Remote Operations

Our 10 favorite tools for early-stage startups (+ why we love them)

June 3, 2024
Minh Mai

The early stage at every startup is an exciting ride: You’re creating something new, defining and redefining boundaries as you grow. 

It’s also a risky time. Law professor Elizabeth Pollman estimates that, at a minimum, 75% of startups will fail — one of the reasons being internal team problems.

The right tools can be the difference between success and failure for entrepreneurs: good-fit tools help resolve team issues, drastically increase efficiency, and set the stage for future growth. Below, we’re breaking down how to choose the right tools for your startup and highlighting our top 10 picks.

How to select the right tools for your startup

Before implementing any new tool, take time to assess your business needs — because not every good tool is a good choice for your business. As you evaluate tools, make the following considerations.

Consider how the functionality supports business processes

First, look for substance more than flash. Your startup needs tools that easily fit into existing processes rather than require any wheel-reinventing. 

For example, consider where and how your people work. Working from home is core to today’s startup experience (and even small changes can improve the WFH experience). Given the prevalence of remote and hybrid work among early-stage startups, every tool needs to work well for distributed teams.

Asses your startup’s growth potential

Next, take an honest look at your growth potential and evaluate whether a tool will work well right now and will scale effectively as you grow.

Connecting with the right people is one key to maximizing growth potential, and another is attracting and keeping the right talent (sometimes through the use of unconventional benefits and perks in those early stages). However, the wrong tech tools can actually hinder that growth, forcing your business to disrupt major processes later on to swap in a different tool.

Look for tools that integrate with one another

Last, make sure the tools you settle on can communicate with each other. Pick your top two or three tools and platforms, then check their integrations pages. If they don’t integrate with the tools you’re already using (or those that you plan to use), you may want to go back to the drawing board. Tools that don’t integrate and share information can result in time wasted flipping between applications, doubling up on work, and a higher risk of human error when pulling information between tools manually.

Our 10 favorite startup tools

Below is a shortlist of our favorite tools, but isn’t exhaustive. The best startup tools will vary from business to business, and ultimately it’s up to the business owner which tools belong in their business’s toolbelt.

‍1. Multi

Formerly called Remotion, Multi started out as a “virtual office that puts your hybrid team right on your desktop” and has evolved into a user-friendly collaboration platform. It’s designed to make building apps and software more seamless, more like a true “multiplayer” experience where engineers work together in real time. 

The video conferencing portion of this tool allows you to video call a coworker in less than five seconds. It’s perfect for quick, unscheduled check-ins, and if you’re frequently walking through code or conducting live code reviews, even better: Multi may be the best productivity tool out there for this kind of work.

Our team uses Multi 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 an essential tool for team communication, enabling our team members to casually connect and mimic that serendipitous “office” environment. 

Unique features

  • Shared cursors and drawing
  • Work across screen shares from up to 10 people simultaneously
  • Custom audio and video upgrades for better crispness and latency
  • Countless keyboard commands and customizable shortcuts

Multi has a free pricing tier that allows up to eight participants to collaborate in sessions up to 90 minutes. The full Multi experience is $30 per seat per month.

2. Retool

‍Retool is a SaaS tool that enables startup teams 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 of 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 to properly process thousands of pieces of mail a month.

Retool allows users to combine different resources, write code, and utilize pre-made building blocks (i.e., forms, tables, buttons, s3 uploaders, etc.). It’s been the perfect tool for us to keep pushing out updates without extensive engineering work, which is especially important to us as an early stage startup whose nature is to stay lean and rapidly iterate.

Unique features

  • Fast way to build internal software
  • Version control with Git
  • Powerful debug tools

Retool Team costs $10/month per standard user plus $5/month per end user. The Business plan bumps those numbers to $50 and $15.

3. Hiver

Hiver is an email collaboration tool that integrates 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 assign, add notes, and mark the email as "Pending" or "Closed."

We use Hiver for all of our customer support emails. Its integrations allow 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 setup! 

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

Unique features

  • Unique email collaboration mode (includes Guest Access)
  • Collision alerts
  • Automated, conditional assignments (e.g., automatically route finance-related emails to finance specialists)
  • Numerous AI-powered features, including a conversation closing tool, suggested email templates, and context sharing

Hiver offers three plans: Lite (two shared email inboxes) is $19/user/month; Pro (five shared email inboxes) is $49/user/month; Elite (unlimited) is $79/user/month. 

4. Slack

Slack is a popular business communication tool and has become the backbone for all of our internal team’s back and forth. Slack also integrates well with other platforms such as Zapier, Stripe, Calendly, Google Drive, Salesforce, 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.

To foster better connection outside of the common work banter, we also 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.

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 proactively address any concerns. 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 who 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. 

Unique features

  • Collaborative spaces for creating and sharing documents
  • Audio and video meetings of all sorts (1:1, group, +external guests)
  • Workflow Builder and numerous integrations allow for automation across your tech stack
  • Slack Connect for communicating with customers or external partners in a channel context

Slack has an impressive free tier, though it’s limited to one workspace and only 90 days of messaging history. The Pro plan is $8.75/user/month, while the Business+ plan is $15/user/month. Slack AI features carry additional costs. Custom enterprise pricing is also available.

5. Zapier

Zapier is an automation tool that connects with over 6,000 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 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 and the apps you can connect with it. Overall, it has helped our team save countless hours. 

Unique features

  • Zaps allow you to build workflows and automations between apps that may not have their own integrations.
  • Build custom automation-driven apps.
  • Automate databases and tables.

‍Zapier pricing is task-based. Plans start at $19.99 or $69 per month, and you can exceed your monthly allotment of tasks for an additional cost per task.

6. 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 for planning 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 and categorize those tickets into swim lanes for each team member. Overall, it’s an intuitive tool for tracking all the “Stories,” “Tasks,” and “Bugs” that need to be worked on. 

You can also assign story points, and Jira also allows you to analyze the number of story points that your team can typically accomplish within a sprint. This data allows you to better estimate and track your team’s velocity for future sprints.

Example of adding story points to a ticket

In our own workflows, Jira is by far our favorite project management tool.  

Unique features

  • Extremely flexible interface allows you to customize your experience to meet your needs
  • Advanced project management planning geared toward software teams
  • Tools for connecting go-to-market and software teams
  • Detailed task management, dependency management, and goal tracking

Jira offers two paid plans with variable pricing depending on how many users you have. For businesses with 25 users, Standard is $8.15/user/month and Premium is $16. There’s also custom enterprise pricing.

7. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing and automations platforms. It helps businesses increase their marketing efficiency and effectiveness at scale using marketing automation over both email and SMS marketing.

Mailchimp has plenty to offer, including audience management, social media marketing tools, a vast library of professionally designed templates, deep analytics tools, and much more. 

One of the most powerful elements is the way Mailchimp can segment your audience based on various data points. For example, Mailchimp can use AI to determine the likelihood a customer will buy again, then help you customize your marketing strategy to different audiences.

Unique features

  • Advanced segmentation using logic (buying behavior, engagement, predicted segments)
  • Generative AI tools assist in creating on-brand content
  • Powerful advanced analytics and reporting

Mailchimp pricing varies based on the number of contacts you’re reaching, along with how many emails you send per month. The smallest plan costs $20 and includes 6,000 monthly emails and 500 contacts.

8. Canva

Leave Photoshop and Illustrator to the pros: Canva is a design tool for the rest of us!

With Canva, businesses and teams can create a wide range of high-quality assets quickly and easily using a drag-and-drop interface, even without significant graphic design experience or art skill.

In Canva, you can create pretty much anything visual: documents, whiteboards, PDFs, graphs and charts, marketing materials, and even physical printed goods like business cards and hoodies. It’s all in the cloud, so collaboration within teams is easy, too. Canva even has a presentation mode that gives PowerPoint a run for its money!

Unique features

  • Marketing Brand Kit that establishes fonts, brand colors, templates, logos, and more to keep your assets on brand
  • Advanced collaboration and asset management
  • Built-in design approval workflows

You can explore nearly the entire Canva ecosystem in the free version, but you’ll quickly run into feature limits or premium assets that are off limits until you upgrade. Canva Pro costs $120/year for an individual, while Canva Teams is $100/person/year, with a three-person minimum.

9. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management and analytics platform that helps brands get real, measurable results from their social media marketing. It’s perfect for designing, scheduling, and then publishing content across multiple social media platforms. It integrates well with Canva and supports approval workflows so you can get the right people checking off the right posts every time.

Automated scheduled posting means no more manual posts on multiple sites — with Hootsuite, you create it, schedule it, and let Hootsuite do the rest.

Unique features

  • Publishing and scheduling tools for up to 20 social media accounts
  • Powerful metrics and analytics for social media posts
  • Social listening
  • Calculates “Best times to post” on each network 

Hootsuite Team costs $249 per month and includes three users and up to 20 accounts. One-person marketing teams can save by choosing the $99/month Professional plan.

10. Stable

Last up is Stable, our startup-friendly virtual address and virtual mailbox service

Early-stage startups can benefit from a virtual mailbox service like Stable because it provides them with a professional mailing address in some of the best cities for startups, like Austin, San Francisco, and Miami. This alone delivers a level of brand prowess even if you aren’t living and working in those markets (yet). 

Stable can also streamline your mail handling by scanning your mail and making it available in our online portal. You decide which mail gets forwarded to your real location, which gets stored digitally, and which gets destroyed and deleted. 

Unique features

  • Virtual address in a prestigious business hub city
  • Virtual mailbox for managing your mail and packages from anywhere
  • Registered agent service to help you set up shop in new states
  • High-volume mailroom to streamline your operations
  • One-click check deposits and deposit automation

Complete your toolbox with a virtual address and mailbox

Your startup was founded on a unique idea or product, something that only you can deliver in quite the way that you do. But scaling that initial vision takes a whole different kind of work — work that must be powered by the right tools.

Stable is one of those tools that can help you thrive and scale. Our robust virtual mail solution provides you with a prestigious business address and trustworthy, consistent mail handling. In fact, our protocols are stringent enough to make us one of the few virtual mailbox providers to be both HIPAA- and SOC-2-compliant. We also offer the option to add a registered agent in any state.

Learn more on how Stable is the right choice for virtual address for startups.

Get 50% off your first year with Stable

Get a special discount on our virtual address + mailroom sent to your inbox
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
A virtual address + mailroom for businesses
Learn More

Get 50% off our Grow plan

Get a special discount on our virtual address + mailroom sent to your inbox
Thank you! We'll email you soon with the referral code.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.