5 Tools We Love for Startups

At InnerSpace, the applications for indoor mapping and location data never cease to amaze us. The last year was full of new discoveries—and opportunities. We’ve evolved, achieving a more complete understanding of our users and the value of our technology.

We’ve also learned a lot about what it takes to grow our company. The founders of InnerSpace have no shortage of past business experience. That said, every startup faces unique challenges. Overcoming them requires creativity—and the right tools.

If you’re involved in a startup, you know how quickly a business can move. Finding digital solutions that foster growth—by making your company leaner, improving your product or service, or developing your brand—can be a major key to success.

In this post, we thought we’d share some of the tools that helped InnerSpace excel in 2017.

1) Squarespace

Squarespace has a lot of fans—and we’re among them. With a wide selection of clean, polished-looking templates, the website-building platform is all about beautiful design. Fortunately, in this case, elegance doesn’t come at the expense of ease-of-use.

InnerSpace’s VP of Marketing, Cerys Goodall, appreciates Squarespace’s flexibility and start-up-friendly pricing. Cerys notes that with the platform, “With a great designer, and a little web-know-how, anyone can create a professional, well-designed site, affordably. Our site is easy to maintain and update which is critical when you’re moving at start-up speed.”

When it comes to selecting digital platforms and tools, intuitiveness is worth considering. This is especially true at startups, where improvements need to be delivered quickly. Piecemeal solutions and steep learning curves can halt progress.

With Squarespace, the web-design process just works. “There’s a reason why giants like Pixar, lyft and Sia are using SquareSpace. It has everything you need - support, security, performance and drag-and-drop design - with the peace of mind that your site is performing while you focus on other things.”

2) DigitalOcean

For fast-moving startups, maintaining a technical infrastructure is just one of many priorities. The cloud offers flexibility, allowing for ongoing growth and change—but which cloud provider is the right fit for your company?

Here at InnerSpace, we couldn’t be happier with the solution we’ve chosen: DigitalOcean. Matt MacGillivray, our Head of R&D, sums up the provider’s value. “DigitalOcean offers affordable, simple, reliable hosting with a huge upside in our potential to grow with them,” says Matt.

The company’s Hatch program offer free credits for qualified startups. This extra support has been hugely helpful to us, and it’s part of the reason we chose DigitalOcean.

You won’t be disappointed. Our provider has made it easier than we ever thought possible to navigate some of our biggest challenges—from managing large volumes of timeseries data, to simplifying the continuous integration and deployment process.

“It’s so hard to find a host that is simple, yet powerful,” say Matt. “DigitalOcean is that host.”

3) Saleae Logic 8

The next tool on our list isn’t for every startup, but those who have a reason to use it are sure to love it. We’re talking about Saleae’s logic analyzer.

At InnerSpace, we’ve been using Logic 8 to test, debug, and refine our sensors. The analyzer has made this process faster and more reliable. Needless to say, we’re impressed. “The hardware is powerful for its price,” says Fred Vatnsdal engineering coop-extraordinaire (who we are SUPER EXCITED he’s coming back to us this summer).

Of course, Logic 8 is highly effective at reading and parsing data—and the fact that it’s affordable makes it a great solution for startups. That said, a big part of what sets Saleae’s product apart is its focus on the user experience.

The hardware is easily portable and beautifully crafted, which makes debugging feel like less of a chore than it otherwise would be. More importantly, Fred notes that the accompanying software is “great to use.”

Finally, Logic 8 is highly flexible. Saleae includes a scripting API so that the solution can be integrated with test automation scripts.

Efficient, cost-effective, and hassle-free. What more could a startup ask for in a logic analyzer? 

4) Slack

If you’re part of the startup world, Slack needs no introduction. It’s been called the fastest-growing business app in history—and as far as we’re concerned, the hype is warranted.

Without efficient communication, businesses rarely succeed. Unnecessary emails and meetings hinder productivity. The same questions arise again and again—and unfortunately, this situation can also be reversed. All too often, crucial information isn’t delivered to the decision-makers who need it.

At InnerSpace, we know this problem doesn’t just impact large organizations. It can also plague smaller teams. For this reason, we were excited to try Slack.

What makes the app so great? The basic features like channels, topics, and notifications are obvious. But for InnerSpace it’s the integrations with Google Calendar, DropBox, and Notion that take Slack to the next level in organization and communication.

Jason Gamblen, coCEO, sums up our feelings about Slack like this: “the free tier is fantastic for startups,” he says. “[W]e couldn’t live without it.”

5) Notion

As companies grow, managing processes and internal content can become trickier. Unwieldy documentation can waste time and lead to poor productivity.

Here at InnerSpace, we’ve found a solution that works for us. Notion provides a workspace where we can easily access all of the notes, documents, and wikis we’ve created with our favourite work apps.

Developer, Neil Leslie is impressed by the tool’s comprehensiveness. “Notion has allowed the team to quickly capture and edit all kinds of documentation, ranging from contact info to technical specs,” says Neil.

If you’re looking for a team-wide collaboration tool, user-friendliness is key. Neil notes that with Notion, “there are no barriers to entry, and it’s all visualized beautifully with minimal effort.”

Check out our faves for your own company. Other notables from our team include:

  • Bitbucket - A (free) private source repository for small teams.

  • Bitbucket Pipelines - A well-designed way to automate builds on any environment, from a yaml file.

  • Codeship - prior to Bitbucket Pipelines, this was our go-to solution for automated builds - cheap, simple and effective.  We loved it!

  • EasyEDA - As a hardware company, in our early days EasyEDA was a fantastic way for us to prototype and create simple PCBs for testing.  The online tool was simple, but effective.

  • MacroFab - Macrofab is a must for hardware startups. Macrofab offers full PCBA, in the US, with very quick turnaround times.

  • Resin.io - An effective service for managing IoT deployment and versioning at a reasonable cost.  Makes scaling easy.

  • University of Waterloo Co-Ops - Ok, so not a “tool” per se. But University of Waterloo’s coop program has allowed us to bring on some amazing talent. Absolutely incredible resource.  

  • MaRS Hardware Exchange - While not publicly available (yet), the MaRS Discovery District’s Hardware Exchange facilitates bi-monthly discussion among small hardware startups to help us learn from one another.  We’ve picked up a number of insights that has saved us a lot of time and money, including MacroFab and Certification advice.