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SaaS tools we use to run Convas

SaaS tools we use to run Convas
Helena Ahlström
Helena Ahlström

Convas is a SaaS company and we use a bunch of tools to run our business. In this blog post, I've listed the main SaaS tools that we use and described what we use each tool for, why we chose it, and whether we would recommend it to other SaaS companies. I have categorized the tools into team-wide, product & marketing (I haven't included the tools we use for development as that's a separate post in itself).

It's worth mentioning that we are less than one year old, we're a small team and we're bootstrapped. This list would look different for an older SaaS business with a larger team. In this tweet, Spencer Fry, Founder of Podia, lists the 64 tools they use to run their 5-year-old SaaS business with a team of ~22 people and spending between $500k-$1m per year on these tools. Josh Pigford, founder of Baremetrics.com, wrote this post on the 67 tools they use to run the business (back in 2015, it was "only" 20 tools). The founder & CEO of Segment.com, Peter Reinhardt, identified 8 categories of tools that should be a good start for most startups. Read more about his categories and recommendations here.

Below are the SaaS tools we use to run Convas. Let me know if you have any recommendations for tools that we should check out. And would you be interested in a separate post on the tools we use for development?

Team-wide

Product

Marketing

Team-wide

Notion

What do we use it for?

We use Notion for project management (read more about how we use Notion for project management). We also use it for knowledge management. It's where we keep and work with all the knowledge and information relevant for Convas.

Why did we choose this tool?

To keep things simple, we want to use as few tools as possible. Notion turned out to be a great combination of project and knowledge management for us. We previously used Asana for project management and google docs, sheets, etc. for knowledge management. Using Google for knowledge management was a mess; we never found what we were looking for and had a hard time remembering what resources we had (we even thought about building a SaaS tool for navigating shared Google Drives..). After we switched our knowledge management to Notion, we realized it would be great for project management as well, so we made the switch from Asana.

Wishlist / product feedback for Notion

  • Notion API (We know you are working on it)
  • Comments should be searchable. If we have discussions in a page, we want to be able to find that page or discussion by searching.
  • Suggestions for changes in a page, the same way Google Docs handles this today.
  • Drag and drop sorting shared across database views. Bonus if this is possible even when combined with another search variable. See how clubhouse.io solves that.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Alternatives that we are looking at

We are very happy with Notion and it has served us well when building and improving our customer feedback tool Convas, so we are not looking at alternatives now. As the team grows, we might want to switch to Clubhouse.io for project management, which we think looks great.

Google Workspace

Not that much to say about Google Workspace, great value for great products. We use Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Drive, Docs, Sheets. Since we started using Notion we use a lot less of Docs & Sheets. We use Sheets for our business planning (too complex and would be too clunky for Notion) and are looking into testing out Baremetrics, Profitwell or Chartmogul for this going forward.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Slack

Slack works well for us (although I do have some issues getting the notifications just like I want them).

We have been eyeing Twist which is built for asynchronous communication. We are interested in distributed work and asynchronous work so will probably test this out soon. Also, Twist is made by Doist that also runs Todoist which I love using for personal task management.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

1Password

1Password works well for us. We looked at LastPass, Dashlane and Bitwarden (open source) before signing up and thought 1Password was the best option. A great feature for teams is that you can share passwords and other sensitive data with your team members. I've had some issues with the Chrome extension, other than that it works well. We don't have any plans to change.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Product tools

Convas

What do we use it for?

Convas is our own tool. We use it to manage & prioritize product feedback and to share the status and updates of product development with our customers. You can try Convas for free (14 day free trial).

Why did we choose this tool?

Well, it's our own tool, easy choice. ;)

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Google Analytics

What do we use it for?

We use Google Analytics for our website & web app analytics.

Why did we choose this tool?

Using Google Analytics happens almost by default for us and it's good to get you started. It will tell you most of what you need to know. But it's not great for SaaS businesses. Just setting up a goal funnel, which should be pretty basic, requires that you base your goals on page views, and not events (which in our case required setting up virtual page views).

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Alternatives that we are looking at

We are looking at Mixpanel and Kissmetrics, but probably won't make the switch for a while. There are also more privacy focused alternatives such Fathom Analytics that might be worth looking into.

LogRocket

We use LogRocket to replay user sessions on our website and web app to better understand the user behavior and see if there are any issues. LogRocket is also a good tool for logging and debugging client side errors. We have previously used FullStory and wanted to test out LogRocket this time around. We like FullStory too, but it's always fun to try out new tools. We're happy with LogRocket and have no plans of changing the tool.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Stripe

Stripe is our payment solution. We use the billing customer portal. Stripe is great and we have no plans of changing tools. Their new new Customer Portal is great and easy to setup unless you need to handle EU VAT. Our main headache with payments is the EU VAT, which is a separate post in itself. We have talked with the Stripe team and they are working to make this better. Dynamic tax rates (currently in beta) based on customer address and customer VAT ID (not included the beta) is what we need.

There are alternatives such as Octobat, Quaderno and Paddle that will solve this for you. However, we decided to stick with a well known and trusted provider for payments.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Sanity

Sanity is our CMS that we use for our blog and other content pieces on our landing page. Sanity is a great headless CMS, meaning that it's only used to manage content, not display content to users. It's very flexible and they have a generous free tier. However, the flexibility comes at a price and that price is complexity. It definitely takes a bit of work to get set up, but you are free to use any tool you want to publish that content. In our case we run our marketing page and blog on NextJS that retrieves content from Sanity and renders it into fully customizable and blazingly fast static webpages.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Figma

Figma is the tool we use for doing design work. Our design work ranges from mockups, clickable prototypes to logotypes. We are also fans of Sketch, which is a very similar tool. Try both and see which work best for you.

We will probably move all our design work from Sketch to Figma as we are very impressed with the rate of innovation at Figma and they just keep getting better. This change comes with a price tag, Sketch has a $99 pay once license / user and Figma is priced at $12 per month / user so you have to decide what makes most sense for your business.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Webflow - experimenting currently

We are currently experimenting with Webflow as we are considering migrating our marketing page and blog. The main reason for a potential migration is to make copy and design changes easier for non-developers (and save precious time for dev).

We launched a side project on Webflow which had some initial SEO issues due to too many redirects, which was not a great experience. But the convenience of designing and changing copy without code is definitely attractive. The jury is still out on if we will migrate our landing page over or not.

Marketing tools

Sendgrid

What do we use it for?

We use Sendgrid to send an automated sequence of welcome emails when a new user registers and to remind users when their free trial is about to expire.

Why did we choose this tool?

The API was straightforward and easy to use, and having the free plan when you're just getting started is pretty alluring.

Wishlist / product feedback

The part of Sendgrid that we are using was recently released and feels unpolished and lacks features such as

  • Flexibility when managing automations, such as re-ordering or adding emails (I've found it easier to delete all emails in the automation and start from scratch..)
  • Editing an automation once it's live
  • Ability to avoid weekends
  • Better stats

How likely are we to recommend to other SaaS companies?

Alternatives that we are looking at

Airtable

What do we use it for?

Airtable is our CRM that we use to track leads.

Why did we choose this tool?

We love the flexibility of Airtable. You can make it into whatever you want. We have previously used Hubspot CRM and Google sheets, but definitely prefer this solution. Our needs are pretty basic for the time being, but as we grow I suppose we'll switch to a dedicated CRM tool.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Typeform

We use Typeform for surveys. The surveys look great and it's a nice tool to work with. We have previously used SurveyMonkey & Google Forms, but we find the design of these surveys much nicer.

SEO tools

When it comes to SEO tools, we're a bit all over the place. We've tried SEMRush, Moz and Ubersuggest, but haven't loved any of them, so we end up using Google Keyword Planner & Search Console which definitely doesn't give us the full picture. I found the Ahrefs blogging for business course really good, so plan to try them out.

Reply - no longer using

We used to use Reply for email outreach. Overall it worked well. We didn't use it much though and cancelled our account a while back. Our only complaint is that it should be possible to cancel the account without contacting the company.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

Hunter - no longer using

Similar to Reply, we used Hunter for a while to find email addresses for email outreach. It worked well, but we didn't use it much and cancelled it a while back.

How likely are we to recommend it to other SaaS companies?

To sum up

Compared to bigger SaaS companies like Podia and Baremetrics, we use relatively few tools. Using Notion for both product & knowledge management has really simplified our toolbox. We love testing new tools though and look forward to expanding our toolbox as we grow. If you have any tools you would recommend for a growing SaaS company, let me know @HelenaAhlstrom

Plug: Convas, a feedback page for your company

Feedback page

Convas is a feedback page for your company. Gather all your feedback in one place, understand your customers and build the right products.

Your customers can share, discuss and upvote feedback in one organized place. Stay in control without messy spreadsheets, emails and Slack notifications.

Its a product manager's best friend. Try it for free.

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