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We’re creating a “Startup toolbox”. What apps should go in it? (thestartupfoundry.com)
81 points by g0atbutt on Feb 10, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 63 comments

A few that I swear by:

github http://github.com for source control and wikis

sendgrid http://sendgrid.com or Amazon SES for email

mogotest http://mogotest.com for browser testing

recurly http://recurly.com for managing recurring payments

tender http://tenderapp.com for support / help desk

linode http://linode.com for hosting or Amazon EC2

mocksup http://mocksup.com for quick and easy mockups

clicky http://getclicky.com for analytics

zerigo http://www.zerigo.com for dns and monitoring

AWS http://aws.amazon.com S3, EC2, and everything else :)

Geckoboard: http://www.geckoboard.com/ --- "a hosted, real-time status board serving up the indicators that matter to you."

Freshbooks: http://www.freshbooks.com/ --- "painless billing"

Linode: http://www.linode.com/ --- "Deploy and Manage Linux Virtual Servers in the Linode Cloud. Get a server running in minutes with your choice of Linux distro, resources, and node location."

Hard to imagine why someone creating a traditional Ruby-based web app wouldn't start with Heroku.


Why MediaTemple specifically? Is there something they provide more/better than other hosts to make them so much more popular among webdevs and creatives? I've tried to figure out how people justify their higher price relative to other hosts like Dreamhost on the simple hosting end to VPS.net on the hither end...

I'd really be interested in any insight any MediaTemple users have!

Edit: I should mention that I recently purchased a domain from MediaTemple because currently you can registe one .com for $5. Otherwise, though, I'm currently using Dreamhost for site hosting and my other domain registrations. I'd really like to know what more they truly offer for hosting!

I use mediatemple.

My setup is the mediatemple for client projects and a linode vps for my own personal playground

I like them because they are like an entry level honda to, for comparison, say the Rolls Royce of one of the more expensive Rackspace plans.

I don't know if anyone else has used rackspace but I had a client who did once. You pay them something like $2000 - $4000 a month but everytime you call them you instantly get a person on the phone that can get you to someone who can help you fix your problem.

With mediatemple you have to deal with a machine answering and wait 5 or 10 minutes but you only pay $200 for the whole year. And the service and knowledge of the support people is comparable.

They also have a great control panel with all of the standard dns configuration, 1 click app installation, administrative stuff.

Long story short they have plenty of things that automate the tedious setup process of building a site and pretty good customer service.

Though I would agree for the more tech savvy go for the free Amazon ec2 instance and scale up from there or invest in a vps with linode or slicehost.

If you have any specific questions feel free to ask. I know my answer was really general

Thanks for responding! I do have a couple questions. What type of site are you running on your MediaTemple account? If just a standard website or blog, why MediaTemple over, say, Dreamhost? I would personally compare Dreamhost to a honda and MediaTemple to a Rolls Royce when thinking of hosting, say, a design blog, but that would be solely based on price. For just standard hosting, $97 can get you a year's hosting at Dreamhost or many other similar hosting companies. Do you have any idea what they offer to make it worth double that for basic hosting?

Thanks again for your time and for replying!

You're welcome!

and phone support is about the only difference as far as I can tell.

Its nice to be able to call someone

I was wondering the same thing. I've used Linode in the past and been very happy, but I also feel like I have a lot to learn when it comes to "proper" server administration. Does MediaTemple alleviate any of that (ala Heroku)? Or is it just another VPS host with a good reputation?

I'm genuinely curious!

I know that MediaTemple is very cozy with the design community. Other than that, I can't glean much from their web site that would separate them from other hosting providers. I am curious for any insight on this as well!

After taking a look at them, the only thing I could find that set them apart was cost... They're _much_ more expensive...

I think they tend to pride themselves on their service (which is pretty good I guess.. the tech people you talk to at least seem to know what they're talking about), and they emphasize their scalability. I'm not sure if those things justify the price, but I guess some people think so.

That's all I've figured out myself. Too bad no MediaTemple users have commented ... I'd honestly like to know what keeps people using them at their price!

MongoHQ: http://mongohq.com/

If anyone wants to work with MongoDB (nosql database) it's a lot easier to let them handle the details instead of adding it to your already huge list of things you need to do, know, learn etc. They have free databases you can mess around with, and their paid ones are a lot cheaper than getting more vps's/dedicateds/cloud instances - these guys save me time, headaches and money.

BizSpark: http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/

Free MS software for 3 years including Windows, Visual Studio, SQL Server etc. Generous terms when your 3 years are up.

DNSPark: http://dnspark.net/

Very cheap DNS, I use them at Playtomic which millions of people hit each day. They have generous query limits - $14/year for 5 million queries/month should well and truly cover most startups - and if like me that's closer to "a day" then a month they're still yet to implement overage charges.

Pingdom: http://www.pingdom.com/

Uptime and latency monitoring for your servers. I'm still only using their free plan which is a mistake on my part - I just haven't had time to get it all set up properly and have the data piped into my own dashboard but it is on my to do list.

High Scalability: http://highscalability.com/

Not a service, but an awesome blog that you should read if you are dealing with big numbers or big data, or aspiring to. They're one of the few out-of-my-industry blogs I actually go to without coming through HN.

Web Hosting Talk: http://webhostingtalk.com/

If you're not excited about being billed per hour, per request and per gigabyte for storage and bandwidth in teh cloudz then you can get awesome deals on all levels of hosting there, esp good for dedicateds and vps.

Fusion Charts: http://www.fusioncharts.com/

I don't use them anymore but they have a great library of free Flash charts you can use. AMCharts (http://www.amcharts.com/) is another one that I still use but only for their world maps.

Some of the tools we're using ourselves:

Team collaboration: http://www.flowdock.com/ No matter what are the other tools you're using, Flowdock keeps your team organized and up-to-date. Google Wave done right.

Version control: http://www.github.com/

Agile project management: http://www.pivotaltracker.com/

Customer feedback: http://www.uservoice.com/

Service monitoring: http://www.pingdom.com/

Scalable database: http://www.mongodb.org/

Programming languages: JavaScript, Ruby, Scala

Everyone in the company is using an OS X desktop, and our servers (hosted in several places) are powered by Ubuntu Linux and Chef (systems management).

If you recommend MediaTemple add a disclaimer to stay away from (gs). Their dv service is alright, but gs has terrible performance. I tweeted a few weeks ago that I was switching away from MT (gs) and their twitter support DM'd me admitting that gs "sucks" as they tried to sell me on their DV package.

I'm sure many people here would recommend Linode, Slicehost, or Heroku as competent alternatives.

Ouch ... They actually DMed you to confirm your thoughts on (gs)? They tried to sell me on (gs) in a DM message the other day! That's bad...

Greets! -- spell out those acronyms, please. If we are trying to educate people on services etc... dont assume they know what everything means.

The acronyms are how Media Temple refers to their different hosting packages. A look at their website reveals (gs) = grid service, (dv) = dedicated virtual.

Personally, I have worked on one site that was hosted on a (dv) server with Media Temple (for three months.. I was only filling in), and had nothing but good experiences with them.

Their prices are definitely high though, so I don't know if I'd call them exactly startup-friendly. I wasn't the one paying for the site I worked with, but if I had to pay for it myself, I'd probably look elsewhere.

Dropbox, Github, Pivotal Tracker, Balsamiq

domain: godaddy.com ($7.67 with promo code)

hosting and db: google app engine (free)

mail: google apps (free)

support: get satisfaction (free)

blog: tumblr (free)

graphics: gimp (free)

analytics: google analytics (free)

:this is what I use for all my projects: http://shaloc.com, http://checkinmania.com, http://misotrendy.com

more at http://initlabs.com

Excellent suggestions. The awesomeness of App Engine should not be under estimated. It makes running a web app extremely easy and painless (and free, at first).

It has some gaps though depending on what you're going to use it for. For example, its sending/receiving to/from custom domains is quite limited.

To fix that I've used: -To send emails from a custom domain: SendGrid.com -To receive emails sent to a custom domain: CloudMailin.net

For buying domain names, I've switched from GoDaddy to name.com, just to get away from the awfulness that is GoDaddy's UI.

TrueCrypt + DropBox = protect your data from almost anything.

I've been using this for programming, it has been working flawlessly. And DropBox is the only system so far that handles my 1GB file without choking, and does so quickly enough that a day's changes (and the repo changes) only take a few minutes to scan and upload.

The Hacker's Diet: http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/

If you don't take care of yourself, nothing else in your toolbox matters.

Not only that, but it's good practice for the methodology you should be using when developing your product. Constantly measure and keep track of your results so you can see what's working and what isn't. Keep track of trends and don't overreact to short term changes.

There's an awesome collection of startup tools here:


Pretty much everything listed here: http://steveblank.com/tools-and-blogs-for-entrepreneurs/

unfuddle.com ... free git/svn hosting and ticketing.

domaintools - domain monitor for stalking that domain that you absolutely have to have http://www.domaintools.com/monitor/

Surveys: http://surveymonkey.com/

I'm currently using the free plan for a handful of projects and it's awesome.

In the same line our own survey startup http://www.impressity.com is another free survey option. The surveys are 100% free without limitation. You can set 10 survey questions to private, and the remaining will be public. We welcome any feedback, and hope this can contribute to HN community.


Visual Website Optimizer http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/ for A/B testing


> Mockups: Photoshop (or Pixelmator for really tight budgets)

Only thing with Pixelmator is it's Mac only (unless I missed fine print somewhere). You might not have Macs laying around if you're on a really tight budget. Gimp might be good to throw out there since it's free and works on multiple platforms.

I use http://mocksup.com for mockups, clickable and connectable.

Codebase: http://codebasehq.com for Git/Subversion/Mercurial hosting, tickets, wikis, time tracking etc. Cheaper and more flexible than Github (though I also love Github for public projects). And they have a new version out in Q1

With a Codebasehq account also comes a free deployhq account. You commit changes to your git-branch and deployhq will ssh into your production server and update the code. Extra commands (e.g. rake db:migrate) can also be executed. It's basically like Capistrano but as-a-service, but easier to set up (and less versatile probably, but I haven't come across anything I couldn't do).

They're also working on Deliverhq, basically transactional email delivery like Sendgrid.

Infrastructure: github, heroku, linode, dropbox

Team: skype, google voice, googleApps,

Development: stackoverflow

Customer Understanding: clicky

http://getsatisfaction.com is a great way to get feedback from users on your startup. Easy to manage and free for the feedback widget. I have not tried to pay for features yet.

That's an interesting app. I've heard good things about it but I've never used it myself. How often do you use it?

We use it all the time during our closed alpha. Provides a quick and simple way to have users ask questions, provide new ideas, and offer feedback. Allows admins to comment back and answer any questions so its pretty engaging.

mixpanel: for specific analytics and metrics

yammer: to communicate with your teammates

gomockingbird.com easy way to create mockups browser based

amazon ec2/s3 for hosting

Goplan for project management: http://goplanapp.com

(Disclaimer: I work on the app - we'll also cut a deal for the toolbox if it moves forward)

IndexTank: http://indextank.com Full-text indexing & search service (realtime, incl. free options, geo/faceting).

Those two have not been mentioned yet:

Hosted SVN/Git: http://www.assembla.com/ -> I prefer it over Github.

Real Browser Website Monitoring: http://www.alertfox.com/free-website-monitoring/ -> Once you have your web app running, make sure it really works.

We have been using both for more than a year now. Great services! Both over free plans, too.

I've created a Collaborative Task Manager, http://managewith.us which allows remote members of a team to manage a list of tasks, seeing updates in real-time (a bit like Etherpad).

There's a free version, but I'd be happy to give your readers a discount on the Pro and Enterprise packages (they are relatively affordable anyway).

If you're interested drop me an email, which is info@ the domain above :-)


If you're in any way technical, why would you go MediaTemple (or other VPS provider) and not Amazon EC2? With the new micro instances, Amazon is very competitive on the low end, and they've got configurations to scale up to the highest volumes. I think as far as features go, they're miles ahead of the competition, but feel like there's something I must be missing.

For the bootstrapping budget startups:

bitbucket.org --> Free private repositories

amazon ec2 --> Free usage tier for a year

uservoice --> basic functionality is free

Lots of great stuff mentioned, but here's some I didn't see:


Password Management: http://passpack.com/

Stickers: http://www.stickermule.com/ :-)

For web design/mockup work, Fireworks is way more suitable than Photoshop. It's also a lot cheaper.

Google Apps, Dropbox, Evernote, LAMP, VIM, Google (learn the advanced search operators)

http://Uservoice.com: feedback box

This isn't so much as a toolbox item but a must read I think http://nvie.com/posts/a-successful-git-branching-model/

Hoptoad: http://hoptoadapp.com

Exception notification, mainly ruby but has an easy to implement API. Plugins available for many other frameworks afaik.

My http://startupdeathclock.com is great for cheering yourself up.

Only to be used in the week after you close a round!

My web app at poplytics.com helps website owners collect feedback. Would love for it to be included. Currently free

I and my cofounder are starting our beta team, and we are considering using your app to gather and manage feedback. Seems interesting, though we just started researching today. Will give feedback tomorrow.

Am i not getting a reply for my post. I case we you were wondering we are a competitor to kamplye and kissinsights

Plimus.com for easy billing/recurrent billing

Recurly or Chargify for recurring payments.


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DropBox, GitHub, Basecamp, Balsamiq, vi, DynaDot, Linode, Gmail, Twitter, Gimp

+1 for Dynadot, forgot to mention them earlier. I don't really think of them much but I've used them for years.


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