Services Checklist For A Startup (at least the ones we use)

Hemant Kashyap

As co-founders of MyServista, we have used a number of external services to help bootstrap our business with minimal capital. We recently launched an improved version of our site and these tools have been very useful. We thought that it would be helpful to share these with others who are looking to get their companies started on the cheap.

This is simply a list of services we use. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive list of services or of the “best” providers in the market nor are we promoting these providers in any way. Likely we’ve left out some amazing companies. Where possible, we tried to use services offered by companies in Chicago.
  • Virtual Servers & CDN: Amazon EC2, Amazon CloudFront
  • Customer Surveys: SurveyMonkey
  • Massmail: MailChimp
  • Transactional mail: Amazon SES
  • Feedback App: UserVoice
  • Site Analytics: Google Analytics & KISSMetrics
  • Credit Card Payments: BrainTree
  • Source Code Control: GitHub
  • Bug Tracking: Bugzilla
  • DNS: CloudFlare
  • Logo Design: CrowdSpring
  • Stock Photos: ShutterStock
  • Accounting: QuickBooks
  • Document Collaboration: Google Docs
  • Business Cards & Direct Mail: VistaPrint
  • Office Space: 1871

We’ve heard great things about MixPanel for site analytics and did consider FeeFighters (Samurai) and PayPal for payment processing. We ended up designing our own logo as we didn’t like what we got back from CrowdSpring. We have a lot of stock photos on our site and found a well priced package for $250/month for 25 images a day on ShutterStock.


We love companies that have offerings targeting startups. They usually have a free basic plan (freemium) until you hit a threshold and we found that these plans usually met our initial needs. MailChimp (which has a great API btw), UserVoice, Google Analytics, Bugzilla and CloudFlare can all be potentially used for free. For CloudFlare we did notice that performance improved dramatically once we started paying $20/month.


We’ve left a few services such as legal services and banking off the list. We’ve been told that typically a lawyer will take 5-10 hours to customize a partnership agreement, 5-7 hours for an employee stock agreement, 3-4 hours for a product/service agreement and about 1 hour for a non-disclosure agreement. Rates can be $250-500 an hour.


We hope that you find this beneficial. And show us some love! Vote here for MyServista as "Best Bootstrapped Startup" for the Moxie Awards.


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Jamie Russo
Adding two to your list. Task Rabbit - for lots of things you need done that don't quite require a new team member but distract existing, lean team. Admin, furniture assembly, expense management, event help. You can specify Chicago-based talent for any task. Also, since 1871 is reportedly full, I'll add Enerspace Chicago to your office space list. Already hosting several tech start-ups and a diverse group of independent professionals and small biz owners.
Christopher Ross
Good list. There are a few additions/substitutions I would suggest considering, based on my own experiences. Disclosure: former Microsoftie, but sold all my stock 2yrs ago and make my choices based on business need first. • Development - Tools, Servers & Services: Microsoft BizSpark. Free to join, 3yrs of software (including Azure cloud services) and a growing level of startup support. • Productivity - Office Suite: Microsoft Office 365. Exchange + Microsoft Office is still the best overall. While their web apps still need some polish, you don't have to fret about compatibility. • Productivity - Information Management: Evernote. Sharing notebooks with co-founders/mentors is a great way to manage group-think. • Technology Partnership: Microsoft Partner Network. Free to join, with low bars set for access to Office 365 subscriptions. • Cloud Services (servers): SingleHop. Local guys make good (again). Yeah, it's in the cloud, but I still like the idea that *someone* is local. • Productivity - Virtual File Storage: Dropbox. I've recently migrated to SkyDrive w/45Gb for $10/yr, but to each his own. • Credit Card Payments: Paypal. Rich set of tools for easily integrating with applications and websites, consumer and business confidence with the brand. • Device: iPad 2 or iPad 3 w/ cellular data plan. I still have my iPad 1 w/ WiFi, but find the convenience of increased online access (about 1Gb a month) worth it.
Adam Calica
Quantcast is great for detailed demographics data, free and similar to Google Analytics. Crazyegg is a nice tool for seeing where people are clicking on your pages and where they are scrolling ($10/month)
Stella Fayman
For legal services, check out the entrepreneurial legal clinic at Kent Law School as well as Northwestern. They offer more affordable legal services for entrepreneurs. For accounting: LessAccounting (quickbooks UI=nightmare). Also WaveAccounting is free and is offering a low cost payroll option this year. Payroll: SurePayroll Payment Processing: Stripe (your developers will love you)
Tom Ordonez
And you think good developers are expensive. Lawyers are gouging and they really end up charging by the minute. They should instead offer a menu of fixed price services based on average market price.
Kenneth Obel
Tom, a few of us in the community are doing just that. I quote nearly all of my legal services for startups on a fixed-fee basis. Currently in the works: a sub-$2K package of ultra-lean kickoff documents for startups. More here:
Alex Fedotov
Amazon DNS is better, because it's 'authoritative' (in pushes the records on most backbone DNS servers in under 30 sec).

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