2014 Startup Toolkit

(2013 post here)

Mission Critical & Internal

Option #1 - Full stack: Atlassian. Each product serves a purpose: JIRA (project management), Confluence (wiki), Hipchat (internal communication), Bitbucket (source code management), Bamboo (continuous integration). They have it all.

Option #2 - Use the best of each:

Slack - Internal team communication
Github - Source code hosting (+ tickets)
Google Docs - Excel/Word/Wiki replacements. Use it for everything.
Google Apps - Gmail.
Dropbox - File sharing (esp. PDF documents, graphics, decks)
LastPass - Password management and sharing
JIRA - Product management
CodeShip - Continuous integration/deployment
Invision - Design iteration workflow

Bolt-on Simplification

Codeclimate - Automated code review
Postmark - Email deliverability
Bugsnag - Exception notification (for both iOS and API/Web)
New Relic - Web performance monitoring
Pingdom - Server monitoring (side note: bills cards from Sweden, some banks seem to trigger fraud and shutoff your card each month.)

Hosting

Heroku - Scales with you, starts at free. Battle tested.
Softlayer - Bare metal + free incoming bandwidth.

PS - On with the next one…

That’s how racers exist, in tiny increments of time/space, pleasure or pain, paid (often hugely) to do things they love, at the limit of control, at up to 200 MPH. These activities are accessible only to few: life on the edge, embraced whenever a champion rides—in practicing, in races and especially in qualifying. No letup. No excuses.

As we learn (again) in this intriguing book, motorcycle racers are abnormal: top 1% in vision and reflexes; supremely fit; mentally tough, able to focus for sustained periods in superhuman ways; devastatingly, destructively competitive, driven to win at any cost; able to recover magically from adversity. For some, life is the price.

It’s amazing what you can achieve with a small dedicated team when you start from first principles and aren’t encumbered by the established way of doing things. Yet I’ve learned over time that it’s surprisingly difficult to get teams to be super ambitious because most people haven’t been educated in this kind of moonshot thinking. They tend to assume that things are impossible, or get frightened of failure. It’s why we’ve put so much energy into hiring independent thinkers at Google, and setting big goals. Because if you hire the right people and have bold enough dreams, you’ll usually get there. And even if you fail, you’ll probably learn something important.

It’s also true that over time many companies get comfortable doing what they have always done, with a few incremental changes. This kind of incrementalism leads to irrelevance over time, especially in technology, because change tends to be revolutionary, not evolutionary. It’s why we continue to invest for the long term, in our next generation of big bets.

No single app has yet fixed mobile email, but bit by bit they are helping to unshackle us from our computers. If this were a make-your-own-sundae situation, I’d start with Mailbox’s reminders and CloudMagic’s search, throw in Evomail’s draft tool, then top it off with Acompli’s incredibly convenient calendar integration

- Wall Street Journal

and

Mobile email must be broken, because everyone’s trying to fix it.

Over the past year, numerous companies — Mailbox, Boxer, Evomail and Seed, to name just a few — have launched apps designed to make handling email on smartphones better and easier. 

- re/code

Two huge publications.  Now let’s compare this from a different angle:

Mailbox = exited for $100M(?), raised $5M, iOS and Android

Boxer = raised $3M+, iOS only

Accompli = raised $7.3M, iOS only

Evomail = raised $100k, iOS and Android

We’ve done a lot with a little.  We’re going to do so much more.

Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. For the saddest summary of a life is contained in three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.

Louis Boone

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.

Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.

And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.

I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes awhile. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.

– Ira Glass