Selling our SaaS Startup: The apps we used to grow from $0 to Sale
So you have an idea for a new SaaS startup, now what? The process of taking an idea and growing it into a viable business involves many steps and important resources.
When my co-founder and I started our SaaS business, Nextup.ai, we were fortunate enough to tap into a network of other entrepreneurs for guidance. Now that our business has successfully sold, we want to pay that guidance forward.
We used many various tools and apps to make our software, website, marketing, sales, and other processes happen. Since our startup was focused around productivity, naturally we were always looking for the next technology that could make our lives easier.
What follows is our list of must-have apps and tools designed to help a SaaS startup get off the ground.
These apps make up our core stack of apps that we use everyday and in different purposes across the business.
Dropbox - records of all signed documents, policies, SOC reports and much more.
Google Workspace - for email, calendar, contacts and other communication tools use G-Suite.
Microsoft Office - self explanatory, you may eventually become an expert in “Track Changes.”
Slack - we extensively used Slack to communicate with our remote team.
Zapier - when data needed to move around and developers were busy, we used Zapier.
When creating our app we used a set of apps to help us track, manage and deliver software in our agile process.
Bitbucket - we store our code, run our branching process, etc here.
Coda - New solution for documenting new features prior to development.
Confluence - General use wiki for anything we wanted anyone on team to be able to access.
Jira - agile development, defect tracking, project planning and more.
We built our apps for our internal use cases first and extensively use our own apps in our process.
Deals+ we use Deals+ to track sales activity in Slack and notify our team when we win new customers.
Docs+ we extensively use Slack and use Docs+ to keep confluence updated with our decisions.
Helpdesk+ used for logging issues for customers, interacting with customers in shared channels and checking status.
Jira Integration+ our workhorse app for engineering to track work in Slack and keep our tickets accurate.
Meeting+ to shorten our scrums and increase our efficiency we use our meeting app with Slack.
Data flow diagram
This diagram shows some of the apps we used and how the data flows between our systems. In this case the apps have to do with aspects of our system where customer data can be found based on various rules.
As you can see, the stack of apps we used eventually became pretty extensive for a small startup like ours.
How we used Slack
Of all the apps we used, Slack was likely the most important for our business. Our team was fully remote, so transparency and open communication with our internal team and customers was paramount.
We used Slack integrated with our key systems as our communication hub with the goal of having all communication visible and our workflow kept mostly in Slack.
Working with external customers
Transparency: billing channels, sign ups, etc
Working with partners: Atlassian, Slack, consulting companies
Using Slack sidebar and channel groupings to organize effectively
Early on in our company, we set a rule that all Slack communication was to take place in channels vs DMs. We wanted everyone relevant to a topic to have visibility to it in case they could add updates to keep work moving faster.
We organized our Slack sidebar with channel groupings based on a variety of indicators including:
Internal functions: In order to keep individual teams moving without distraction, we created channels specific for roles like marketing, dev, and sales. Relevant team members were added to each channel and all conversations took place openly there.
Major projects: Each of our big projects were given a dedicated channel as well. For example, in 2022 we revamped our website, so that project was given its own channel called “marketing website - webflow” where important updates, project status and idea sharing was housed.
Product performance: When someone signs up for a free trial for any of our products, our team is alerted in a channel specific to that product. The channel is configured to tell us if that person was able to connect to Jira and how many users they have. This helps our sales team identify key information for follow up and gives everyone visibility into how each product is performing.
External customers: One of our main ethos as a company is to provide stellar customer support. That’s why we set up a dedicated support channel in Slack for each of our enterprise customers. There they can ask questions, log bugs or suggest new features. One of our team members typically responds in channel within minutes or we “swarm” the request with multiple team members jumping in.
Partners, consultants and vendors: We also bring our communication with our partners, like Atlassian and Slack, into channels as much as possible. Any outside consultants or contractors we work with is communicated to in Slack as well.
Overall, Slack proved crucial for growing our business as it helped us collaborate internally and provide excellent service to our customers.
What we learned
Identifying and using the right tools can be the difference between a thriving startup and a failing one. When you’re working with a small team, cutting corners and letting technology do the work for you is crucial.
Bottom line: if there’s a shortcut or easier way to do something, it’s worth the investment!
Learn more about our startup journey in the other posts in our series about selling our SaaS startup.