It's been a little over a year since our first Hidden Gems article. It's one of our favorite articles to write because we get to highlight some of the most promising and powerful tools that only a few startups are currently using. These tools haven’t hit the mainstream, per se, but they have all markers of tools that should.
Here are our picks for this month!
The event driven email platform for product focused teams
What differentiates Australia-based Vero from other email marketing tools is that it enables engineering and marketing teams to collaborate efficiently and quickly to deploy email campaigns.
The idea is that more collaborative deployment will ultimately optimize personalization and the customer experience. The workflow begins with the engineering team; Vero integrates with the site’s real time event stream, which is the complete dataset of customer behavior on the site. This dataset is the foundation of both of the next steps in the workflow -modeling the data and then crafting effective the emails and automations using the data
The platform is customizable and powerful. Vero allows you to send transactional emails, newsletters, promotions and drip campaigns. All of your email campaigns can be automated and personalized with dynamic segmentation features.
Here's what Samar Birwadker, Founder & CEO of Good&Co thinks of using Vero:
"Vero is a great Australian company that we use for conditional emails. It’s a more sophisticated version of Mixpanel that allows you to trigger emails based on customer actions. It has worked really well for us, and we’re constantly loading it with more email lifecycle templates. It’s very specialized, and highly customizable. And though it’s not as easy to use as MailChimp, it is much more cost effective because you’re not billed on number of subscribers, you’re billed based on volume."
Users love the complexity and automation functionalities of Vero, although qualify that the platform is much more complex than MailChimp. We recommend Vero for startups that are very data-driven and have large enough userbases and site activity to benefit from the behavioral email & segmentation features of Vero.
Vero also has great customer support! Andrus Purde, Head of Marketing at Pipedrive says this about Vero:
"We use Vero for triggered emails, based on user actions and events. We like that we can tailor the emails based on what users have done or haven’t done, and the Vero team has been great at listening to, and accommodating, our feedback."
Vero Pricing: Vero's pricing starts at $99/month for 12,500 customers and 25,000 emails/month. They also have a Growth plan ($299/month), a Pro plan ($549/month), Scale ($749/month) and Enterprise ($1049/month) plans.
A developer friendly, API-first CMS
Contentful is a powerful CMS, best for larger startups that have full time tech talent. Alongside being a CMS, it’s also a content backend, content API and editor. Contentful is API first, meaning your content loads faster and across multiple platforms easily (they even cover smartwatches and in-car devices), while providing an excellent UX for your customers.
Justworks, a popular HR startup based in New York uses Contentful for their CMS. Here's what Justworks Founder & CEO, Isaac Oates says about the platform:
"We run our website on Contentful. We use it as a cross between a CMS and a custom build, with Contentful behind it all, and it’s been really great. Everything I hear from my team about Contentful is all thumbs up, and they’re really happy with it. It gives us a lot of flexibility with how things are presented, and it’s a simple system to manage. We used to use WordPress, and it was pretty awful."
You can assign custom roles, permissions, and validations to team members, making Contentful a great choice for larger teams and growing startups. Contentful users love the dashboard and the beautiful text editor.
While Contentful, like many sophisticated CMSs, can seem overwhelming to the non-technical among us, Contentful has an awesome, thorough FAQ section which covers everything from basic terminology to complex features.
While the complexity of the platform is a lot to take in at first, users love Contentful after trying the platform out. Brad Hargreaves, Founder & CEO of Common, recently updated his stacklist and said:
"We just rolled out Contentful. So far it has been really helpful. It is a CMS that developers can integrate with your site and is very easy to use for content managers.”
Contentful Pricing: Contentful has a free plan that is best for hobby projects & solo businesses, and then offers a Team Edition ($249/month), a Professional Edition ($1949/month) and an Enterprise Edition.
App development platform for teams
The Fabric platform is made of modular kits that help developers build apps, distribute their apps, understand their users, and grow their userbase, and more. One of the most popular kits among startups is Crashlytics. The Crashlytics kit monitors your app and alerts you if it crashes.
Another interesting kit is Answers, a mobile analytics SDK which provides thorough analytics in a beautiful dashboard view. Here's what Derric Gilling, Founder of Trove, says:
"They have a phenomenal dashboard view and high level analytics. Also, they have a very nice “Daily Dashboard” that we use regularly that reports certain metrics such as DAU, MAU, session length, # of crashes, etc. I like them because with Google Analytics or Mixpanel, the information is very buried, you have to go click certain cohorts or something in order to find it."
Fabric also offers partner kits, which will help you develop your mobile app faster: among them, Zendesk for customer service, Optimizely for A/B testing, and Appsee for user session recordings and heatmaps.
Earlier this year, Google acquired Fabric from Twitter.
Fabric Pricing: Free to use
A tool that we've heard a lot about lately is Airtable, a spreadsheet based project management and collaboration tool. Airtable is a combination of a spreadsheet and a database, making it easy to organize anything. The flexibility of the platform makes the tool as useful as a CRM as it is for a project management tool, an ATS, etc.
Wade Foster, Co-founder & CEO of Zapier, recently updated the Zapier Stacklist and added his feedback on using Airtable:
"We use Airtable because it's powerful and flexible, allowing us to spin up a database in just a few minutes. Nearly every team uses Airtable--to keep track of new app QA, plan for new feature launches, manage our editorial calendar, and more."
Using Airtable is as simple as using a spreadsheet. It's easy to organize data, track tasks, schedule due dates, link to other tables and attach files to your forms.
If you have teammates that don't like looking at spreadsheets, Airtable also has different views like a Calendar view, and a Gallery view to help visualize projects and forms.
Because Airtable is also a database, you can say goodbye to duplicate data entry. By linking records and tables together, you can pull in information from other tables to related cells.
Airtble Pricing: Airtable has a free plan that offers unlimited bases (spreadsheets), a Plus Plan ($12/month), a Pro Plan ($24/month), and an Enterprise plan.
Business Dashboard Software for Everyone
Klipfolio displays holistic views of just about anything going on in your startup! Klipfolio integrates with a variety of popular business tools like Moz, Recurly, Hubspot, Intercom and MailChimp to provide a complete (and intelligent) view of your business.
Because of all of the integrations Klipfolio offers, Stacklist startups love to use it for reporting, KPIs, analytics and more. Anne Kavanagh, Founder & CEO of Zera says:
"Klipfolio is really incredible--it's a dashboard that allows you to create insights into business, marketing, traffic and more. They have pre-built klips or, if they don’t have the ones you need, you can build your own."
It’s easy to build your own dashboard or work from several templates Klipfolio offers. Their large database of information and guidance to help their users get the most out of Klipfolio.
Klipfolio Pricing: Klipfolio starts at $19/month for 5 users and 5 dashboards
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