While Salesforce has cornered the market for post-Series A startups, it’s not a great fit for seed-stage companies, mostly because of its complexity and hefty price tag. Simply put, most seed-stage startups don’t need as much customization or have the volume of customers to justify the hassle and expenditure of Salesforce. For those, the Stacklist community recommends RelateIQ (now owned by Salesforce), Pipedrive, Highrise and Streak. 5% of our network has even created their own back-end CRM platform.
RelateIQ is a real crowd-pleaser—very affordable, with a simple user interface and advanced integration capabilities. Says Mattan Griffel, Founder and CEO of One Month, “RelateIQ is very simple, but powerful enough to do what we want it to do. It has great integration with email, so we can put people into it through email, see information about them, and update information within an email. They're supported by Salesforce, so I know they're going to be around for a while.” Griffel’s one complaint, however, is that “It's a little bit restrictive in terms of how you can do certain things.” Thomson Nguyen, Founder and CEO of Framed Data explains, “We chose RelateIQ as our CRM, as it seemed lightweight and uses machine learning to intelligently qualify our leads. It was actually a lot harder to set up than expected, but after the initial hurdle, I do recommend it.”
Pipedriveis a very affordable option, and “awesome for salespeople,” says Matt Minoff of Selectable Media, while Highriseis another popular choice among seed-stage companies, largely for its ease of use. “It’s extremely easy to use and set up,” says Conrad Egusa, founder and CEO of Publicize,” and Victor Wong, co-founder of PaperG, agrees that the tool is “Highrise was super lightweight and took no training,” which makes ideal for early startups.
Finally, Streak, though fairly light in terms of tracking opportunities and sales analytics, does offer a “great integration with Google Apps, and updates records automatically. It’s gotten us through years 1-5 very well,” says Matthew Raimundo of Ticketmaster Mobile Studio. Early-stage companies are primarily looking to implement a simple, affordable CRM system that doesn’t require much, if any, overhead management.
While these CRM tools don’t provide the level of customization and all the bells and whistles that later-stage companies typically desire, they are quality, more affordable alternatives that give seed-stage companies the foundation they need to develop sales processes and a strong pipeline that will serve them well as they grow their business.