Essential Tools for New Startups

We work with a variety of startups across Product, User Experience, Design, Development, Architecture, QA, Operations and more. We partner with them from the early stages of

a founder with an idea to scaling and supporting millions of users. After many years of immersing ourselves in the startup environment, we’ve got a good idea of the most suitable tools and services to create a successful startup.

Here are some tools across Analytics, Marketing, Billing, Careers, System/Tech and Operations that we have found to be most useful for technology oriented startups i.e startups who have an in-house technology team developing products and services.

Metrics are a key part of any business; a way to keep a check on the health of your product and startup as a whole. The key analytic tools we found helpful to startups are as follows. Note that these do not include broader business analytics metrics since these are more suited for product analytics and performance. (Which in the case of most tech startups is the key metric to track).


Google Analytics: A great way to keep track of general performance of your web and mobile sites in the form of unique visitor numbers and provides traffic sources and paths through your product. While it might not be ideal for individual event tracking, it has gotten great for cross device tracking including native mobile apps. Besides these, it also lets you track the performance of your paid advertising channels, outside of Google Adwords own analytics .

FlurryAn irreplaceable product for mobile event analytics that lets you segment your user analytics and chase down the best user acquisition channels. Startups tend to use this alongside Google Analytics for in-depth mobile app tracking and optimization.

MixpanelThe best product for real time event tracking and easy for tracking events you really care about. While also letting you set-up paths and goals, Mixpanel is nice for big picture analytics and super easy to use for non-tech savvy stakeholders. Note that usage can become addictive in terms of observing how your product is being used in real-time; save the analysis for when you have data from more clickstreams..


KissMetricsIf you’re doing any kind of A/B testing, Kissmetrics is your go-to option. It provides several options to monitor a variety of tests with a focus on actual users, user cohorts, and user behavior across your product.

App FiguresThis lets you track key app metrics including installs and active users and has a nice alert feature to send you periodic emails with this information.

Chartbeat: Nothing quite like seeing a dashboard of your key metrics in one place and in one tab. Chartbeat makes this happen.

CrazyEgg: If you want to know where your users are clicking on your site Crazy Egg is the answer. Equipped with the finest such tracking and several visualization options from heatmaps to ‘click dots’, CrazyEgg is one of the most advanced products in its industry.


Facebook: Ideal channel to target a B2C audience and enables phenomenal reach with limited cost. Has the ability to heavily target by demographic and if integrated, we recommend making use of pages specific to your business.

Twitter: Ideal for B2B and B2B engagement, a must for any startup.

Instagram Suitable if your business has something visual to portray e.g product shots. Mostly used if your business is related to travel, events, or you conduct business at a venue your customers visit e.g a restaurant or a store.

Hootsuite: Lets you post and track performance across multiple social channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. An invaluable timesaver and among other such tools we’ve evaluated, Hootsuite is the best place to start.

Vimeo: Great for promotional videos you want to embed on your website or blog. It provides a nice clean white-labeled player and lets you customize the theme. 

YouTube: Great place to put up video content and have it be discovered organically and shared directly on Youtube and other social channels.

DisqusIf you have a blog or a comments section on your website, Disqus is a great solution to use. With their user count already in astounding numbers, it can be used to pull in other relevant content.

Yelp (Business Owner): Highly recommended to set up an account if you are a local business and local discovery is important to you.

Google AdWordsThis is the Go-To tool for online paid advertising since the majority of internet users use and absorb content through Google. If you are looking to enter the world of paid online advertising, Google Adwords is the place to start.

WordPressIf you’re looking for a platform to start a great blog, look no further because WordPress is the Go-To Solution. Easy to use with several pre-existing themes and templates, as well as several plugins for things like SEO, visual elements, payments and more.

Survey MonkeyAmong the various survey tools out there, Survey Monkey is a great tool to run periodic surveys with your users and prospective users. A close second is Survey Gizmo, followed by Google Forms if you like to keep things simple.

Shutterstock: We all need stock images once in awhile, Shutterstock being one of the best places to go for this. With high quality shots and reasonable prices, this company certainly has every type of picture you need.  

MailchimpAmong email marketing tools out there, this is the most popular and recommended email marketing tool. With well rounded sets of features in all respects, Mailchimp is designed to be user-friendly and is a great tool to start your email marketing adventures with.

Hasoffers: A great way to offer your product or service to several affiliate marketers and networks. In other words, let other networks market for you, grow your audience, and create new revenue opportunities. You should only consider this if you were looking to distribute your services via affiliate marketing.

123rfA good source of royalty-free images as well as non standard stock photography.

If you are collecting any kind of money directly online from your users, then you need a variety of billing solutions besides your main bank of course.

First DataThe de-facto Payment Processor, with several settlement options and competitive rates.

Paypal: A service that enables you to pay, send money, and accept payments. If you plan to collect money via Paypal, you will need their business account. 

​BraintreeAmong modern credit card gateways out there, (eg Stripe, Braintree etc) we find Braintree to be the most user-friendly and competitive. They also provide end to end solutions from payment gateways to payment processors. They recently have become the only solution to support all types of payments including Paypal via one solution, which makes it a clear winner above the rest.

Freshbooks: Collecting and tracking invoices? Freshbooks is ideal.

If you need something shipped, these two top-of-the-line delivery services provide fast and easy
​transportation. Sorry if we sound like Captain Obvious here.


Freshdirect: A New York City specific company that delivers fresh groceries right to your doorstep. If your startup is in New York and you like to keep a stocked fridge with fresh food for your employees, look no further.

Seamless: Working late or don’t want to step outside in horrendous weather?  Seamless is an online food ordering service that brings lunch right to your doorstep.

Bluebottle: We and many startups we work with are not huge fans of some of the standard corporate office choices. Instead, we prefer drip coffee, specifically of the Single Source variety. The best choice for this in our opinion is Blue Bottle Coffee.

CDC Coffee: Refreshment distribution company. Recommended brews: Flavia/Alterra

Starbucks: An American coffee company and coffeehouse chain.

Bulk Purchasing

BestBuy:  An all encompassing electronics store that has just about everything a startup could need. Helps to get an account with the to avail of various discounts and points for your miscellaneous electronics.

Amazon Store: If you don’t want to get up from your chair to buy supplies or pretty much anything your office needs, Amazon store is the answer. They have occasional deals like Amazon Prime day which will help further prove your frugal characteristics to your investors.

Office Supplies

Staples: In regards to bulk office supplies, Staples provides a huge variety in every category that any office could possibly need.

​Quill: For competitive prices and a New York native office supply solution, try this supply store.

Looksharp: A job search site specifically for the intern level where you can find your ideal internship from their large database.

Indeed: Indeed provides millions of jobs to searches around the world, and lets you easily list job postings and find suitable talent

System/ Tech
Amazon S3
Standing for Simple Storage System, Amazon S3 provides developers and IT teams with secure, durable, and highly-scalable cloud storage; great for every startup.

Apple has long since been a provider for phones and other technical mediums for years. Whether it be a new iPhone or iMac, Apple products have been the standard for tech companies due to the low learning curves and myriad of exclusive programs available. Also critical to have an account here if you’re developing an iPhone or iPad application.

Adobe Creative Cloud
A must-have for every designer out there, the Adobe Creative Cloud contains essential design programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere that have been used in countless creative products that constantly shifts the design world we know today.  

This service exists to enable developers to build and run applications entirely in the cloud with easy in-built tools that save you from getting your hands dirty with devops or the like. Some products that Heroku provides out of the box Heroku Platform, Redis, Postgres, and many more. 

Engine Yard
This one is for all of the engineers developing critical Rail apps out there. This is a logical next jump from Heroku for hosting your Ruby on Rails applications.

GoDaddy is a reliable and affordable no-frills web hosting company. Use it as a one-stop-shop for your domains and simple websites. While it provides affordable WordPress and PHP hosting options, its in-house website creation templates are not the most aesthetic.  

DynDNS (Secondary DNS)
Great alternative to GoDaddy for cheap domains and some flexible options to manage sub domains and certificates.

This tool is key to analyzing exceptions in your code. As soon as any crash, exception or error is detected, an alert with detailed information about the error and suggestions to address the issue is sent to you.

Often considered to be every software engineer’s best friend. As one of the most popular code hosting platforms out there, Github brings people from all over the world to collaborate on millions of projects, and gives your startup a place to host and collaborate on your code securely. 

In regards to website monitoring, this platform makes it easy to track the uptime, downtime, and performance of websites.

Pivotal Tracker
This platform enables users to manage their projects, collaborate efficiently, and develop better projects. As an agile project management tool, it’s lightweight, easy to use, and our personal favorite for agile software development teams of 6 or less. For bigger teams and projects, JIRA does the trick.

All developers share the same knowledge that fixing bugs and performance issues are never fun to do. This program offers the very solution to that: A performance management solution that enables developers to fix these problems in real time.  An equivalent but more cost effective option is DataDog.

If your website or apps are slow due to excess data, this company specializes in making them faster by replicating, purging and provisioning content instantly.

Usability Hub
If you need instant user experience testers for your product, UsabilityHub is the place to go. With multiple tests such as the Five Second Test or Questions Test, UsabilityHub captures design feedback quickly and easily with these.

This proxy is really great for web developers who need to watch and manipulate network traffic for their AJAX applications. This free proxy provides a multitude of services including capturing performance data, manipulating browser behavior and traffic, simulating network traffic latency, and many more.

This program enables developers to test their website across various browsers on different operating systems and mobile devices without requiring users to install virtual machines, devices, or emulators; often the cause of a huge headache.

If you’re sending emails to hundreds or more, it can often get pretty overwhelming. This service is the one platform that your email desperately needs. Providing services like transactional delivery and email marketing campaign assistance, Sengrid provides world-class technology and personal attention from their experts.

Assuming your startup is using Rails, this is a useful tool. Railscast is designed for intermediate rail learners (although you can still get something out of it if you’re a beginner or expert) and is a website hosting various videos on tips and tricks to learning Rails as a developer. The screencasts are short and sweet specifically focusing on one technique so you can quickly move on to applying it to your own project. The Pro option to this contains more screencasts each week.

Ruby Gems:
This service is the Ruby community’s gem hosting site where you can instantly publish gems and install them. Easy to interact with and an invaluable tool for all Ruby developers out there. No wonder that an oft-quoted maxim in the RoR world is “There’s a Gem for that”.

Calico DeskStanding Desks have taken over the startup hub with its change of pace from sitting down for nine hours to being provided a whole array of positions. Our personal favorite is the Calico Designs 51230 Sierra Height Adjustable Desk that can be bought off of Amazon. Why do we love it? It’s the most sturdy, right sized instantly adjustable standing desk at less than $200.

Solano Labs:
This company provides powerful, scalable systems that increases efficiency and quality. For a software engineer, the services provided here truly are your best friend.

Test Flight:
As Apple’s own beta testing software, Test Flight allows developers to test their apps with a group of internal servers. This is an extremely valuable asset to developers since receiving feedback is critical to the design process before uploading to the App Store.

Communication is key for every startup, this cloud communications platform specializing specifically in this. This can include embedding messaging, voice, video, authentication in your apps with simple and powerful API, and other aspects that improve your communications on your platform significantly.  


Dropbox: As one of the most popular online file storage systems out there, it enables you to share and collaborate online better than any other file sharing solution. It has high limits on storage at low cost and constantly keeps getting better.

Gmail: A classic email platform that has been on the Internet since 2004, Gmail is a web-based email that provides users 1GB of free storage. When used as part of Google Apps for Work, it performs as a full service email solution eliminating the need for an email server like Microsoft Exchange.

Google Apps For WorkIf Google made an all encompassing product that provided every Google app that’s beneficial for businesses, it would be this one. Some of these apps includes Google Hangouts, Documents, Calendar, Forms, and many more, again eliminating the need for your business to maintain infrastructure to support these tools.

Microsoft Office Business Account: A true classic when it comes to online business products especially in the enterprise B2B world if you’re working with corporate clients. Sometimes Google Apps won’t load those crazy Excel macros.

Jive: As a large scale Cloud-based phone service, Jive works best for business-grade companies who want reliable, powerful, and economical hosted communication service.

Hipchat: If you’re looking for a group and video chat that works well for teams, Hipchat is definitely your fix. Designed to liberate working individuals from their desks, this system provides a variety of goodies such as video calling, screen and file sharing, and the security that every company craves.

GoToMyPc: If your employees need to work remotely, this tool enables easy remote access to your work computer anywhere and anytime.

Mapbox:  Mapbox is an open source mapping platform that lets you create beautiful custom designed maps. It’s a provider of maps for several huge companies such as Foursquare, Pinterest, Evernote, and the Financial Times.  We love the visual options it has over Google maps but is not ideal cost-wise if you have massive volumes.

Olark: Armed with incredible features including the knowledge of who’s visiting your website and where they’re looking, Olark is one of the most advanced and yet easy-to-use live chat systems available. A good way to get instant engagement with your site visitors.

Salesforce: The leading CRM platform that employees can access entirely over the Internet and truly prioritizes the customer by putting them at the center of everything that you do. Great benefits of using Salesforce include improvement in these areas: Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, Community, Analytics, Apps, and the IoT Cloud. For lighter alternatives, we recommend Pipedrive, Highrise and Base CRM.

Better Business Burea: You’ll need an account here if your startup is related to a traditional business that is tracked by the BBB. Hopefully you start and stay with that A+ rating.

Behance: As the leading online creative platform, Behance is great for discovering hidden and raw talent.  Use it to seek inspiration or find that visual designer your startup needs. Note that it’s known to have outlandish/experimental designs compared to the more level dribbble. 

MyFax: Fax machines have since gone and left with this new tool that let’s you send and receive faxes through multiple mediums such as phone, email, or the web.

Vistaprint: If you’re looking for customized and personally designed marketing material for your business, Vistaprint is a great solution. This company provides 100% customization in an array products such as business cards, posters, signs, stationery, and many more. The best part is when you sign up with them they send you a free pack of swag including a T-Shirt with your branding on it.

Vonage: Provides quality phone service for home, small business, and business phone systems. This is a good option if you plan to do a lot of international calling. 

TrelloThis platform enables you to visually collaborate with teammates on boards and other aspects of the creative process. This is an especially powerful product for designers since communicating visually is very effective and also provides a light way to get organized about any kind of project.

SlackThis is undoubtedly the tool of choice for office collaboration, replacing email, IM and file sharing tools.

SpotifyOne of the top music streaming platforms available, Spotify enables free access to millions of songs all on the tips of your fingers. Getting a company account can help if you like to play music in common areas. We found that many development teams at startups like to have this benefit.

Datadog: App Monitoring’s New Best Friend

In the previous post we discussed the basics of port/latency monitoring using AppBeat. In this post we will discuss full stack server monitoring using a tool called Datadog.
Datadog is one of the leading appli

cation performance monitoring SaaS tools. We will cover how to setup a monitoring agent on your servers and configure Datadog to display metrics, trigger alerts, and even integrate with twilio to send SMS when there is a problem with the server.


The first thing to do is to sign up for the Datadog service here. Once completed, you can integrate your server into their dashboard by running the Datadog monitoring agent on your server as follows:

  1. Integrate Datadog into applications it supports; you can see if your software is supported by Datadog here
  2. You can install their agent directly into your machine as root.
  3. You can run their monitoring agent inside a docker container.

It’s a cross-platform monitoring agent that works on both Linux and Windows and integrates over 100 services. The full list is available here.

Installing the Datadog agent on the server
The installation procedure is pretty simple, once you login to your server:

  1. Go to Agents under the Integrations panel or go to this link:
  2. Elect your operating system and follow the instructions on the page to install datadog agent on your server.

E.g. on my ubuntu machine I had to run the following command:
DD_API_KEY=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx bash -c “$(curl -L”

Once the agent is installed on your machine, go to the Datadog dashboard and see if any events appear on the event log.

You can find the default dashboard panel of your system at the bottom of the Dashboard List under the “Host Dashboards” section.

Open the host dashboard and you’ll see all sorts of metrics, for example :

Integrating Twilio into Datadog
Twilio is an telecommunications SaaS platform where your can send SMS and make calls like as you would on a  mobile phone.

To integrate Twilio, follow this tab path to get to the configurations tab:

  • Open Integrations under the Integrations panel on the side panel
  • Select “Webhooks”
  • Select the Configurations tab and scroll down to the bottom of the popup

To test if the Twilio integration is successful:

  • Go to the Events page and input @webhook-twilio into the event box.
  • Click post to trigger the webhook and if everything is configured correctly you should receive an SMS.1.

In order to proceed, you will need a Twilio Account SID and Auth Token which you can find under “Account Summary” on the Twilio Console.

  • Copy both and replace them with ACCOUNT_SID and AUTH_TOKEN in the following URL:

2. Following, construct this message in twilio API format.
“Body”:”Service seems to be down, check datadog portal”
*(XXX) XXX-XXXX is your phone number and (YYY) YYY-YYYY is the twilio number.

3. Copy & paste the message in the content payload and check the “encode as form” box

4. Add the URL listed above into the URL field and “update the configuration”.

5. Create a new monitor and select the metrics you want to monitor and when it asks  “What’s happening”, enter “@webhook-twilio” and save the monitor.

To test if the Twilio integration is successful, go to the Events page and input @webhook-twilio into the event box. Click post to trigger the webhook and if everything is configured correctly you should receive an SMS.

That covers how to monitor your app using Datadog and how to get notified. Note that the value you get out of Datadog is similar to what you would get by using a tool like New Relic which is a great tool, but comes with a premium price more suited for large corporations. For startups or others on a budget, Datadog could be your best friend.

Wearable future Tech Meetup recap

Wearable tech enthusiasts, pizza, beer, what could be better? On Tuesday May 24th , we had t

he pleasant opportunity to host a Wearable Tech Meetup at one of the most innovative spaces for entrepreneurs, the Samsung Accelerator. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the space, Samsung Accelerator “provides strategic capital, office space, operational and product support to seasoned entrepreneurs so they can build market-driven software and services.” We are thankful to Samsung Accelerator for letting us use their space and look forward to collaborating with them in the future.

This meetup was a panel discussion on The Wearable Future and it focused on the developmental process of the space and how it will develop within the next few years. With a focus towards the fashion/apparel side of things, the panel analyzed several devices including step trackers and smartwatches and their current domination in the market. They explored factors that currently limit the wearability design process including archaic battery technology due to short battery life and bulky attributes and furthermore talked about key marketing strategies behind selling a wearable tech product in its relation to the fashion industry.

Important key factors from the discussion included:

  • Wearable technology doesn’t exist for users to adapt to the product, but rather to improve and advance their current lives.
  • Similarly to other tech designers, wearable designers need to integrate the concept of longevity into their design process so that the intended product line can expand over time
  • The fact that although many mainstream fashion brands have expressed their desire to expand into wearable technology, the possibility of the product appearing to be too cheesy and cheap might devalue the brand as a whole.

Wearable topics and companies the panelists considered to the be leading the wearable tech industry today included:


  • Meta : Meta glasses are see-through wearable glasses, in which digital content is displayed as a dynamic layer over your actual physical surroundings
  • Carbon3d : Develops 3d printing solutions that integrates ideas of diverse perspectives and disciplines including software, hardware, and molecular science


  • Smart textile application in the military (for medical and other fields)
  • 3D printing of soles for shoes vs hand sewing/injection molding
  • Exo-skeleton development to increase physical capabilities

The panelists that we invited to the meetup not only have years in relevant experience, but are figures leading successful companies that are currently dominating in the industry. .

Nora Levinson, President & CEO at Caeden 
An experienced mechanical engineer and entrepreneur, Nora Levinson has been involved in the in the product design industry for several years.. After spending 5 years in China at several companies including Skullcandy and Jawbone, Levinson joined forces with her co-founder to create ADOPTED Inc and Caeden and still applies her management to both.

About Caeden
Technological pieces like the headphones and earphones have long since been standard within the industry. Although many companies have ventured into improving sound quality while at the same time improving the appearance, most of the time they would have to decrease the other in order to make it completely functional. Caeden however, was able to combine both elements equally delivering impeccable sound quality with a beautiful and refined finish. Their most recent release, the Sona, is a bracelet designed for performance. Connecting to the Caeden App, the Sona is an innovative wearable tech piece that takes performance bracelets to the next level by tracking your physical activity and building your resilience to stress.

Ryan Sherman, Founder & CEO at FUSAR
Ryan Sherman is doing what every little boy has dreamed of: 1: creating his own company, and (2: creating his own company in the exciting field of adventure sports. Note: change) With years of Product Engineering experience in a variety of companies, Sherman has brought with him the expertise and leadership he needed to start his own company, FUSAR, in August 2013.

In regards the actual company, FUSAR is the world’s first technology ecosystem for action sports. By connecting the tech industry to the action sports sphere, FUSAR believes they can encourage more connectivity from users and help with overall safety. The product’s selling point is simple: it provides multiple advantageous features while at the same time providing flexibility in that you can use any helmet with the product. The advanced features in which it provides includes: full action camera, activity tracking, unlimited-range communication*, navigation, music playback, black box, and emergency alert capabilities. There is also an accompanying app with features such as tracking and sharing rides, chatting with friends via their push-to-talk comms, emergency alert system, and real time photo and video sharing, this app really expands the boundaries of creating a holistic social media outlet for fellow junkie riders.

Meisha Brooks, Product Manager/ Mechanical Engineer at The Crated
Engineering and fashion are two categories not usually associated with one another. For Meisha Brooks however, both aspects have remain to this day in her life. Starting off her  career at Harvard for mechanical engineering, Brooks would proceed to build an impressive list of experiences covering various industries around mechanical engineering often switching between Japan and the United States. Following her position at Tradecraft as a Product Designer, Brooks then moved to The Crated, where she still works to this day.

About The Crated
Despite wearable technology focusing more on miniaturized computers on wrists these days, The Crated expands their perspective on wearable technology to even the clothes we wear. Positioning themselves as an innovation house, The Crated actively develops products, conducts proprietary research and provides insights to industry leaders with the hopes of making second generation wearable technology mainstream.

The event went over the planned time as the panelists had the audience under their wearable tech industry spell. To be part of our next meetup, join the New York Wearable Tech Meetup at ​