A look at the tools and apps teams are using to build and manage their growing startups.
Choosing the right tools for managing, marketing, organizing and building your startup can seriously impact your growth, and sometimes also your costs. As part of the Bread and Butter Ventures platform, I’m working on building out a few resources that will help our companies make more informed choices as they make decisions on the latest tools to use to build their business. This is the first in our new series of BBV: Founder Tech Stack. What are the tools and apps founders are using to build their companies and manage their lives?
First up, I spoke with Aneesh Dhawan, the Founder and CEO of PurPics, a Gen Z intelligence platform on a mission to help brands better engage and understand this next generation of consumers. As Aneesh puts it, “Our vision is to be the go-to platform for Gen Z. We’re connecting brands with this next generation of consumers in a completely different way than it’s ever been done before, and really doing it around social causes and connecting both parties and transforming that relationship to be around social good.”
Aneesh and Purpics’ tech stack is below, but there is one tool that isn’t here that he wishes existed. “It would be a tool that can help you regain some of those kinds of spontaneous conversations or spontaneous subjects. I feel like some of the best ideas or best kind of strategies that we’ve come up with have just been from you’re in the office, and something pops up, and you turn it over to someone and say, “Hey, what do you think about this?” If there’s something that can recreate that other than you picking up the phone and you never know if the other person’s busy or not, that would be awesome.”
TIKTOK / INSTAGRAM / SNAPCHAT
The big buzz this summer and since quarantine has been around TikTok. Our TikTok beta is actually going live next week. We built out the entire integration with their platform these last couple of weeks or last month really. So we’re doing a lot on TikTok both from an integration and product standpoint, and just socially. Obviously we’re on Instagram too. Snapchat, we’re all using, but we don’t have a company account on that.
TikTok is super exciting in my opinion because the type of content you get on it is a lot more authentic. One, because you have to be, frankly, more creative to create a TikTok than to take a picture. There’s actually some level of effort that goes into it. But the second thing is, TikTok is very unique in its algorithms, where you have the ability for content that is truly engaging to go viral and to be seen by a lot more people. I think it’s obvious they’ve seen a boost with quarantine because, I think, one, Gen Z just has a lot more time on their hands. Everyone’s at home. A lot of people are not in school anymore. And so the popularity of that platform, and then it’s just the content is so great.
Instagram is very popular. I don’t think it’s going to go away, and they’re adding TikTok-like features. They did a great job with Instagram stories to kind of have that Snapchat as a feature. And then Snapchat, same thing. I think it’s pretty much a staple. People are on it and using it consistently as well. So those are still, in our opinion, the three most popular ones and the ones that brands should look out for when trying to engage Gen Z: Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok.
Something that I love and that we personally started using a lot more from the admin side is Brex. They pretty much created the business credit cards for startups. We started using it about, I want to say like a year and a half, two years ago. What I really love about it is two features. One is they have a virtual credit card. We just throw all of our subscriptions on that virtual credit card. They’ve done a really good job with aligning incentives. I think they might’ve tweaked it now, but you got 7% cashback on Ubers, which is great because that’s just so much better for a startup than a traditional credit card incentives. Plus, you get some crazy percentage back on software subscriptions. So that virtual card, you throw all your subscriptions on it. Even if you ever lose a credit card or something happens, you’re never going to lose a virtual card, you don’t have to go and unsubscribe to everything.
Then the second thing is they just came out with Brex Cash, which is basically like a checking and savings account. We use that a lot because it’s really easy to make wire transfers on that, international wire transfers are free. It’s just a lot sleeker than our current bank account dashboard. Any kind of ACH or transfer we have to make, we use Brex Cash.
We used podcast advertising for marketing one of our webinars. What we loved about Zvook, which is a platform that helps you find podcasts, was that you can reach super-niche audiences. We sponsored this podcast where the host interviewed CMOs, so we knew that the audience was probably going to be marketing executives. We ran a couple of ads on that which was pretty cool.
We use Zoom for most of our team meetings, ever since Covid hit. We’re all usually based in Austin but obviously not right now, so we’re very remote. Our CTO’s in India, we have folks that went back to their family’s homes. I went back to Virginia, so we were kind of all over the country and still are for these last few months.
Slack is definitely a big one, we’re all on Slack but we actually use iMessage too. It’s just more casual than Slack, which is, for me, a little bit more structured. We also use WhatsApp a decent amount. I love WhatsApp’s ability to just send voice messages. I’ll use that with some of my investors a lot. I’ll use it with Raahish, our CTO, a lot because he’s in India. Then I just personally use it a lot as well because I have a lot of family out in India. It’s great for voice and international.
For outbound sales specifically and outbound marketing, I’m a huge, huge fan of Seamless.ai. We were on the platform very early. It’s an AI software that will find contact information for you, and they have LinkedIn integration as well. So, if we really need to reach out to a brand, they just make it super easy to find an email rather than us searching and pouring through other platforms or through the web, scrolling through the web to get an email or guessing what the email would be.
We’re using Jira for our tech teams to report user bugs and issues. That’s been super helpful in streamlining communications between our tech team and customer success team because a lot of our developers are offshored to India. It’s just really nice that you can kind of just upload a ticket and they’ll take care of it!
Our client and user success team really, really love using Monday. It’s project management software. We were tracking all of our campaigns on Excel sheets, and not that Excel is bad, but Monday just has such a better UIUX than Excel. It’s a lot easier to collaborate on and get a view of how everything is going all at once. We’ve been using that for the last year or so and it’s made a big difference for us.
MAPMYRUN / INSIGHT TIMER
Working out is one of the ways I help with the stress that comes from running a startup. MapMyRun is great because it knows any type of exercise that you’re doing, so hiking, biking, running. So I use it a lot for my runs and for my bikes, just track how long I’m going. My favorite part about MapMyRun is you can change the notifications for one bit, like, “Hey, you’ve done a mile or 10 miles.” So, for the longer runs, I can set it at five or 10-mile intervals, for the shorter runs, I can set it a mile or an interval. Same thing for biking. That’s probably my favorite app for fitness.
Insight Timer is a kind of a meditation app. They have guided meditation, they have different types of meditation on that but I don’t really use that portion at all. I just use it for the timer piece. I usually meditate or at least try to meditate before work every day. And sometimes I might have 10 minutes because I’m running late, or sometimes I might have 30 minutes or 40 minutes. I love their simple timer that just tracks how you’re using it and how long you’re doing it. Plus it’s a lot less jarring than an iPhone alarm when the 30 minutes are over
This post is the first in a series that reviews the tech stacks of up-and-coming startups to provide insights and ideas to other founders and teams. Stay tuned for more.