How can you make a great idea into a product without spending a lot of money? There are many free startup tools that you can use if you don’t have the budget. The same tools that we used to launch our startup can be yours for free.
Mockup with Google Draw
Our prototypes were created in Google Draw. Nothing is more affordable for budget-conscious people than 15GB of cloud storage.
Build with Ruby on Rails
It’s enough to be used by Github, Basecamp, and Twitter. Ruby on Rails, an open-source web framework, thrives because of its Gems system. You don’t need in-app purchases. Instead, you have pre-written code snippets you can plug into your browser to ensure you don’t reinvent the wheel. In just days, we had a working prototype. There are many free text editors available. We used TextMate and recommend Atom & Rubymine.
Host Amazon Web Services
Hosting is required in order to have a SaaS product. Amazon’s free Tier is available for 12 months. Spend some time learning about elastic beanstalks and why they are important.
Track with Swimlanes
We began using our product as soon as possible to plan, assign, and track our tasks. You can call it “dogfooding” if you wish. We would add items to our Product Backlog, run a 2-week sprint, reflect on the successes and failures, and then do it again. This was the inspiration for our Free “Startup” plan. 1 project, 2 users. We wanted to help others entrepreneurs realize their dreams, just like we did.
Manage code with GitHub
GitHub is a distributed version management system. What is GitHub? It is used to track the history of your code changes. Coders are able to make changes locally, so they can be pushed up later. This is a big advantage over centralized systems. Your productivity won’t suffer if the WiFi is down at your cafe. Your project will be available to anyone who wants it. This can be a good thing. Swimlanes quickly switched to the Micro plan ($7 per month). BitBucket offers another alternative, with a private repository included in their free plan.
Deploy with Codeship
For SaaS products, especially startups, Continuous Deployment can be a great option. It is not always possible to release your product in a timely manner. You need to make it available, get feedback and improve it. Continuous Deployment enabled us to automate the most important tasks from the beginning, minimizing our technical debt. Learn more about how Codeship was set up to deploy updates without any downtime.
Communicate with Slack
Until we began using Slack, we didn’t understand why it was so good. We integrated Codeship at first, to receive notifications about new builds. Ghost Inspector was added, which displayed the results from our automation suites. Intercom joined the fray, providing insights into customer behavior. Slack quickly became our vision of the world beyond email.
Accelerate with Skylight
Since we had chosen to write Swimlanes using Ruby on Rails, connecting Skylight was an obvious way to begin tweaking its performance. Skylight is a smart profiler that shows you how your app is using its time and identifies common performance errors. It also provides accurate reports about response times. Your app will love the free 100,000 first requests.
Create content with WordPress
Growth Hackers know that content is the king, and WordPress doesn’t need any introduction. Our website was set up to use WordPress in two ways. The regular blog to share helpful tips and our journey and the Help Site to support it. Our team can easily update, modify, restructure, and publish our Help pages as needed.
Automate tests with Ghost Inspector
We love Ghost Inspector. This tool makes automation of test results simple. Install the Chrome extension to create a test in a matter of minutes. The free plan allows you to run 100 tests per calendar month. We set up daily tests on both Production and Beta sites to get started. We would send the results to our #automation channel on Slack so that we knew when something required attention.
Learn and support with Intercom
Intercom was our first introduction to the service. Intercom takes Customer Support to the next step. It empowers you to take control of your support tickets and not wait for others to do so. We began to gain valuable insight into how Swimlanes users used it and when it was most appropriate to reach out to them. We were thrilled to see people use our app and wanted to know how they were doing.
Engage with HootSuite
Socializing is difficult when you are just starting out. There are a million things you need to do, and you must do them all by yourself. You also need to be active on social media. Otherwise, no one will know you exist! Hootsuite is here to help you save time. We connected three networks (Twitter LinkedIn and Facebook) to allow us to author, schedule, and publish to all of them simultaneously #winning