We run Toky with the best possible tools we can afford with our budget.
For a LATAM startup, we are more well funded than most startups in their early days, but again, this is completely relative and you can say we are running on pocket money compared to startups in America or Europe.
I like to think this situation makes us more efficient in terms of resource consumption. We can't simply spend money on the first thing that seems like a good idea. We have to analyze everything, find out if it is worth paying for or doing it ourselves, or if we can live without having it.
Working with this mindset has led us to find a way to run Toky with less than 200 USD a month in services, and here's how we are doing it:
We used to pay for GitHub but we quickly realized we were paying for the looks and not for what's inside. We couldn't afford that so we moved every repository we had to Bitbucket in half a day.
Not free but self hosted and extremely important for us. It helps us track bugs and keep our team updated with the development. Very affordable and complete, although not so pretty or intuitive.
Cost: 10 USD/month
We use it in the annual plan as our main email hosting provider. The best thing you can get out of Google Apps is the series of tools that come within the package: Docs, Drive and Calendar.
Cost: 12 USD/month
Really good and complete. We use it as a secondary mail server for our toky.co domain. It's very reliable, secure and free for up to 10 accounts.
The initial reason we started using Groove was because of the awesome blog the founder has. In general, it's a customer support system based on great email handling with a very straightforward interface. I can say I'm happy with the product and that I will pay when the trial ends.
Cost: 30 USD/month
If your tech team is good enough I'm sure they can setup Linux boxes from scratch and have a web/database server running without the help of a configuration panel. If this is true for you, Digital Ocean is a great and very affordable option.
We use it for development and production in a distributed scenario. We have small instances doing little tasks each, but combined, they form a powerful set of servers.
Cost: 80 USD/month
They made us addict to the product. We use it do discuss everything, share ideas and basically, to keep us in sync. We are on the free plan so far.
Toky for Business
Yeah, you probably expected this one on the list, but being a founder aside, Toky is really helpful because it provides three fundamental things to us:
A phone system: we all need this. We need phone numbers and we need to sound professional when customers call us. Putting your personal phone number in your company's web site is free, but has (bad) consequences in the image you project.
An internal communication tool: If I wanted to speak to anyone in my team, I'd do only 2 clicks without even needing to leave my browser.
A unified sales channel: People showing interest in what we do simply call us whether they are checking Toky on our website, or in our Facebook page. It's really convenient to have our phone system integrated this way.
Our current setup of 4 agents, 1 US toll free number, 1 Mexican number and 1 Argentinean number, gives us a total of:
Cost: 52 USD/month
It's a free tool to monitor social activity based on the conditions you want. For example: you can setup listeners hearing what people are saying about the keywords you have chosen. It can be really helpful to find leads or to see what people are saying about your brand or competitors.
We use it to notify our users about promotions and announcements. We are doing fine with the free plan since we only use it with users that are subscribed to a business account. This number is still within the free plan limits so we don’t need yet to pay for an upgrade.
We are going to keep adding tools as necessity increases, but so far, we are doing quite well with these.
Learning not to spend money only because you have it can be a really good thing to learn. Having a financial crisis is still the #1 reason for startup mortality, so trying to avoid it with little savings like this, can make the difference between life and death in the long run.