10 services to consider when starting a SaaS business

I wrote this piece for InformationWeek.

Last year, we saw an opportunity in designing an app for marketing and creative teams, as most of them currently use a general purpose collaboration tool. We wanted to help them grow their business by making it easy to plan, organize and track all their digital marketing projects in one place. With this objective, we set out to build Brightpod.

We planned the design and the features that would be included into the minimum viable product. In addition, we made a list of tools that we would use to help us power-up the app — hosting, marketing, customer engagement, analytics etc. So, while the team was busy developing Brightpod I started trying out a dozen or so tools. I was looking at a set of tools that not only allowed my team members to do their job well, but also which they loved using.

Here are 10 services you should consider when starting a SaaS business:

1. Cloud Hosting: Instead of paying huge upfront fees on a dedicated server why not sign up for Rackspace Cloud or Amazon EC2 and pay on-demand. I prefer Rackspace Cloud as they have a “managed” option where their team will help you set up and monitor your servers, load balancers, cloud databases etc. This frees up your time to focus on your business — build software and engage with customers.

2. Beanstalk App: This is where your code lives. Beanstalk allows designers and developers to store source code, track changes, and collaborate with their team through Git, Subversion and Mercurial version control systems. Wonder how companies update their apps on a daily basis and roll back if something goes wrong? Well, a tool like Beanstalk will allow your team to do just that.

3. KISSMetrics: This will help you analyze how people use your app and how they convert to paying customers. As software designers we build features but seldom analyze how popular it is. A tool like KISSMetrics will easily tell you which features are most popular and who is using them.

Read the rest of the article on InformationWeek.