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Each venture provides critical lessons that shape the startup journey of an entrepreneur. A good example is choosing the right tech stack for a business, since aligning operations with technology isn't just an option; it's a necessity. In this syndicated article, the four-time founder with a wealth of experience in starting, scaling, and managing businesses, Adam Spector, shares his recommendations for the perfect startup ops tech-stack.

Adam, who is the founder of Levy, a back-office operations provider, is also a seasoned mentor at Founder Institute. He believes that a tech-stack should not only streamline operations but foster growth and enhance customer relations as well.

Adam's toolkit is anchored on five key criteria - User Experience, Customer Service Level, Cost, Scalability, and Automation/API-First Approach. 

Take advantage of Levy's discount for companies of the Founder Institute network

Core Criteria for Tech-Stack Selection

In the fast-paced world of startups, operational efficiency is crucial. Leveraging the right tech stack, a combination of software products and programming languages used to build an application, can optimize your processes, increase productivity, and streamline workflows. But what makes a tech-stack "right" for your startup? Here are the five core criteria you should consider when selecting your tech-stack.

1. User Experience (UX)

UX is crucial to the success of any software. It determines how users interact with the tool, the ease of use, and overall satisfaction. A well-designed user interface (UI) can result in a positive UX, thereby boosting productivity and efficiency.

When evaluating the UX of a software solution, consider factors such as its navigational structure, responsiveness, speed, and the intuitiveness of its design. Are there tooltips or guides to help users understand different features? Is there a steep learning curve for new users, or can they hit the ground running? The software you choose should be user-friendly and intuitive for all members of your team, regardless of their technical abilities.

2. Customer Service Level

Despite the best UX design, issues and challenges will invariably arise. In such cases, the responsiveness and effectiveness of the software provider's customer service can make all the difference.

A tech vendor with a solid reputation for excellent customer support will not only resolve issues quickly but also make sure you're optimizing the use of their product. It's also a good idea to check whether they provide a comprehensive knowledge base, training materials, or online tutorials. Remember, a software solution is only as good as the support backing it up.

3. Cost

While cost should never be the sole deciding factor, it's an important one for startups working within a budget. When considering the cost of a tech-stack, look beyond the upfront price tag. Consider the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which includes the initial cost, maintenance expenses, upgrade costs, and any fees for additional services or modules.

Another cost-related aspect to consider is the scalability of the pricing model. As your business grows, will the cost of the software grow with it, and at what rate? Opt for a tech-stack that offers a balance between functionality, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.

4. Scalability

Scalability is another critical factor for startups. Your tech-stack should be able to grow with your business, accommodating increases in data volume, user load, and feature requirements.

The software's architectural design plays a significant role in its scalability. Look for solutions that use scalable architectures like microservices or serverless computing. Moreover, the ability to integrate with other tools and services also contributes to the scalability of the tech-stack.

5. Automation / API-First Approach

Automation is a game-changer for startups. It reduces manual tasks, speeds up processes, and eliminates human error, enabling your team to focus on strategic, growth-driving activities.

An API-first approach means that the software is built with the intention of integrating it with other applications right from the get-go. This facilitates smooth data exchange between different software, which can significantly boost your operational efficiency.

In conclusion, selecting the right tech-stack for your startup is a vital strategic decision. It's not about choosing the most popular tools or those with the most features. Instead, it's about understanding your startup's unique needs and selecting a tech-stack that aligns with your operational goals, team skills, and budget constraints. This will lay a strong foundation for your startup's operational efficiency and future growth.

Top 10 Startup Ops Tech-Stack (With Alternatives)

  1. Access Management - 1Password

The digital era demands that businesses safeguard critical data. For access management, I vouch for 1Password. It's not just a password manager; it's a comprehensive tool that simplifies secure data storage. It can generate strong, unique passwords for all your accounts, and with a single click, you're logged in! Plus, its user-friendly dashboard makes navigation a breeze.

In terms of security, 1Password uses 256-bit encryption, the same type that banks and governments use. It also features customizable vaults for access control, password auditing, and data breach monitoring. The Travel Mode, which hides vital passwords during international travel, is another unique feature.

Unique Selling Point:

  • Features a user-friendly interface that’s easy to use and navigate

  • Streamlines password management, ensuring high security with unique passwords

  • Uses robust 256-bit encryption for secure data storage

  • Provides customizable vaults for different access levels

  • Offers Travel Mode to protect sensitive data during travel


LastPass: Offers a similar suite of features, such as secure password storage, auto-fill, and multi-factor authentication.

Dashlane: Another robust password manager with a built-in VPN for extra online security.

  1. Email – Google Workspace

Google Workspace stands out as my preferred choice for email services. It goes beyond the familiarity of Gmail by integrating the convenience of having your own domain name. It's a fantastic tool for team collaboration, making calendar sharing, video calls, and instant communication through Team Chats remarkably straightforward.

Notably, the Single Sign On (SSO) feature provides access to all enterprise cloud applications after a single sign in. This means less time entering passwords and more time being productive.

Unique Selling Point:

  • Provides familiar user experience of Gmail with the professionalism of a branded domain

  • Offers Single Sign-On (SSO) for seamless access to enterprise cloud applications

  • Facilitates easy collaboration through shared calendars, unlimited Google Meet calls, and instant communication with Team Chats

  • Delivers a consistent experience across different devices


Microsoft 365: A comprehensive suite of productivity tools, including Outlook for email.

Zoho Mail: Offers a secure and reliable business email solution with an ad-free experience.

  1. Virtual Mailbox – Usestable 

UseStable is an innovative cloud-based service transforming the way businesses manage postal mail. By digitizing and organizing physical mail, it enables access anytime and anywhere. Features such as scanning, forwarding, shredding, or archiving, coupled with a check deposit service, make mail management efficient and hassle-free.

Beyond convenience, UseStable enhances your business's professional image by offering a real street address. Security is paramount with encrypted and securely stored mail. With plans tailored for businesses of all sizes, UseStable modernizes operations, making it a top choice for efficiency-focused businesses.

Unique Selling Point:

  • Online mail management: scan, forward, shred, or archive mail items

  • Check deposit service

  • Real street address

  • Mail and package forwarding to any location worldwide


Earth Class Mail: Offers similar services, including online mail scanning, mail forwarding, and check deposit. 

Traveling Mailbox: Another popular choice, Traveling Mailbox provides online postal mailbox services, including mail scanning, mail forwarding, and check deposit services. 

  1. Payroll & Benefits – Gusto

Managing payroll and benefits doesn't have to be a headache. Gusto’s all-in-one HR platform has the tools you need to hire, pay, and manage your team seamlessly. It's so intuitive and easy to use that we even use it at our own startup!

Gusto enables unlimited payrolls, extensive hiring, onboarding for contractors and employees, and automatic tax filings. It simplifies HR tasks while ensuring that your team gets the right tax forms for their individual filings.

Unique Selling Point:

  • Provides an intuitive, user-friendly dashboard that simplifies setup and navigation

  • Allows for easy submission of unlimited payrolls and access to HR benefits

  • Offers comprehensive hiring and onboarding features for both contractors and employees

  • Assists in business tax filings and provides necessary tax forms for individual tax filings


Rippling: Rippling is a powerful all-in-one platform that handles your payroll, benefits, HR, and IT. From onboarding to offboarding, Rippling automates the tedious manual work, allowing you to manage all of your employee operations in one place.

ADP: Known for its extensive HR solutions, ADP provides flexible payroll services that grow along with your business. With ADP, you can manage payroll, time and attendance, benefits, and more.

  1. Banking - Meow

Meow is an innovative banking service tailored for startups, offering banking services and financial management tools under one roof. It provides FDIC-insured accounts, easy fund transfers, and real-time financial tracking for growth-oriented businesses.

Beyond banking, Meow creates a thriving startup ecosystem. Its customers get access to community events, insightful resources, and networking opportunities. This community-oriented approach makes Meow more than a bank - it's a strategic partner for startups, fueling financial success with the right tools and connections.

Unique Selling Point:

  • A business checking account

  • Instant issuance of a corporate debit card

  • Convenient ACH payments

  • Easy domestic and international wire transfers

  • Robust financial tools and features

  • Integrated analytics to monitor your spending


Mercury: Catering specifically to startups, Mercury provides FDIC-insured bank accounts with no monthly fees, free wire transfers, and a robust API that allows for integrations with other financial services.

Brex: Brex operates as both a bank and a corporate credit card for startups. It stands out for its no-fee model and impressive rewards program tailored for businesses.

  1. Credit Card Management – Ramp

Ramp is a comprehensive finance automation platform offering corporate cards with integrated financial management tools. Designed for startups and businesses seeking enhanced financial control, it streamlines expense management, bill payments, accounting, and reporting.

What distinguishes Ramp is its real-time insights and data-driven recommendations for strategic spending. By automatically categorizing and syncing each transaction, it allows businesses to monitor spending trends and make informed financial decisions. As such, Ramp is a key tool for optimizing financial performance.

Unique Selling Point:

  • Free and easy application process, with no personal credit checks or personal guarantees

  • Provides unlimited physical and virtual cards that are instantly available and universally accepted

  • Categories every transaction and syncs them in real time

  • Facilitates instant receipt collection via integrations with Gmail, Lyft, Amazon Business, etc.


Brex: Offers a corporate card for startups with no personal guarantee needed.

American Express Business Platinum: Known for its rewarding points system and extensive benefits.

Note: The ideal credit card for your business should align with your spending habits. If you spend heavily on areas like social media advertising, select a card that offers rewards or cashbacks for these expenses. Essentially, your credit card should work in harmony with your business's operational needs and financial patterns.

  1. International Contractors/Hires – Deel

Deel streamlines the process of employing international talent. It offers seamless onboarding, contract management, and payroll handling, easing the challenges of operating across borders. Its efficient design saves valuable time, allowing businesses to focus more on their core operations.

Unique to Deel is its compliance assurance. By taking on employment liabilities, Deel ensures businesses abide by local laws and regulations, providing peace of mind when managing a global team. Additionally, Deel respects global privacy laws, ensuring the security of both businesses and their team members' data.

Unique Selling Point:

  • Offers a clear, user-friendly interface for hassle-free onboarding

  • Allows for hiring contractors and employees from different locations, even without an entity

  • Handles global payroll for international employees

  • Assures compliance with local laws and GDPR


Papaya Global: A global payroll and payment solution that also ensures compliance with local labor laws.

Remote: Offers international payroll, benefits, compliance, and contractor management.

  1. Bookkeeping Software – QuickBooks

QuickBooks is an industry-leading accounting software tailored to the needs of businesses of all sizes. It automates income and expense tracking, providing real-time insights into your financial health. It also presents data in easily comprehensible widgets, enabling businesses to quickly understand their financial standing and make informed decisions.

Moreover, QuickBooks facilitates seamless integration with a multitude of business applications, making it a versatile tool for your financial management needs. It also offers scalability to grow with your business, supporting everything from basic bookkeeping to advanced financial reporting. Its robust feature set and ease of use make QuickBooks an invaluable part of a startup's tech stack.

Unique Selling Point:

  • Automatically tracks income and expenses

  • Offers easy-to-understand widgets for a quick overview of financials


Zoho Books: Zoho Books is an easy-to-use, online accounting software designed for small businesses to manage their finances and stay on top of their cash flow. 

FreshBooks: FreshBooks is a comprehensive accounting solution designed to cater specifically to the needs of small businesses, freelancers and agencies. 

  1. Cap Table Management – Pulley

Pulley is a modern and efficient solution for cap table management, allowing startups to manage complex ownership structures with ease. It offers end-to-end transaction processing, which automatically updates your cap table, reducing the risk of errors and lightening the administrative load.

In addition to its core functionality, Pulley also stands out for its legal document generation capabilities. It's the only cap table management software that generates fully executed and signed legal documents. This feature is not only a significant time-saver, but it also ensures accuracy and legal compliance, further cementing Pulley's value in a startup's tech stack.

Unique Selling Point:

  • Facilitates easy management of complex cap tables

  • Avoids costly tax and legal mistakes through automated error checking

  • Generates fully executed and signed legal documents


Carta: A popular alternative that offers portfolio insights in addition to cap table management.

Capshare: Offers equity management software that's easy to use and comprehensive.

  1. Business Insurance – Vouch

Vouch is a leading provider of business insurance designed specifically for startups. It offers a variety of coverage options, ranging from general liability to cyber insurance, to protect startups from common risks. It's known for its streamlined, online application process, and competitive rates, making insurance more accessible and affordable for startups.

Beyond just providing insurance, Vouch also excels at customer service, providing guidance and support to help startups understand their insurance needs. Vouch's commitment to serving the startup community, coupled with its innovative insurance solutions, makes it an ideal choice for startups looking for comprehensive, reliable insurance coverage.´

Unique Selling Point:

  • Provides customized policies tailored to the unique risks faced by startups

  • Offers a quick and easy online application process

  • Provides access to experienced insurance professionals who understand the startup ecosystem

  • Backed by top insurance companies, providing reassurance of claim payout if needed


Founder Shield Business Insurance: Founder Shield specializes in crafting customized insurance solutions for startups and high-growth businesses.

Newfront Insurance: Newfront merges technology and trusted advisors to deliver efficient and user-friendly insurance experience. 

Need additional resources? 

These are the essentials, but ask me for other recommendations! Bookkeeper / CPA, corporate counsel, virtual phone, additional benefits, etc. Reach out

To conclude, the right tech-stack can significantly streamline your operations, foster growth, and enhance your customer relations. Each tool I've recommended offers unique benefits that, when combined, can significantly impact your startup's efficiency and effectiveness. 

As you build your startup, remember to choose your tech-stack with care – it could be one of the most important decisions you make.

Tips, Tricks and Hacks

Integration is Key: Many of your chosen tech-stack components will have integrations with each other. For example, Google Workspace and Asana can sync together, allowing you to create tasks directly from emails. Leverage these integrations to improve workflow efficiency.

Training and Onboarding: Spend time onboarding your team onto these tools and provide necessary training. Many tools like Gusto, QuickBooks, and Deel have useful tutorials and learning resources. This will maximize user adoption and efficiency.

Security: Ensure that you are using all the security features that these tools offer. For instance, 1Password allows you to enforce two-factor authentication for all users. Regularly review access permissions on all platforms to maintain tight control.

Leverage Automation: Many of these tools offer automation features. For instance, Deel can automate payments to international contractors, and QuickBooks can auto-categorize expenses. Use these features to save time and reduce errors.

Stay Updated: These tech tools frequently update their features and services. Stay updated with their blogs or newsletters. You never know when a new feature might be a game-changer for your operations.

Feedback Loops: Encourage feedback from your team on the tools being used. This can be a simple way to discover new features or identify potential alternatives that could better suit your business needs.

Optimize For Your Use Case: Each tool comes with a broad range of features but not all of them may be beneficial to your operations. Identify the features that are most relevant to your organization and focus on getting the maximum out of them.

Use Analytics: Many of these tools, like Mercury or Ramp, provide valuable analytics. Use these insights to understand your spending, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions.

Maximize Free Trials: Before deciding on a particular tool, take advantage of free trials. This will help you understand whether a tool truly meets your needs before you commit financially.

Data Backup: Tools like Google Workspace and QuickBooks contain critical data. Ensure that you have a data backup system in place to prevent any loss.

The perfect tech stack doesn't just involve selecting the right tools, but also leveraging them in the most effective way to suit your specific operational needs.


Remember, the experience of one founder may differ from that of another. While these are the tools that worked for me, it's crucial to assess your specific needs and choose a tech-stack that works best for you. With the right tools, you can streamline your operations and focus on what truly matters: growing your business.


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This post was written by Adam Spector, Founder and CEO of Levy, and a Founder Institute mentor.

Levy empowers forward-thinking companies that recognize the key to success lies in focusing on their core competencies and outsourcing the rest. Ispecializes in managing back-office operations across four critical verticals: HR, equity, compliance, and finance. 

Take advantage of Levy's discount for companies of the Founder Institute network

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