6 of our favorite tools as an early stage startup

Minh Mai
October 18, 2021

It’s no doubt that all early stage startups face a mountain of tasks with limited hands on deck. This scrappy early phase then makes it especially important to find and take advantage of the right tools out there so your company can be equipped for success. As an early-stage startup, we’ve tried and tested out a number of these tools and came up with a list of our favorites. Here are 8 of these tools + some personal examples for why we love them: 

  1. Remotion 


Our team during our daily standup meeting. 


Remotion is a “virtual office that puts your hybrid team right on your desktop”. This video calling tool allows you to video call a coworker in less than 5 seconds, hop in and out of “coworking” or “watercooler” rooms that are set up, and generally see when other coworkers are online. This allows us to strike up a conversation or quickly chat about a problem that we’re facing without the need for a set meeting time.

Our team uses Remotion every morning for our daily standup meetings and then throughout the day if we want to quickly get feedback or get someone’s thoughts on a particular problem. It has become one of the best ways for our team to casually connect and mimic that serendipitous “office” environment. 

  1. Retool

Retool allows you to build internal tools, “remarkably fast”.  It connects to most databases and allows you to quickly build functionality within all aspects of your company. 


Retool’s example of an admin dashboard (Source).


We personally use Retool to quickly keep track and update customer information, process mail, and push updates to our website. We’ve also made personalized Dashboards for each of our mail partners that contain everything they need in order to properly process thousands of pieces of mail a month. They’re able to complete all of our customer requests for scanning, forwarding, and processing checks through these dashboards as well. 


Even for those who may not have a ton of design or engineering experience, Retool allows you to combine different resources, write code, and utilize pre-made building blocks (i.e forms, tables, buttons, s3 uploaders, etc) so you quickly build out all of your business operational needs. 


Especially as an early stage startup whose nature is to stay lean and rapidly iterate, Retool has been the perfect tool for us to keep pushing out updates without extensive engineering work. 


  1. Hiver

Hiver’s an email collaboration tool that integrates right with Gmail so you can manage and streamline all customer support questions and requests. Hiver works by using shared email accounts so you can assign ownership, write comments, add tags, and mark emails as “Pending” or “Closed” accordingly.  


Hiver's Gmail Plug-in allows you to assignee, add notes, and mark the email as "Pending" or "Closed".





We use Hiver for all of our customer support emails, and since it integrates directly with Gmail, there’s no need to integrate an entirely different email platform to our daily workflow. This allows us to quickly onboard any new team member, work directly out of our regular inbox, and view all emails that are assigned to us — no need for the typical CC-ed!. 


Hiver also lets you create “Templates” or “Snippets” for your email replies so you can quickly answer a frequently asked question or auto-assign emails based on defined rules so your team can save as much time as possible.


  1. Slack

Slack is a popular business communication platform and has become our backbone for all of our internal team’s back and forth. Slack also integrates well with other platforms such as Zapier, Stripe, Calendly, etc,  so status updates, alerts, and notifications can quickly be made visible. For example, we set up a channel that lets us know every time someone fills out our Typeform Feedback Survey. 


Typeform's Slack Integration.



Or to foster better connection outside of the common work banter, we have fun channels like #walkandphoto or #random where our team will share pictures from our walks or funny things that happen to us throughout the day.


Example of a team member posting in our #walk-and-photo channel.

In addition, we also use Slack’s Connect feature to set up shared channels with our customer base. This allows us to quickly communicate with our customers, notify them when new mail has arrived, and address any concerns or questions that they may have. It’s a great way to stay in touch with our customers, and this is an extremely applicable feature that can be used across all business functions: sales, marketing, business development, etc.


Tip: Add a SlackBot to welcome every new person that joins your channel! 


Overall, Slack is a robust messaging platform and when used to its full extent, can go way beyond just a messaging platform. 

  1. Zapier

Zapier is an automation tool that connects with over 3000 apps. 


At Stable, we use Zapier to automate a number of tasks that range from sending a Slack channel notification to the team every time we get a new customer to sending emails to our customers if they have received mail for an an unlisted recipient (We use Retool for this as well!).

How it looks in #onboarding every time we get a new subscription!


Zapier is incredibly powerful with the workflows you can automate, the apps you can connect to, and overall, it has helped our team save countless hours.

If you can automate any task, we’d highly recommend starting off with Zapier and seeing how quickly it is to build a new “Zap”. 


  1. Jira

Jira is an agile project management tool that we use to track and organize a significant portion of what our team is working on. Since you can set up different boards relating to different teams such as engineering, customer experience, business operations, etc, it’s become our platform to host and plan for all the work that we want to accomplish. 


Example of a project board (Source.) 


Every week we scope, plan, or track the “Tickets” we want to accomplish in our biweekly sprints. Within the sprints, we can then prioritize those that should be worked on as soon as possible and categorize them into swim lanes for each team member. Overall, it’s a great tool for tracking all the “Stories”, “Tasks”, and “Bugs” that need to be worked on. 


If you’d like, you can also assign story points which are “units of measure for expressing an estimate of the overall effort required to fully implement a product backlog item or any other piece of work”. Jira also allows you to analyze the number of story points that your team can typically accomplish within a sprint which allows you to better estimate and track your team’s velocity for future sprints.

Example of adding story points to a ticket,



There’s a ton of project management tools out there, but Jira has been our favorite by far.  


Conclusion 


These 6 tools have become the foundation for our early stage startup. From managing our team’s priorities to building out robust tools for our mail partners to utilize, these tools have all been simple to integrate yet powerful as we continue to grow.


If you have any other tools that you think should be added to the list, we’d love to know at hello@useStable.com.


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