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Tools we use for running our startup (balsamiq.com)
198 points by BvS 2702 days ago | hide | past | web | 31 comments | favorite

Peldi keeps impressing us with his carefully written and useful articles. I have followed his blog since he released his product and I am convinced he is a great role model for bootstrapped entrepreneurs. The thing I am most grateful for is that Peldi actually took the time to document the whole process all the way back when he still was working at Adobe and secretly planning to start his own business. Just go back to his blog and check all the postings from 2008.. a great story. Good work and thanks for sharing how do you do run a great company!

I'd love to know the monthly cost for using all of those hosted tools. Sounds very expensive.

Good question, let me try to answer. I'm doing this out of memory so some might be wrong: - DropBox is $99 a year for 50Gig - we get Confluence hosted for free because we're a successful Atlassian plugin developer - I forget how much Last.fm is but I think it's very cheap, plus the free version is plenty good enough - I think we're paying about $250/month for Slicehost right now - a SkypeIn number is $60/year I think - we're spending $34/month for Freshbooks - we're spending $49/month for GetSatisfaction because we signed up at the very beginning (they had an offer) - E-Junkie is $10/month - Paypal pro is $30/month (I think) - Spreedly is $19/month

That's pretty much it! What does it add up to? In general, I can tell you that it's a very small percentage of our expenses (salaries is where our $$ goes)...in a way we can't afford NOT to use these tools.

Depending on what you're doing, you can definitely save money and get similar service with Linode:


Basically, with Slicehost, you are paying to have 64 bit pointers - without that, the price difference isn't that big.

Never change a running system!

I would never change my hosting company if I would be fully satisfied and I would only be saving 100$ a month.

+1 for WriteRoom. I write all of my blog posts there and then migrate them over to Wordpress. I wrote most of our initial business plan in WriteRoom as well. The biggest lesson: formatting is a distraction. Worry about it only after you've got content.

Generally I'm also a big fan of full-screen things -- I live and die by my full-screen, light-colored-on-black Emacs.app.

One observation: Mellel (see www.redlers.com ; the keyboard shortcut from within Mellel is command-option-s) can do the same thing, but also has tons of other features as well.

Considering how much love WriteRoom gets for full-screen editing, I'm surprised Redlers doesn't crow more about this feature.

I haven't upgraded my mac to snow leopard yet. Main reason is I'd like to know - do they have a way of getting a smooth, full-screen console on it yet? On leopard iTerm works. (You used to be able to get a plugin to make normal terminal do it, but this broke in leopard)

"Enough said."

No, not really.

I don't get the use of this phrase. It feels smug, as if there's some special understanding that everyone is just supposed to "get", or else you're just not with it.

Either say something, or don't, but please don't play coy in telling me that you're not going to tell me something.

Hi there Peldi here from Balsamiq. You know, you're totally right. I wasn't happy about how it came out either. Using it was a lazy move. Let me go back and expand it.

Thanks; now I understand the reason. Before, it felt as if you gave them out because they were "cool" or "hip" or something, and that's now clearly not the case.

Also, thanks for spilling the beans on what you use, and why. Gives some useful perspective.

You're really good at customer service.

Maybe that's how he started with $10,000 and built a $800,000 company in only 10 months. Dude's like a customer service (and marketing) machine.

I argued with a friend the other day that his success was just a perfect storm of such things as "great idea", "great implementation", "lucky timing", and a few other things.

But on reflection, and talking it out, we came to the conclusion that his obsessive attention to customer service and business transparency where the true multiplier that basically got him to the freedom line in less than a year instead of the 5 years it should have taken him.

In this case, I get the impression that it's a toy/perk that you get just for the heck of it, not that it really plays an important part in running things.

He mentions using Typinator. Does anyone know how it compares to TextExpander or TypeIt4Me?

I've used TextExpander and Typinator. I'm currently using Typinator because it seems to perform better. I remember I was getting some freeze ups with TE a couple years back (don't know if that's still the case).

Nice to see him recommend and praise GetSatisfaction and showing that although they've received quite a beating recently, 37signals/etc, there are customers out there that actually find them useful.

Thanks for the post. I don't have a job so this is how I find out what people in the industry use, and what's tried and true.

Also pickledonion's articles was how I moved from hosting on an xp home box to Linux.

Interesting sets of tools. I have one recommendation though...check out Grooveshark instead of Last.fm and let me know what you think :)

Lala.com is pretty good too.

That's quite a comprehensive list. Cool to see Screenr on there in addition to Screenflow.

Have you tried Google Quick Search Box? (http://code.google.com/p/qsb-mac/) It does all the same things as Quicksilver, but has always seemed snappier to me.

I would love to know why there seems to be such variation in QSB performance. It has been nothing but a dog-slow pile of fail for me and everyone else I know who has tried it, but apparently it works just fine for some people. Quicksilver was always fast for me and now that it is no longer being maintained I have found LaunchBar to be a nice alternative if you don't mind paying a couple of bucks.

Agreed. On Leopard QSB was much faster than spotlight. However, when I upgraded to Snow Leopard, it got 10x slower. Funny thing though... Spotlight got significantly faster. So I'm not using just Spotlight.

That's odd. It runs just fine for me on Snow Leopard. I still miss Gnome Do + Docky on Linux, though. It's the one instance where an open source Linux app outdoes anything UX- and design-wise on OS X.

Also, if you don't mind paying for stuff, Launchbar is the shit.

Great write up and list, thanks for sharing, very interested Typinator. I might have to check that out soon.

We use a lot of the same tools. We ended up going with Presently over Yammer, but I bet we would be happy with either. It has been a great way to keep a remote team on the same page.

"very interested Typinator. I might have to check that out soon."

This is the program I've always wanted but didn't realize I want. I already bought it.

Interesting tools, Typinator looks very nice.

For me, a very simple tool: iTunes

good music = less stress, relaxed mind, hit those milestones.

laugh if you wish.....

What tools do you use?






Can you see the attraction to one-size-fits-all solutions as opposed to the bewildering panoply witnessed above?

Sure, if someone was able to make all those tools as well as the start ups. Half of those things IBM or Microsoft doesn't even have a product for.

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