Optimizely is very good. We haven’t used it to its full potential yet because our digital marketing person is only part time, but it’s been a very good tool for easy testing that requires no incremental development time (we also only have one developer).
Mixpanel is very powerful, but doesn’t come with anything right out of the box, so you have to do all the configuration on your end. Don’t underestimate that – it’s taken us a couple of months to get right, but we’re there now and their sales funnel tools are very helpful. Mixpanel is really optimized for a logged-in user scenario, to show you how users are moving through your product, so we’re not their optimal user because we’re not primarily a web product and we don’t have logged-in accounts. But we chose it because I’d heard great general things about it being helpful, and I knew it provided funnel data in a way that Google Analytics struggles to do, so I saw it as complementary.
If you're trying to build a big business, you need an enterprise-grade CRM platform. There are a lot of emerging CRM providers out there, but since we had a clean state to do this right, we decided we wanted everyone adopting Salesforce from day one, rather than setting ourselves up for high switching costs down the line. It is much easier to start with the product you think you're going to grow into, rather than switch later on.
We had been using Braintree, but we switched to Stripe because its integrations are super-slick and it offers a great user experience for the customer. Stripe has done a great job of branding and differentiating itself; it’s very sexy for the developer community, and there are little usability functions in the consumer workflow that make it a nice tool. However, to me it’s just a commodity and there are some aspects I’m not thrilled about. I don’t think implementation has been dramatically easier than Braintree, nor the backend administration of processing refunds and transactions. It’s also missing some basic functionality; with Braintree and Paychex, which we had used before, you would receive a daily settlement email with your bookings, refunds and net sales for the day. Stripe doesn’t do that, so I have to be in the app tracking our daily totals much more closely, or use a third-party app (Control, which works on top of Stripe) to get that information. I would also strongly recommend that you negotiate Stripe’s fees. In the fine print, we realized we had been overpaying, and renegotiated our rates.
They’re great for what we’re currently using them for. We haven’t tried to go enterprise with them, so I don’t know how they would hold up in that situation. I know we are going to need to implement a real marketing automation tool in 2016, but today we’re just hacking together Mailchimp and Salesforce.
I’m not satisfied with Google Drive. Document management on Google Drive is not great compared to the integration on Dropbox, but the switching costs to get everyone off of Drive is preventing us from changing things. And there’s no escaping it--the Google ecosystem just keeps you more and more enclosed. As a result, my files have never been more disorganized than they are right now.
BackOps has really come through for us, and I can’t imagine not having them. Their platform integrates with QuickBooks, Expensify, etc., and they do all of our financial statement production--they take all of our data (payroll, expense, revenue) and turn it into P&L balance sheets. There’s some heavy lifting required on our end to get all that data together and structure it in the right way to get to that point, so I have to have someone senior on my side to be their partner. They did require a lot of setup time, in terms of having them take over all your bills, understand your financial statements and understand your business. That was a painful few months, but now it makes managing my accounts payable incredibly easy.
They’re a startup themselves, which comes with pros and cons. From a customer service perspective, they’ve been very engaged and committed to making things work. I appreciate the effort, but they don’t have a fully developed feature set yet. On the benefits side, they’ve been great, but if you have complex payroll needs, like managing both full-time and hourly workers, you should know that upfront. That’s been our challenge with them. That said, when I do have challenges, I can just talk to Justworks about what I need, and they’ll go ahead and build it. So the question you need to ask yourself is, is the flexibility of a startup, and their commitment to customer service and to continued product development, stronger or weaker than going with a more established service like ADP that has a richer feature set, but no continued evolution in terms of product features? If you’re a straightforward startup with pretty basic payroll and benefits needs, I think Justworks is probably very good. If you have a nontraditional scenario, then you’ll want to look carefully into their features before getting started.
I appreciate the team collaboration aspect of this tool, and the fact that it efficiently distributes your job applications across a number of different channels. It’s not the most elegant software, but we’re happy to have it. We’re hiring 10 people/month, and we just found a recruiter who will build a hiring workflow in Jazz, which will be very helpful.
We love Slack. The only thing I don’t love is that, until you pay, they cap your archive-accessible messages at 10,000 messages, which is really inconsistent with the values of our eco-system. They're literally holding your data hostage. There are lots of other well-established freemium models out there that they could be using. Slack is the darling of the tech world at the moment, and I think that’s really whitewashed what is fundamentally a dark conversion tactic.
Pivotal Tracker is relatively new for us and we haven't fully used it because we only have one developer, but we definitely like it. The developer uses Pivotal Tracker to track his tasks, but the rest of the team uses Asana.