How to Choose A Tech Stack For SaaS Development?
In order to choose the perfect SaaS stack that would give us the most value for money, we started by making a list of all the software tools we were using and would be using in the future.
Here are the factors to look for while choosing the best SaaS stack.
Cost is the most important criterion especially when you are stretched thin with the budgets.
Ask: Does the tool offer credits as part of a plan? If yes, can we get any deals or discounts?
Putting together a simple yet efficient SaaS stack that requires a lower learning curve is better than going for a top-of-the-line but complex stack.
This directly affects the productivity of your team.
- Ease of use
How easy is it to begin using the tool? How much time does it take for us to get up and running?
Today there are many low/no-code tools that can cut deployment time by a huge margin and be used right from the get go.
Quick and easy setup is important so that you can focus on actually building your product, rather than spending time on instrumentation.
- Flexibility and lock-in conditions
We love monthly billing with a discount offered for an annual commitment.
You need to choose a vendor/tool that can give you a solid foundation and business continuity for the future without forcing you into a worrisome lock-in.
The tools you add to your SaaS stack should work well with the other tools in your stack.
A prime example of this for OSlash is the integration among our analytics and emailing tools. We use Segment and Mixpanel to collect customer data and insights which are then fed into our email client, Customer.io, almost effortlessly.
Best SaaS Stack 2022 - A Complete List
In line with our vision of building a culture of absolute transparency at every workplace, we want to share the entire OSlash SaaS stack (as of June 2022) with you.
We were lucky to procure some of the tools listed below at great discounts (and even for free in some cases).
Here is the complete list of our SaaS tools, split into different functions.
Or: Find the TL;DR version here
Disclaimer: This article does not prescribe or recommend the tools listed below for use by you and your team. Please make sure you do your own research and select tools that best fit the needs of your company. We only intend to provide you with the list of tools we are using and share why we decided to use them.
SaaS Stack for Product and Engineering
Figma: We chose Figma for all things design because it is one of the easiest design tools to pick up and offers live collaboration. We use it for everything from wireframing, UI creation, and illustrating, to prototyping, and shipping to the dev team. Even the free version comes with unlimited personal files and unlimited collaborators — a huge asset to any startup.
Storybook: Storybook is open source and forever free. We prefer Storybook at OSlash for UI development because it lets us build UI components in isolation without setting up any development stack and without needing any data or API.
Algolia: Algolia is a search and discovery platform. We use it to build a consistent and personalized search experience for OSlash users. Eligible startups can claim $10,000 in credits via their startup program.
Github Enterprise Cloud: We chose Github as our all-in-one tool for code management, version control, code review, documentation, team collaboration, and project management. We were able to secure 40 seats of Github Enterprise cloud worth $24000 for free via the Microsoft Startup Program.
Visual Studio: It offers an open source IDE (Integrated Development Environment) with hundreds of programming languages and a free code editor. We got a Visual Studio license worth $5400 for free via the Microsoft Startup Program.
There are a number of cost-saving Visual Studio subscriptions available today. They come with added benefits such as access to GitHub Enterprise, Power BI Pro, Azure DevOps, Dev/test software, monthly Azure credits, and professional training and support from providers including LinkedIn Learning.
Sentry: Sentry is a crash reporting application we use to streamline error-reporting and fix performance issues in both the frontend and backend of our software. It works across iOS, Android, and Web. Its USP is real time insights and context for faster resolution. It is free for tracking up to 5,000 events per month. For standardized error and performance monitoring, you can opt for their Business plan which costs $80 per month.
Rainforest: It is a combined platform for both manual and automated QA or software testing. Since it is a no-code platform, it allows even the non-technical product folks on our team to contribute easily to better quality software. Their Professional plan starts at $0/month and offers you free no-code test automation (worth 5 hours every month) plus on-demand manual testing (free trial for 14 days).
LambdaTest: This tool lets you perform automated and live testing across Windows and Mac operating systems, along with all legacy and latest browsers.You can simultaneously use it for testing your website or web app on mobile browsers for both Android and iOS operating systems. They have a 60 min/month Freemium Plan while unlimited testing starts at $15/month.
For infrastructure tools, we suggest you space out your activation of accounts. It will give you enough room to experiment with every infrastructure provider out there.
Amazon Web Services (AWS): AWS is perhaps the most well-known cloud platform worldwide. It boasts over 200 on-demand cloud services such as computing power, database storage, content delivery, etc. for organizations.
Eligible startups get up to $100,000 in AWS credits by signing up for AWS Activate. In addition, there are hundreds of free-tier offers — trial, 12 months free, and always free — for everything from computing to analytics, IoT, machine learning and more. You can also get volume based discounts and realize important savings for selected services as your usage increases.
We received AWS credits worth $105,000 via SaaSBOOMi, the largest network of SaaS Companies in India, and $5000 via YC Startup School.
Microsoft Azure Services: Azure’s cloud platform also comes with over 200 services and attractive pricing options for companies of all sizes. Microsoft also claims that AWS is 5 times more expensive than Azure for Windows Server and SQL Server. It offers over 25 services for free, forever and comes with a $200 credit on each new account where you can try popular services for free for the first 12 months.
SaaSBOOMi helped us get Azure credits worth $150,000 while starting out.
Heroku: The main advantage of Heroku over other cloud platforms is its simplicity and ease of deployment. Heroku offers you a ready-to-use environment which is more beginner-friendly and can be easier for startups with small teams as compared to AWS. The YC Startup School helped us get $20,000 in credits for the tool.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP): Google offers anyone wishing to explore its cloud platform $300 in credits and over 20 free services. We use GCP extensively for our AI and ML needs as well, in addition to infrastructure hosting. A direct application to GCP for Startups also helped us secure $20,000 in credits.
Digital Ocean: This tool is known for simplifying the process of deploying servers to the cloud. Their USP is clean and simple UI, API, and Docs as opposed to GCP and AWS which can be quite overwhelming for small teams. We got credits worth $10,000 for Digital Ocean via the YC Startup School.
SaaS Stack for Project Management
Linear: We moved from Jira to a swift developer ticketing tool Linear, which comes with a generous free version. The free version has no limit on the number of users (huge plus point for startup teams) even though you can track only up to 250 issues at a time. We like Linear because of its (extremely) fast speed and lean UI.
Notion: We use Notion extensively for roadmap planning and keep all our PRDs in it. It also doubles up as the company wiki for storing and sharing important information. You can easily get ‘Notion for Startups’ with $1000 of free credits if you are part of one of their partner accelerators or VC firms. If not, you can get the same offer by purchasing a Notion plan at Product Hunt Founder’s Club. ($1,000 worth of credit via Founder’s Club)
SaaS Stack for Website Development & Optimization
Webflow: We chose Webflow for developing the OSlash website because of its low/no-code platform which is intuitive and easy to learn. Its in-built SEO capabilities are also a great add-on. For as low as $16/month, you can get a custom domain to host your startup’s own fully-functional CMS powered website.
Google Analytics: Our go-to tool for website data analytics, the free version of Google Analytics offers everything a small business or startup needs. You can analyze all website data for a volume of up to 10 million hits per month (which is fairly decent) and integrate it with Search Console, AdSense, and Adwords too.
Ubersuggest: Ubersuggest is an all-in-one content management tool that helps us out with website audits, keyword research and ideas, backlinks data, content ideas, and more. One of the few SaaS tools on the list that comes with a lifetime pricing, it offers a steep 90% discount as compared to the likes of Ahrefs, Moz, and Semrush. We found a lifetime price of $120 for managing up to 3 websites too good to resist and recently added the tool to our SaaS stack.
SaaS Stack for Marketing
Customer.io: At $150 a month, this email tool may be a little pricey for early-stage startups. However, it has simplified our marketing team’s lives by helping us automate and schedule transactional emails, workflows, as well as broadcast emails without hassle. And it integrates nicely with our marketing tech stack including Segment, which is a huge bonus.
Canva: If your team does not have a dedicated graphic designer, Canva can be a great design tool to churn out social media posts, blog graphics, email graphics, promotional website banners, and other web-assets without much hassle. It is completely no-code, is super easy to learn, offers thousands of templates & free design assets, and you can collaborate on designs in real-time. As you expand and wish to publish designs directly to social media or create approval workflows for designs, you can consider upgrading plans.
SaaS Stack for Sales and Customer Success
Airtable: We started out by managing all our customer interactions and CRM activities in Airtable’s powerful spreadsheets, having received $2,000 worth of credit via “The Secret”.
Freshsales: Freshsales is a CRM that offers all basic functionalities for free — you can use it for maintaining and managing the accounts of your customers, track lifecycle stages of contacts, and service them using built-in chat, email, and phone support. Ideal to get started when you have a low volume of contacts and accounts to manage.
Freshsales is a product from Freshworks, a business software behemoth that also boasts a popular startup program. As a part of the program, eligible startups can receive up to $10000 in credits on the Pro plans for various Freshworks’ software, along with access to their mentorship platform, FORGE.
HubSpot: For teams just beginning with their CRM efforts, HubSpot’s free CRM tool is also a great risk-free choice. Plus the tool lets you prospect, collect forms, create tickets, manage ads, and run automations on customer data from a single dashboard. As you build up your sales and marketing efforts, you can upgrade plans or switch to another CRM.
Intercom: We use Intercom for customer support at OSlash because of its ease of use. If you have a website and an app, Intercom will let you easily integrate them both and quickly respond to customer issues or bugs via emails or in-app messages. Its Early Stage Academy offers eligible early-stage startups advanced Intercom features at a 95% discount.
Typeform: We are fans of Typeform’s beautiful designs and intuitive UI. We use it extensively at OSlash to create and manage forms for customer surveys and user feedback etc. Their startup program will let you avail 50% discount for 6 months on any plan.
SaaS Stack for HR, Finance, and Accounting
Freshteam: Our HR and TA cannot imagine working without the simplicity Freshteam has lent to our hiring and employee management verticals. Its LinkedIn integration lets us post new job openings on the go, and we can manage email applications in a shared inbox directly inside the tool. The free version is quite limited but may be a good starting point for early-stage companies.
Stripe: When it comes to processing subscription payments in USD, especially for clients located in the US and Europe, Stripe provides one of the simplest platforms in the industry. Chargebee is another great alternative to consider.
Quickbooks: Quickbooks pretty much boasts a monopoly in bookkeeping software. You can get started with basic bookkeeping for as low as $12.50 per month and even add their payroll software to the bundle for creating an all-in-one economical accounting package for your company. They offer a free trial for 30 days and 50% discount if you commit to using the tool for 3 months right away.
Razorpay Payroll: The biggest advantages of using RazorpayX Payroll for us have been automated compliances in matters of taxation and other statutory filings related to payroll at no extra costs. The portal is self-serve, which means your employees can also mark attendances, apply for leaves, claim reimbursements, and access their payslips — all from one software. You can do all this for less than $1.5/month in India. By being part of the Razorpay Rize platform, you can also avail 3 months free payroll.
SaaS Stack for Analytics & Data Science
A key takeaway before building your data and analytics tech stack is: The lesser the data you process, the lesser the expenditure you incur. You should use these tools judiciously to process only the necessary and relevant product/user data in your data pipeline. This has the twin benefits of not violating privacy concerns and keeping your data processing costs low.
Mixpanel: We started using Mixpanel for gaining top-level product insights. Their free plan offers insights for upto 100,000 tracked users per month. Eligible startups can also get $50,000 in credits towards the Mixpanel Growth plan for one year.
Segment: We use Segment to collect events and feed product usage data into various other tools such as Mixpanel, BigQuery, and Customer.io to name a few. You can get 10 seats and track upto 1000 users a month for free. SaasBOOMi helped us obtain credits worth $50,000 for Segment. And they also have a startup program that offers eligible startups $25,000 in annual credit toward their monthly Team plan.
Power BI Pro: Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Platform, Power BI Pro lets you easily collaborate on and share data visualizations within and outside your company so that you can use these insights to take better decisions together. We applied to the Microsoft Startup Program and got a Power BI Pro License worth $2340 through the same.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP)/BigQuery: GCP helps us with our AI and ML efforts by allowing us to create data insights and APIs. You can get $100,000 in credits across GCP services via Google’s Startup Program. Within the GCP, BigQuery forms the basis for creating our data science models. BigQuery charges for data storage, streaming inserts, and querying data, but loading and exporting data are free of charge. It offers a pay-as-you-go model costing $5 per TB where the first terabyte (1 TB) per month is free.
Team Collaboration and Communication
Slack: Slack is fast becoming the default way to communicate and collaborate within and across teams. It has a free tier and the Pro plans are also quite affordable even for early stage companies. We wrote to Slack’s Sales team requesting free licenses as an early-stage startup and they were kind enough to offer them to us.
Loom: Since a good part of our team is remote, we need async communication tools to work better. Loom helps us share video messages complete with screen recordings and has become the default way of reporting bugs and customer issues within the team. We use the free plan as it meets our everyday needs with limits of up to 25 videos/person and up to 5 mins/video.
OSlash: OSlash uses OSlash so much that it has become our way of life, something we did not expect while dogfooding the product in the initial days. The team creates Workspace shortcuts extensively to keep everyone in loop about important updates. And we also like using Private shortcuts to manage all our personal links seamlessly. Oh, did we mention OSlash is free for small teams of up to 5 users?
Calendly: Scheduling one-on-one meetings without indulging in back and forth regarding availability — this is the primary reason we use Calendly at OSlash. We mostly use it in individual capacity (for free) as opposed to getting the entire team onto the tool.
Zoom: o/allhands and o/daily-standup are just two of the most-widely used Zoom shortcuts in our company. Zoom is terrific for virtual meetings with remote or distributed teams. The audio and video quality is great even on the free plan and the attendee limit of 100 users per meeting is what most early-stage startups can easily live with.
Google Workspace: Google's G Suite is incredibly affordable at $5/user/month for the basic plan. An office suite, an email client, file sharing, video meetings (Google Meet) and other collaboration features such as Drive and Chat are included.
Miro: Miro’s free whiteboarding tool offers our dev team the priceless ability to collaborate with potentially unlimited team members (even if the number of editable boards is limited to three). It also offers all important integrations such as with Zoom, Slack, Zapier, Google Drive, Figma and more for faster workflows.
SaaS Stack for IT, Compliance, and Security
1Password: We use 1Password for securing and sharing passwords within internal teams. If you purchase a plan for your team via the “Founders Club’, you can get $2000 in credits or six months free.
JAMF: Since we all use Macs at OSlash, we decided to adopt JAMF for device management and enforcing key security requirements such as password locks and hardware encryption. Basic plans start at $4/user and let you manage up to three devices for free as well.
List of startup programs that offer discounts
Now that our SaaS stack is public, we would also like to share with you the list of startup programs that offer great deals and discounts on these (and many other) software tools.
We hope they will make it easier (and cheaper) for you to set up your own SaaS stack.