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Ask HN: What are your go to SaaS products for startups/MVPs?
169 points by lbj 29 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 81 comments
Looking for some inspiration. Ive done a lot of MVPs/Early-stage apps over the years and I tend to lean on the same SaaS portfolio for mails, text gateways, payment etc, but Im sure Ive missed a few valuable additions.

Here's a few I use: Mails: Mailchimp / Mandrill Payment: Paylike Search: Algolia

If you're looking for market/competition research, I'd recommend https://coscout.com as well, for info about companies, funding, competitors, tech stack etc

It's in alpha right now, so you'll have to get in the waitlist, though they're only a few weeks away from launching AFAIK.

Full disclosure: A friend of mine is building this :)

Long term viability of SaaS solutions is definitely worth researching.

Is this something that's going to get acquired and be extinguished?

What are our switching costs?

How do we get our data in a format that can be: read into our data warehouse/lake and imported into an alternate service if necessary in the future?

How does Coscout compare to e.g. Crunchbase, PitchBook (Morningstar), YCharts, AngelList?

Looks interesting. I could be a paid customer, is there a way to get access to this?

Stackshare doesn't let me browse many pages without logging in, Pinterest style :( I checked some random tools, the content is a bit...thin.

Overall a good resource, I just wish they had deeper content

you can also find alternatives on https://hackerspad.net

Awesome resources, thanks a lot for sharing.

Yw, np

For PhotoStructure, I'm using

* GitHub and GitLab for private and public repos

* Just switched from GitLab CI to GitHub Actions (as self-hosted runners, especially on Windows, can be flaky)

* MailChimp (free tier)

* Drift for chat support (generous free tier)

* Braintree (similar functionality to Stripe, but also includes PayPal)

* Cloudflare proxying a Digital Ocean droplet running nginx serving a Hugo-built static website

* Sentry.io for error reporting (again, generous free tier, and open source)

* Twilio for an extremely cheap toll-free number

* G suite for email/docs

* Clerky for corporate setup

* Todoist for shared lists

Exiftool vendored is excellent thank you!

Mailchimp & Sendgrid for mail (I like MC for campaigns, but SG for API call driven messages).

Firebase for hosting/serverless funcs.

G Suite for collaboration.

Bitbucket for Repos (they had better enterprise-y tools for free, not sure if Github now is at parity).

Notion for task lists and product specs.

Stripe for payments.

Twilio for SMS.

Cloudflare for caching/DNS.

All in on AWS for BE. Just about everything you need is there for free or close to free. Netlify for FE hosting just because it’s so easy to tie up to Github. Retool for ops. Metabase for BI. Seed for Serverless CI/CD.

What backend are you using for Metabase? Any chance you are using the same backend for Retool? I'm thinking about doing this with Snowflake as a backend.

What kind of things are you doing in Retool for ops?

We're pretty new to it but anything and everything ops related is running through it with minimal effort –

* Lookup various account types and see all relationships

* Editing accounts

* Changing permissions and verifying accounts

* Uploading logos to S3

If you aren't familiar with it, take a look at their examples. You can do whatever you'd like with it.

For my one-woman-band projects I use:

Github for repos and static hosting Gandhi for domains S3 & Cloudfront for assets Fortrabbit or Digital Ocean also for hosting Runway for ML and hosted models Algolia for search Snipcart and Stripe for payments Trello for project management Whereby for client video calls Twilio for a phone number Google suite generally for admin and presentations etc Typeform for forms Waveapps for accounting

So, not a SaaS itself, but I am working on a JavaScript SaaS starter kit, if you're looking for another tool to have in your belt. Instead of writing all the common code (user authentication/management, subscriptions, build systems, design systems) for your app yourself, Nodewood (https://nodewood.com) starts you off with all that written by someone for whom it is the main focus, not a secondary one.

Perhaps closer to your original ask, here's the SaaS tools I tend to lean on:

- For hosting, I like Linode (https://www.linode.com/). Decent VPS prices and they keep increasing the value you get for the same price.

- For analytics, I like Clicky (https://clicky.com/). Less intrusive than Google Analytics and a simpler interface.

- For email, Mailgun (https://www.mailgun.com/pricing/). They're more focused on transactional email, not marketing email, which is a subtle difference, but can be worth it depending on what you're doing.

- Stripe (https://stripe.com/) is still king for payments. Their API sets the standard.

Metabase for data analysis. Admittedly not a service, but more than worth running a docker container yourself since it's FREE.

All my products mostly start with these list of essential services, but can do away with the free plans until the product grows.

* Github for repositories (Free) * Namecheap for DNS * Zoho for emails (free for 5 email accounts) * Mailgun for emails (1250 emails per month free) * Trello for project management (free) * Airbrake for error monitoring (7.5 errors per month free) * Tawk.to for customer support contact form (free) * Netlify for frontend hosting (free) * Cloudflare for CDN (free) * Hetzner for servers. (this is the only paid service :), but its only $2.70 per month for a 1Vcpu 2GB ram vps) * Paddle for payments (they take 5% cut which is very reasonable for the services they offer)

This stack pretty much allows me to just invest "time" into a project and get it out, before scaling it.

For https://calenduck.co (built with Django) we use:

https://dashboard.heroku.com/ for the infra

https://www.sendinblue.com for emails

https://sentry.io for error reporting

https://stripe.com for payments

https://papertrailapp.com/ for logging

https://slack.com (free) for chat

https://trello.com (free) for keeping track of things

Totaling at 14$ a month, it doesn't really get any cheaper

Highly recommend

- https://simpleanalytics.com -> Simple, clean, and privacy-friendly analytics

- https://wip.chat -> it's a community of makers who help each other ship products.

I've been an indie-hacker for a decade and personally the biggest win by a country mile is Heroku (platform as a service).

Even though I'd consider myself good with linux etc., I still love Heroku because it's a massive time and stress saver not to have to deal with most deployment issues myself.

Here’s what I use for my app https://songrender.com:

- DigitalOcean for servers/load balancer/database/object storage

- Netlify for the frontend and marketing site

- Cloudflare for CDN and DNS

- Stripe for payment processing

- Postmark for transactional emails

- Papertrail for logging

- Sentry for error tracking

- Fathom for analytics

- StatusCake for uptime monitoring

- GitLab for code hosting

- Trello for project management

Zoho One - One platform for all your business needs. CRM, Mail, Finance, Support, Marketing, HR, Office Suite, Chat, Project Management, Business Intelligence, Custom Solutions, etc.


NB: I work for Zoho.

Having used Zoho for 3 years, I can say that Zoho is nice because it's cheap, but you get what you pay for. It feels like the less-good version of G Suite in almost every way.

In https://getprobe.io (built in Ruby) we use:


https://www.mailgun.com for emails

https://rollbar.com for error reporting

https://stripe.com for payments

https://gsuite.google.com for email, calendar, sheets

https://slack.com (free) for chat

https://trello.com (free) for keeping track of things

Netlify/Vercel for static site hosting, intercom for chat, SendGrid for mail sending, Ably for pub/sub real-time messaging (yes I’m from ably.com!), paddle for subscriptions as opposed to stripe...

I’m a PM at a startup and have to quickly spin up integration mvps. I’ve found pipedream very handy! http://pipedream.com/

This looks like an exact clone of https://stdlib.com

I've used slides2video.com before to make explainer videos and walkthroughs straight from my Google Slides presentations. It can be a bit rough around the edges, but it works great.

I recommend my own self-hosted analytics tool (I know, right...), https://userTrack.net

It has everything you need to quickly iterate over your website (analytics, segments, heatmaps, session recordings and, coming soon: A/B tests). Privacy benefits aside, I think it's way faster to have everything in one dashboard instead of having to go to Google Analytics, than to Hotjar than to some other tool.

For https://stackprint.io I'm using:

* GitLab for private repositories and CI (free)

* GitHub for public repositories (free)

* AWS for serverless backend & frontend hosting (free so far)

* Notion for milestones, sprint planning and notes (free)

* MailChimp for email campaigns and CRM (free)

* Webflow for landing page & blog

* Docusaurus for documentation, in progress

* Plausible for analytics

* Office 365 for email and documents

* Stripe for payments

Any particular reason for separate Gitlab and GitHub?

I started out with GitLab for their free CI and multiple private repos before both was available on GitHub.

I'm mostly using GitHub to share code examples as people are just more familiar with it. With GitHubs current offering I might completely switch in the not too distant future.

I share all tools (and their costs) I use to run my SaaS publicly: https://tryhexadecimal.com/running-costs

Roughly speaking:

* AWS for servers/database/CDN (because I have credits)

* Netlify for static site hosting & forms

* Cloudflare for DNS/domains

* Fastmail for email

* Redis Cloud for managed Redis hosting

* Stripe for billing/payments/company incorporation

* Sentry for exception tracking

* Twilio for SMS notifications

* Sendgrid for transactional email

* Tarsnap for backups

I saw http://viable.fit/ on Twitter today!

You don't see a lot of purple web sites. Worth visiting just for that experience.

Stripe for payments, AWS Elastic Beanstalk for hosting/deployments.

Wish there was an even dumber alternative to Beanstalk. I've been tempted to build my own thing to get closer to my ideal of uploading a jar and forgetting about it.

(Raw javascript / vertx / postgres for actual development, but these aren't SaaS)

My experience with Beanstalk was much the same had the feeling of a lot of hacky Ruby, Python scripts thrown together. Logs in random place, sometimes would get "stuck"

Current project uses GCP App Engine "Flexible" which is easier and seems to be built on better foundations than Beanstalk. Build a docker image and run. Although like you we could skip the docker shenanigans and just need a JRE to run our uber .jar (distroless https://github.com/GoogleContainerTools/distroless/tree/mast... makes a basic JVM docker container easy)

This was a big reason why I switched over to Heroku. More expensive, for sure, but I'm so much more productive and don't have to worry about annoying config issues.

CapRover can accept any docker file (or a zip file with a .captain file). You can provision most databases and external self hosted services on a simple UI.

I self host it on a $5 droplet.

Well the pitch is certainly good. I'll look into it, thanks!

Beanstalk is cool. Just curious, in what ways could it be more simplified? I think we can already just upload our code and forget about it. It could be that I am missing something.

There's a lot of configuration, and not a lot of debug output. Simple things that should be defaults like HTTPS forwarding instead require a barely-documented ngnx patch. If something goes wrong before your app comes up, it doesn't tell you. Logs are spread across several files, most of them meaningless because they're details about the AWS-generated environment.

It does a good enough job of staying running once it's up though, so at least it's easy to forget why it was a pain to set up.

Dumber Beanstalk would be Heroku?

Hosting: DigitalOcean

Emails: Mailchimp (marketing), Sendgrid (transactional)

Development: Github, Bitbucket, Trello

Payments: Stripe (I've seen people try to cheap out on payments gateways, it's always a big, costly mistake. Choose a good one)

I have a question to people using things like CloudFlare, S3 etc. for early stage apps and MVP's: why?

Cloudflare = free/cheap global CDN, free worker, and free WAF.

Also: As a member of the Bandwidth Alliance, DigitalOcean waives egress fees to transfer data to Cloudflare, effectively creating a zero-cost data bridge from DigitalOcean to Cloudflare's global network.

For https://keycombiner.com I am using:

Development & Project management:

- GitLab

- Notion

- Sentry


- PythonAnywhere (Makes hosting a django application very simple!:))

- Cloudflare (Free tier already works great for caching purposes)


- Mailgun


- https://paddle.com/ (to handle sales tax on top of stripe)

For https://PerfBeacon.com I'm using:

- Chat window: Crisp

- Email Newsletter/Transactional: Mailgun/Mailchimp

- Payments: Stripe

- Hosting: AWS Lambda / API Gateway / CloudFront / S3

- Code: GitHub

- CI: CircleCI

- Task management: Trello

Hey, the end of your logo is clipped on Firefox:


I tried it with a totally clean Firefox and with Chromium (both Linux) - Chromium is fine, Firefox is clipped.

Question for the HN crowd - seems like people doing any sort of self promotion on these types of questions inevitably get downvoted. Is there a stated rule against it or is it just generally not appreciated?


> Don't solicit upvotes, comments, or submissions. Users should vote and comment when they run across something they find interesting—not for promotion.

There are some situations where a well crafted Ask or Show HN would qualify as self promotion. I'm not a moderator so I don't know how the rules are interpreted day to day.


Here is a list of apps we use to run our marketing team : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23154800

# GitHub and Bitbucket for private and public repos

# Sendgrid (mails and campaigns)

# Slack for team chats

# 2Checkout for payment

# GA for analytics

# Trello for team tasks

# G suite for email and drive

# Postman for automated API tests

# Datadog for monitoring and tracing

# SonarQube for code quality assessment

# AWS as cloud provider

# Microtica for automation and software delivery

Recent YC company that does SaaS reviews for startups: https://satchel.com

Not associated with them, but I found their comparisons helpful!

shameles plug - founder of myzel.io here - we're about to launch a platform that combines all the things you need as a startup in one platform.

As a simple example: Your startup is about tracking corona infections? You'll get the service built (no dev/design team needed), you'll get the services you need integrated (let's say kafka cluster, push notifications, analytics dashboard) and we host, monitor and scale it. All you need is an idea!

Love to see you all posting your favorite services. Following this

I see people signing up - unfortunately this is pre-mvp for until next monday. Happy if you reach out to chris@myzel.io for more info, pricing, etc.

https://www.revenuecat.com (YC S18)

API to manage In app subscriptions. I think it qualifies since it’s free up to 10K$ MTR.

Disclaimer: I work at RevenueCat, not in the mobile side of things although if I were to start a mobile app with subscriptions, after seeing how painful is to get it right, I for sure would use them.

Twilio, Datadog, Splunk, Zoom, Envoy, Lever, Slack, PagerDuty, Mode, JIRA, Box, Airtable, readme.io

This is the stack to run a startup with several engineers, not an MVP.

I know Datadog has the risk of being very expensive.

It is the modern world of SaaS. If your margins are not super hight you are out.

Datadog left a bad taste in my mouth (different story for a different time, but it's more of a business practice thing than the product), but they can charge what they want. My point is startups/MVPs need to watch costs, so Datadog's value prop may mean it's not be the best use of capital.

Did you mean high or tight?

Sorry, high.

Mailchimp, Firebase for hosting, GSuite for collaboration. Stripe for payments.

Postmark/Sendgrid for emails

Digital Ocean or Heroku for hosting

Skylight for application monitoring

Sentry for error tracking

Cloudflare for caching

S3 for storage

Any specific reason for S3 instead of Spaces given you’re on Digital Ocean already?

Not op, but for now spaces are lacking detailed stats, one example, if you want to build a saas and bill your users for the bandwidth consumed by their buckets you can't do that right now using spaces.

Auth0 for user sign up and authorization. AWS for everything else

Surprised not to see Zendesk here seems lots of people are using them...

A few weeks ago I heard of this tool called saasify (.sh),it aims at making the process of building SaaS faster. I haven't used it personally but I wonder if anyone reading the comments did and what are your thoughts? Is it worth getting into it?

- Logdna for logs - rsync.net for backups and S3 „gateway“

Twilio for international SMS and more GSM related stuff.

Twilio for calling and SMS as well.

- Discord (free) for chat

- sendinblue.com (free) for newsletter

- GSuite for emails

- OVH for hosting

My favourite stack at the moment for fast MVPs:

* Frontend with Angular deployed on Netlify on git push to the production branch

* AWS Lambda + API Gateway via Serverless and Nest.js for API endpoints

* Airtable API for recording data (under 1000 records = free)

* For larger database needs, I set up postgres, mongo, or I use DynamoDB

* SendGrid for transactional emails

* MailChimp for marketing emails

* Mollie for payments

* Matomo deployed on a DigitalOcean droplet for GDPR-proof analytics

* Zapier for all kinds of automated workflows

* Trello for project management

Give us a try if you need text to speech:


Heyo! I signed up, just a heads up that the verification email went to my spam folder. You may be able to somehow improve your reputation so they get through. I marked it 'not spam' to help, though!

Thanks for the heads-up! Really appreciate it.

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