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How Not To Run Your Own Technology Startup

by Ian Smith of Captricity

This is not about running a startup badly, it’s about not doing the things that are not core to your business.  The world has changed a lot lately and just about every aspect of a technology company – and especially a web-based company – can be “moved out” to a web-based application provider at a lower cost than doing it yourself.

I came on board on Captricity at the beginning of September and I got to learn about a lot of these first hand.  I decided that making a list of these might help other people not run their own company.

Captricity isn’t endorsing these products in any way, nor am I.  These are just examples of various easily-available products that now can take away some bit of the pain that you used to feel when running a businesses or trying to improve an existing product;  all of these companies have competitors that offer different features, pricing, etc.  Your mileage may vary.

P.S. Three types of external providers are not mentioned because they are well known: open-source software stacks, domain name (DNS) providers, and marketing/social networking sites.

Real-time Communication (internal and external)

Hipchat – Intra-company chat with history (+mobile)

Skype – Inter-company chat and call

Free Conference Call – What else? Conference calling (we use this every day for ur 0945 meeting) – Screen sharing and conference calling

Collaborative working and file sharing

Google Apps – Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Word Processing, Spreadsheet, intra-company document  sharing (Captricity doesn’t use the presentation tool although it’s available)

Dropbox – Inter-company file sharing


Expensify – Expense processing (+mobile)

Algentis – HR (payroll, benefits, taxes, etc)

Quickbooks Online – Accounting

Recurly – Recurring billing from within our application

Workflow & Project Management

Trello – Planning for business development, design, some strategy work

Pivotal Tracker – Engineering planning, tracking, task assignments (+mobile)

Pager Duty – Rotating list of people “on duty: to get alerts on software failures, escalation policies

Rescue Time – Recording time spent on various activities (not used by Captricity for billing, just recording)

Analytics, Reporting and Research

Google Analytics – General reporting on web site usage, traffic, origin, etc

Scout – Monitoring of server clusters’ health (load usage, memory usage, etc)

Mixpanel – Reporting on fine-grain, “in-app” events such as “user clicked on this button”

Pingdom – External monitoring of our applications, “Can folks on the Internet see our applications correctly right now?”

Airbrake – Reporting errors/crashed on server cluster (This is Python-specific but there are other tools for other stacks).

Lead Generation and Contact Management

LinkedIn – Leveraging each person in the company’s network

WriteThat.Name – Automatic contact updating and management – Sales lead and sales pipeline management

Captricity – We use our own service to capture leads off paper sign-up forms set out at conferences

Marketing and Communications

Mailchimp – Mailing list management, especially for externally-visible lists

WordPress – Corporate website, blogging

YouTube/Vimeo – Demos of our software or website

Zendesk – User-facing discussions and first-level support about features of (and bugs in) our software

Unbounce – A/B testing of landing pages

Twitter – Share new blogposts and exciting news quickly, search who else is talking about us and respond to interested users.

Facebook – Create a page to share news and new features and engage with users

Mobile Application Management

Test Flight – Managing deployments and beta testers of iPhone apps in development

Hockeyapp – For collecting crash reports from mobile devices and distributing apps for some platforms

Backend Support

Amazon EC2 – Computing, server management, hosting

Amazon S3 – Long term, reliable storage

Github – Source code control, code change discussion (+mobile)

Paper Trail – Log acquisition, merging from multiple servers, and analysis


Ian Smith is Chief of Technical Staff at Captricity.





This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

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