To run a SaaS application like TeamGrid, you need a lot of tools for hosting, deployment, support, marketing, documentation, billing, contract management, and tools that do valuable work in the background.
Why do we use so many tools? Well, they automate many processes, bring transparency to our SaaS business, increase the user experience and save a lot of work. As a bootstrapped startup, it is particularly important for us to generate as much "value" as possible with our highly limited resources. Therefore, we do not use sparingly with external services that facilitate the operation of the platform.
Now a little insight into all the services that we have integrated into TeamGrid.
TeamGrid consists of several elements: the TeamGrid web app, various microservices, our website, dashboards for displaying KPIs, backup systems and of course our database.
Cloudflare helps us deliver our web app securely, reliably and quickly over the Internet. In the Security section, Cloudflare provides protection against DDOS attacks, handles the delivery of SSL certificates, offers rate limiting, and more. Cloudflare is also a high-performance CDN and offers many features to deliver web pages through caching and other measures quickly.
Heroku as a PaaS provider is especially essential for us. Heroku ensures that we can scale our entire server infrastructure without significant DevOps overhead. Currently, TeamGrid runs on about 15 server instances (called dynos). If we need more capacity, we can scale our cluster with just a few clicks. Similarly, Heroku takes over the entire load balancing.
Support & Knowledge Base
Intercom has become our central point in communication with customers. We send messages to our users via Intercom - either via the Intercom Messenger or via e-mail.
Of particular interest to Intercom is that it can receive segment events. If a new user joins TeamGrid, a user is automatically created at Intercom and an automated "welcome e-mail" is sent to the user. So you have the possibility to set up so-called "Auto Messages", which are sent in the fulfillment of previously defined rules. More about this in the section "Marketing Automation".
In addition to the "Auto Messages" Intercom is the central point for our support. If a user has a question about TeamGrid, they can always click on "Contact support" and send us a message. Intercom offers us the perfect backend to organize and handle all customer requests.
What is Marketing Automation? Now, when a user launches his / her test phase at TeamGrid, we pursue the goal of becoming a Paying Customer. To do that, we need to make sure that the user understands the value of our product. The "Marketing Automation" helps us to give the user a smooth start in TeamGrid and to reach our set goals (for example, an appointment to a personal web demo). The automation behind it therefore refers to picking up the user through automatically sent messages in the best possible way.
At TeamGrid, Intercom is not only used for typical support requests (the user proactively writes an e-mail to email@example.com or uses the "contact support" button within the app), but also in the area of "marketing automation".
Again, segment is used again. As soon as a user stays on our landing page or has registered for the free trial phase, the user is included in intercom - either as "lead" or "user". We now have the option to set up so-called "Auto Messages", which we can automatically send via the Intercom Messenger or via e-mail.
The great thing here: Segment transmits all events that a user has performed. Thus, we have the basis for truly personalized messages that we can send in the context of "Marketing Automation".
A practical example: The user has registered and created 5 tasks at TeamGrid. However, he has not yet created a project. Now we can create an auto-message, which will be sent out if the user has at least 5 tasks after 24 hours - but no project created and tell him what benefits the TeamGrid projects. So we actively respond to the behavior of the user and can thus send more targeted messages.
Analytics & Attribution
Fullstory is a service that helps us to understand the user's usage behavior, to detect technical errors (client-side) and to make the support process more efficient.
FullStory records individual user sessions in the form of small videos. Thus, it can be seen how the user navigates within the application and what experiences he has with the app. Important: FullStory was configured by us so that we can not perceive any personal content or be sent to FullStory!
FullStory has also proved to be very helpful in the support process - because a user has a problem, we can use the FullStory videos to quickly understand the context in which an error has occurred and thus work even more effectively on problem solving. FullStory is also segmented and a Google Ventures funded startup.
Improvely is the newest service we have integrated. Improvely also receives events from Segment and helps us to evaluate the ROI of our various marketing channels.
Improvely recognizes which channel or campaign a visitor came to the TeamGrid landing page. Since Improvely also receives all segment events, the visit can be assigned a later conversion (for example, registration for trial or order of a package). This will enable us to break down the CAC on a campaign and channel basis and determine the ROI.
The evaluation of the economic data is absolutely essential for a SaaS startup. So for anyone planning to build a SaaS startup, I'd suggest understanding the terms as fast as possible: MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenues), Annual Run Rate (ARR), Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) ....
So that we always have our economic figures ready, we have tied up. ChartMogul evaluates our data so that we can see meaningful charts around our economic development. From MRR to churn analysis.
Subscription Management & Payments
A very important tip in advance: Do not put on the shoe and build your own accounting backend around the invoice generation, payment transaction management and Co. There are many and good tools that are specially adapted to SaaS needs. Therefore, you should not burn any development resources here.
We have currently linked Billwerk to Wirecard and Stripe so that our customers can pay via SEPA direct debit and credit card.
By the way: the support of Billwerk is top-notch. The company comes from Germany.
For the documentation of our API and the Developer Hub we use the service readme.io. The US-based startup provides a nice editor to meet the specific requirements of API documentation.
With kickbox.io we check whether e-mail addresses or mailboxes exist. When a TeamGrid user enters his e-mail address, Kickbox pings the mailbox and checks if the mailbox exists.
TeamGrid is currently localized in German and English. In order to manage the entire translations, we use the PhraseApp of the Hamburg company Dynport. PhraseApp makes it easy for us to manage all language variables. Theoretically speaking, thanks to PhraseApp we could launch an additional language for TeamGrid within a few hours.
We love nice icons. The Fontastic service helps us to organize our icons and deploy them by clicking on Amazon S3 & Cloudfront.