamline cap table management, issuing of stock options, 409A valuation, board minute & approvals, and now also virtual data room. We’ve been using it since very early on, and it’s amazing how the product has evolved and improved.

How? All our stock certificates are created and stored digitally. Cap table management and scenario modeling becomes super easy. All share holders as well as options holders have a personal access where they can track their holdings, vestings, exercise the options, etc. Also, all our board minutes are stored in Carta, and since all the board members have their personal access, the approval process can be done 100% online.

Equals: Brazil Reconciliation Software

Using it since December 2018, it costs USD 7300 per month on average.

How? It is a software located on the web that receives information from RP as well as from our suppliers. With this software we are able to automatically reconcile sales and credit card accounts receivables by setting specific rules for each supplier.. There are different user profiles for the finance team and it is an important tool that is also used by fraud and payment teams..

Conciliac: Brazil Conciliation Software

Using it since March 2020, it costs USD 7500 Annually (includes 2 subscriptions).

How? This software is located in one of our servers. We use it to reconcile sales and cash in accounts receivables. We upload RP files as well as the supplier files and by setting different rules we can do manual reconciliations faster and with a big quantity of orders.

Infrastructure:

Lucid Chart: Visual communication tool

Using it since 2016, costs $6 per member per month

Why? This is one of the easiest and fastest ways to design architecture and infrastructure with embedded AWS designs.

How? Design charts of infrastructure and architecture is a crucial part of creating strong processes. Having a sharp process on Lucid Chart allowing collaboration in design editions helps us improve documentation and knowledge transfer among tech staff.

PagerDuty: Incident response platform

Using it since 2014, costs $24 per member per month

Why? It helps us have well communicated on-call schedules for our operations teams, and a well documented response for each of those incidents.

How? PagerDuty sends notifications to the on-call team in case of problems, with a precise order of communication and configurable fallbacks and integrations.

PGAnalyze: PostgreSQL performance monitoring

Using it since 2018, costs $350 per month

Why? Our platform makes use of PostgreSQL as a relational database and we use PGAnalyze as its statistics visualization.

How? We keep track of how queries change their resource consumption, quantity of calls and load per call over time. We permanently use this tool as a source for continuous optimization iteration.

StatusCake: Website monitoring and downtime updates

Using it since 2017, costs $25 per month

Why? We found StatusCake to be a simple and effective uptime monitor for most of our public health endpoints.

How? We integrated StatusCake with PagerDuty to let us know when a health endpoint fails. It also helps us having an almost self-documented report of our uptime metrics measured on a weekly or monthly basis.

Tenable: Vulnerability risk management

Using it since 2016, costs $183 per month

Why? Tanable Nessus is the industry Standard Vulnerability Scanner.

How? We use it in its cloud version Tenable.io to periodically scan our platform internally throught its virtual agents, and externally from Tenable Platform, letting us cover compliance and security requirements.

Maxmind: Geolocation database

Using it since 2010, costs $104 per month

Why? It helps us prevent fraud and makes customers enjoy a better application journey.

How? We periodically download updates to help us keep track of any mismatch in the customer location and the real client ip city at the time an order is posted.

Mantis Hub: Bug and issue tracking

Using it since 2016, costs $29 per month

Why: Used for Bug Tracking throughout the Defect lifecycle, given its Supports Analytic and Reporting features.

How: Bugs are detailed in the Hub, including description, priority, steps, environment, status, responsibility and other useful data. It also creates reports for further QA analysis.

Design:

Adobe CC: Comprehensive graphic design tool

Using it since 2017, costs $70 per member per month

Why? Our design team needs it for new designs, to create vector elements such as illustrations and modify images.

How? Illustrations and product icons are created with this tool, as well as device mockups.

InVision: Digital product design platform

Using it since 2017, costs $99 per license per month

Why? It allows us to create fast prototypes in order to test new products and features directly with users.

How? We create user flows (screens and interactions) and then validate them with users before sending the flows to development.

Overflow: User flow designs

Using it since 2020, costs $12 per member per month

Why? To have all current user flows in one place to quickly validate product development updates.

How? All screens are shared with product owners, then linked with connectors to generate all user flows, covering all existing use cases.

Principle: Animated and interactive user interfaces

Using it since 2019, costs $11 per member per month

Why? To create animations and interactions in the app.

How? Principle is used to produce realistic samples when a high quality Ux component is needed, or when an interaction could be more efficient.

Sketch: Vector graphics editor for macOS

Using it since 2017, costs $5 per member per month

Why? Given its ease of use and its wide range of features, Sketch is our main tool for the Ux team. All app screens, user interface components and prototyping are made in Sketch. It’s the industry standard for digital design.

How? A shared pattern library allows us to rapidly turn our ideas into responsive designs.

Zeplin: Collaboration and handoff for product teams

Using it since 2018, costs $12 per member per month

Why? It greatly improves design handoff, creating a bridge with the development team for a better collaboration, granting more control on final results.

How? We organize and share all our designs through Zeplin. It gives the development team an understanding of the design specs (measures, styles, assets and position values) and it’s our shared source of technical specifications.

Marketing:

Leanplum: Customer engagement platform

Using it since 2017, costs $5,600 per month

Why? This CRM system is what we use to communicate with our customers to engage, notify or promote our services and products. It is mainly used by the Marketing and Product teams, but some members of the CX and Collection teams also use it in specific kinds of communications.

How? Sending email, push notifications and in-app messages via transactional, relationship or promotional communications automations.

Mandrill: Transactional email platform

Using it since 2013, costs $50 per month

Why? For many years, this was the system we used to send our transactional emails. But now, we are working on a careful transition of all our messages to LeanPlum and will not use Mandrill anymore.

How? Sending our transactional emails as a check user actions like cell phone top ups, for example.

Infobip: Full-stack communications platform

Using it since 2017, costs $10,000 per month

Why? It provides a very reliable service at the most competitive pricing.

How? All our sms messages for account verification are sent through Infobip.

HelpShift: Digital customer service

Using it since 2014, costs $56 per member per month

Why: The Customer Experience team needs a platform to receive customer contacts in order to respond and follow up, and HelpShift delivers at a very reasonable price.

How: The system receives all customer contacts via Relationship Center, Email or Chat. It provides a full view of cases received and customer history, with some relevant KPIs like Service Level Agreement, Satisfaction, Active Users and Reason for contact.

AppAnnie: App analytics and market data

Using it since 2015, costs $3,000 per month

Why? It allows us to track the competition and market insights, becoming the basis for a great part of our intelligence market analysis.

How? By collecting data like downloads, active users and store reviews we can track the performance of other players in our market.

SurveyMonkey: Online surveys

Using it since 2016, costs $31 per license per month

Why? We need to perform surveys very frequently to understand our users, and SurveyMonkey is the easiest to understand, both for the one creating the form as well as the one completing it. Marketing, Product, Collection and UX teams use it to create surveys and help us get user feedback proactively.

How? Everything is done on their webpage, including functionalities like sending usability feedback forms, campaigns recall forms, NPS research or market intelligence forms. We can get qualitative and quantitative insights from our user base and get inputs for all kinds of internal projects.

Power BI: Data visualization

Using it since 2020, costs $10 per member per month

Why: We use it because apart from being a Business Intelligence data consolidation platform, it has native integration with Helpshift, making it more convenient for our CX team.

How: Helpshift makes all historical and service data available to Power BI through the cloud. It is possible to create dashboards, monitor metrics, extract and analyse data.

AppsFlyer: Mobile marketing analytics

Using it since 2017, costs $2,800 per month

Why? To track the number of installations and their origins, conversions and users actions in our app (e.g.: Top Up Purchases / Bills Purchases / Gift Card Purchases).

How? Using a track code from Appsflyer in RecargaPay app and Medias Tools (e.g.: Facebook Ads / Google Ads / Twitter Ads and others tools).

Salesforce: Customer relationship management

Using it since 2016, costs $55 per license per month

Why? It provides a very simple solution for managing a large number of relationships.

How? Our BizDev team uses Salesforce to organize, keep track and follow up on negotiations with B2B customers and partners.

Credit & collections:

Cedrus: Collections platform

Using it since 2019, costs $18 per member per month

Why? To manage our non-performing-loans portfolio setting up collection campaigns, managing KPIs, testing different strategies and collection channels.

How? Extracting data from QV and uploading it to Cedrus. This daily manual process could be automated in the future.

Marktel: Massive communications system

Using it since 2020, costs $80 per member per month

Why? Since we need to get in touch with our debtors, we do it through MMS with Marktel, sending longer and better messages then SMS. It will eventually be used as an additional collection channel, helping our ChatBot to negotiate and collect debt.

How? The collections department selects groups of debtors and massively sends MMS messages.

Serasa Pefin: Credit Bureau

Using it since 2019, costs $54 per member per month

Why? We need this Brazilian tool to black-list our bad debtors and as a bureau to gather more information regarding new and existing debtors.

How? We perform a manual input for debtors to be included or removed from the blacklist.

Twilio: Cloud communications platform

Using it since 2018, costs $366 per license per month

Why? As it’s integrated with Leanplum, it sends automatic messages previously parametrized as our “communication-rule”.

How? It has been integrated to send automatic whatsapp messages (reminders and collection messages) to Loan users. That message contains a link to our Chatbot where users can negotiate their debt.

Velip: Voice messaging and virtual answering

Using it since 2019, costs $400 per license per month

Why? To model our collection VoiceBot so debtors receive an automated call informing them of the debt amount, due date and alternatives to pay. Also used to send “reminders” messages before Loans due date.

How? Collection department selects users. Extracts data-se from QV. Uploads then in Velip cloud and parametrizes date and time-slot to the tool to make the calls.

HOPEFULLY YOU FOUND IT HELPFUL :D

We continuously are on the lookout for new SAAS products to make our lives more productive, if you think we are missing something, pls send feedback in the comments section!

Founder & CEO of RecargaPay. On a mission to democratize financial services. Love doing the Impossible. MIT TR35, YGL, WEF, EO, ML50, KiteSurfer ex Sonico