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Tools we use to manage Sphiros

We support building in public, and this post is dedicated to an overview of how we build Sphiros today and the tools we currently use to manage our internal process from A to Z.

It’s written from a personal POV and my personal preferences, which are by no means direct endorsements. But sharing as much as possible to our users how Sphiros’ journey is going is part of our transparency.

The list is complete. Nothing more at this point is needed to build what we’re building. This is not set in stone for future reference, since companies grow and adjustments are needed to optimize an internal framework. Here is our Swiss knife toolkit 😀 :

1. Dynalist (free version)

One of my all-time favorite tools to work with and to note down my thoughts, my most urgent to-dos. This application has a web and desktop version. Commonly used amongst marketeers and developers for some reason (which I do not know why). Admittingly, the desktop version on an M1 Mac device seems to lag a bit. So I use the web version a lot more than its desktop app. The mobile app version works great on iPhone!

The free version is more than sufficient for a single person to keep notes, and you have the ability to share it with team members or people that you prefer not to include in your more robust tools with sensitive information

2. Monday.com (Paid version/3 seats/unlimited guests) $60 USD per month

Yes! I can NOT function without this. It’s integrations, automation, and building overviews where multiple people work in one workspace. Apart from Sphiros, I have a media house that manages over 89 blogs and websites and Monday is our nucleus of managing content.

Monday is mainly used for:

  • Content planning
    Media & Imagery
  • Design & Sprints management
  • Stripe integration, with automation to capture all needed data from clients to Monday such as E-mail, link to receipts, etc.
  • Project management
  • Task overview for team & contractors
  • Documenting files that are in rotation for our data team

The list is endless and totally worth paying a subscription. It saves me and the team hundreds of hours of tracking documents, data, and customers.

(if you wonder why there is a digital media house, publishing house we run: We started this last year, to hedge ourselves to boost organic traffic to Sphiros and place our own display ads in our network. It will significantly reduce our burn rate and acquisition cost per customer in the long term)

3. Sendinblue (Paid version but I might change ) $37 USD per month

SendInBlue is used for e-mail campaigns. But currently, I am in doubt if I should continue with them. Comparing so many other platforms like SendFox or WoodPecker and honestly, kinda lost here 😀

It is safe to say that this is still in the trial-and-error stage. And that probably will be until we are scaling Sphiros or find a better way to automate e-mails. (For example the e-mail you receive post-sign up for Discord etc)

It’s a bit of a bottleneck right now and would love to hear some feedback on this if there are other platforms.

Sendinblue is great as a starting point, within a decent budget but there are a few things I encountered when using it. It freezes sometimes, the dashboard took me a while to figure out, and had a sense it was not intuitive on some parts. Other than that, still satisfied with it.

4. Schedulr – (Paid version) $10USD per month

This is a personal choice. The company is in its early stages, and I had a great talk with the founder about his product and future roadmap. I was looking for a scheduling integration with Zoom and from one founder to another, it’s natural instinct to support each other.

The neatest feature is the ability to overlap calendars from one to another.

We had a lengthy call about his product, and I was looking if there was an ability to connect multiple Zoom accounts (personal and corporate). He messaged me back the next day and is looking into it. I believe this would be a great addition for start-up founders or professionals that are using both types of accounts.

That said, the free version is absolutely suitable for individuals or solopreneurs or people that do not require much at this stage.

Is it similar to Calendly? Since I read that comparison on his Twitter feed a few times. One can argue yes, but his roadmap looks just better than its mature existing version.

5. Zoom– (Free version) duhhhhhhh

Yes, captain obvious.

Planning to upgrade to a paid version when scaling our sales and relationship management team.

6. Figma (Free version)

I am no designer. The best I can do in Figma is to draw boxes and add a line of text. But it’s sufficient to translate my thoughts for the dashboard to make amendments.

The ability to quickly share a mockup or layout idea with the designer or developer makes it an important tool in our process of building Sphiros today and in our next version.

7. Pumble (Free), a replacement for Slack

I used Slack for years. Averaging my bill to about 80$ per month. And I was very satisfied with Slack but then hit a few snags on the way.
Stumbled on Pumble which is perfect for smaller teams or organizations that want to invite people outside of your organization. Since Slack just bills them per guest, it started to count heavily.

I used to pay for slack 16$ a month, which went to 80$-120$ in no time on a monthly basis and I felt this was not worth the price anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth it when your team size scales with revenue but I have currently 42 people on Pumble that are working (on many items) and that starts to add up on Slack if they do not belong to your organization.

Yes, there are a few trade-offs and it’s not as slick with lesser options than Slack, but I recommend it for small teams looking for a free alternative.

Will I ever change back to Slack? That’s dependent on our needs and if truly need integrations from Monday to Slack for example.

8. Discord (Free version, because I don’t know how it works yet)

That was and is still unknown territory for me. But I decided to pull the trigger building a community for early adopters in Discord. After doing some digging, I realized it became a growing medium for start-ups in the last few years.

We started off very slowly until one of our customers was so enthusiastic about our product that he decided to share it in other channels and that created a massive impact on our channel.

Honestly, I do not know much about Discord and it’s a bit of a learning curve. But that’s pretty much a standard for every start-up. Learning curves 24/7.

9. OneDrive & Office (Paid) $100 USD per year

I picked OneDrive over Google Drive because I am not a fan of the way Google Drive functions or operates. For the same reason that I prefer to use Microsoft Office over Google Docs or Sheets. It is too clunky and lacks speed. This is a personal preference.

Excel files and Word documents just work smoother and better. That said the functions in Google’s free version such as commenting and highlighting are a massive plus there. But no, still Office 😀

10. G-suite/ Google Workspace for e-mail (Paid, 15 licenses at $6 per license)

That is obviously self-explanatory. And there are not many greater options on the market than Google Mail. I picked it for organizational reasons, calendar integrations, and the overlap makes it easier to manage and organize items.

Currently, it cost me $90 per month, but that is a variable that’s dependent on growth and need.

11. Paper, like real paper

Sometimes digital does not cut it. And going old-school to draw/map out a few things works just better on paper. Countless times I was able to obtain better results on a simple sheet of paper with scribbles than typing.

12. My all-time favorite: Timepage by Moleskine (Paid bundle) $20 per year.

Alright, this does NOT classify as a direct tool for Sphiros, but I cannot help it to add this one.

Timepage on iPhone and iPad is by far the sexiest, neatest calendar I have EVER seen. It makes you really want to use a calendar. I cannot express enough how excited I get from this product. Like… damned!

It is connected to all calendars it gives me a good vibe when checking calendars or upcoming meetings.

I can probably write a whole essay with 2000 adjectives about Timepage. that’s how much I love using this product to boost my productivity.

Conclusion & Total

To break it down per month average:

I spend about $207 per month on tools that are needed to organize Sphiros.
This is absolutely acceptable number when starting up and the costs are far less than expected. You can do more with a lot less.

I was not looking to cut corners by any means. The tools selected are based on past experiences, trial, and error with others and sometimes you favor one product over another. There is no right or wrong.

The cost obviously will go up when you scale since your framework or internal structure might change over time.

Just wanted to share this with our clients and readers!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. If you’re building your own startup, hopefully, some tips can help you!

Borremans Pieter
Corporate Catalyst | Founder of Sphiros