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🙊 How to save money with startup deals
+ Unconventional ways to save money and extend your runway
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Starting a startup can be an exciting and thrilling journey, but it can also be a costly one. As a first-time founder, finding ways to save money is crucial. For today’s post, Ali and I have teamed up to find you the best deals and unexpected ways to save money for first-time startup founders.
From cloud credits with Google and AWS to advertising credits, productivity tools like Notion and Miro, and even email and SMS services, we've got you covered. However, saving money isn't just about finding the best deals, it's also about being resourceful and thinking outside the box. So, buckle up and get ready to learn some unconventional ways to save money and extend your runway.
Let’s dive in!
Finance and Legal Deals
Incorporation (Stripe Atlas, Doola, Clerky)
We have found the YC startup school program (YC SUS) to be the best avenue to get discounts on products that help founders incorporate in the US. The program is easy to join and does not have any barriers. It has partnerships with Stripe Atlas, Doula, and Clerky.
Stripe Atlas - YC SUS founders can receive Stripe Atlas business formation for $250, instead of $500.
Doola: YC SUS founders can receive the“Start Your Business” package for $225, instead of $500 (55% off)
Clerky: YC SUS founders can get access to Company Lifetime Package for only $699 instead of $4781; this package includes incorporation and other company legal products (e.g. fundraising, hiring, etc)
Cap table management (Carta)
The most popular cap management software in the market right now is Carta. Fortunately, it is free to use for startups with up to 25 security holders and up to $1M raised through its Carta Launch program.
If you don’t qualify for the free version, you can also get 20% off your first-year fee by being a customer of either Ramp or Stripe corporate cards. Alternatively, you can also get this 20% through AWS Activate.
Insurance and compliance (Embroker, Vanta)
If you are looking at Embroker as a business insurance vendor for your startup, you can use this coupon code to get 20% off.
If you are looking to up your compliance game, Vanta is likely the platform to go. We found two deals for you. If you are a Ramp customer, you can get 25% off a Vanta subscription; however, if you don’t have Ramp, you can use this coupon code to get $1000 off your payment.
Accounting (Quickbooks, Xero, Pilot)
The best deal for Quickbooks is for founders who are customers of Brex, in which case you get 30% off your first year.
The best deal for Xero is for founders who are customers of Ramp. Ramp customers get a 25% off Xero Business plan. You can get similar deal by being a Carta customer.
For Pilot, both AWS Activate and Stripe Corporate cards offer 20% off for the first six months.
Banking/expense management (Brex, Mercury, Ramp, Expensify)
If you are looking to get Brex, the best deal is a $1000 sign-up bonus and waived card fees through Segment’s Startup Program. The segment startup program requires an application but it is open to most startups that are incorporated less than two years ago and raised no more than $5M in total funding.
If this deal does not work out, go through YC startup school. You can get $500 Brex cash after spending $3K and another $100 after spending $3K on a Brex card.
Similarly, you can secure discounts for Mercury if you have access to either YC startup school or Segment’s Startup Program. Segment offers a slightly better deal;a $500 signing bonus with no spending requirement. With YC SUS, you must spend $10K on your debit card within 180 days of approval.
Ramp - Free platform plan + $500 after you spent $10K if you are a Carta customer
Expensify - 50% off for six months if you have Stripe corporate cards
People and Ops Deals
HR and payroll (Rippling, Deel, Gusto, Guideline)
From employee management software to employee benefits platform, there are a variety of deals and discounts available to help founders keep their expenses in check.
Here are the ones we found:
Rippling: Stripe Corporate Card customers and Carta customers get 6 months free to try out Rippling. If you want a good discount instead, being a Ramp customer helps. Ramp customers get 10% off all Rippling products.
Deel: the best option is with Ramp - 50% off contractors and 20% off full-time employees for 12 months. YC SUS also offers favorable discounts - 3 months free, then 30% off for contractors, and 20% off full-time employees for 12 months. If neither works, try AWS Activate. You can get the first month free for contractors and 10% off for full-time employees.
Gusto: Brex can get you 50% off the first year for Brex customers while Stripe Corporate Card can offer 3 months free.
Guideline 401K: Stripe Corporate Card customers can get fees waived for the first three months
Recruitment (Lemon, Gun.io, Revelo, LinkedIn Premium)
We found some great coupons for three popular platforms for recruiting engineers.
Revelo: they help you hire vetted remote devs from LatAm. You can get 20% off the first three months using this coupon.
Lemon: Lemon matches companies with vetted engineers. You can get 15% off the first month using this coupon.
Gun.io: Another platform to find and hire quality developers. You can get $250 off your first dev hire using this coupon.
If you prefer to reach out to potential candidates yourself, consider joining Microsoft for Startups, which will qualify you for three-month subscription to LinkedIn Recruiter Lite, Sales Navigator Core, and LinkedIn Premium Business.
Customer Support (Freshworks, Zendesk, Intercom, CleverTap, Helpware)
For Freshworks, the best deal is $10,000 credits split across its eight product lines. This same deal is offered through multiple channels:
Member of Freshworks for Startups
YC SUS member
For Zendesk, the best deal is a free subscription to Zendesk for six months. You can get this deal by applying to Zendesk for Startups (requires that you have raised some outside funding including Angel). Alternatively, you can also get the same deal by being either a Ramp customer or a Stripe Corporate Card customer.
For Intercom, you can get 100% off your first year by being a Stripe Corporate Card customer or an AWS Activate member. Alternatively, you can get 95% off if you participate in Intercom’s Startup Program. To qualify for this startup program, you can’t have more than $1M in funding or more than 5 employees.
Clevertap: get 50% off the first year by being a part of their startup program or being a member of AWS Activate.
Helpware: $1000 off coupon code here
Communication software (Slack)
The best deal for Slack is 30% off on your first year using AWS Activate. Alternatively, you can get 25% off on your first year of Slack Pro or Business+ if you use this special promo link.
Brex or Ramp customers get the same 25% off.
Cloud/hosting (AWS, Google Cloud)
Hosting and cloud services can be a significant expense for startups and small businesses. Both AWS and Google Cloud offer various programs for startups and small businesses.
To navigate these programs, we broke them into two categories:
For Funded Startups
For Bootstrapped and/or Side Projects
1. For Funded Startups:
Google Cloud Startup program is a simple and straightforward option for funded startups.
It offers up to 100k in credits for companies that raised equity funding (from pre-seed to Series A). Startups can apply directly on Google's website without the need for external affiliations.
AWS, on the other hand, offers up to 100k in credits for startups through AWS Activate. These companies must have:
Raised more than $500k
Not yet raised a Series B
To receive the full credit, apply through Carta's startup program, Silicon Valley Bank, Mercury (with a minimum deposit of 250k), Ramp, Brex or an affiliated investor/accelerator.
It's important to note that when redeeming credits, it's best to use smaller credits first. AWS will not accept a credit that is equal to or less than one that has already been received.
2. For Bootstrapped Startups / Side Projects
We recommend using AWS for bootstrapped startups and small businesses looking to reduce their hosting and cloud service costs.
Segment's Startup Program offers the highest amount of credit with up to $25k in AWS credit, while companies incorporating through Stripe Atlas can receive $10k credit.
For those not planning to incorporate or use Segment, the alternatives are:
AWS Activate for Founders program (up to $10k, depending on usage)
AWS Proof of Concept program ($1k)
CreditHero (up to 2k/month shared by indie developers with excess credits)
Additionally, you can sign up for the AWS Educate series and receive $100 in credit or develop an Alexa skill and receive $25.
If none of these options work for you, there are paid subscriptions that offer AWS credit perks such as:
Secret Startup Deals Subscription
Product Hunt Pro Ship Subscription
Alternatively, you can use Google Cloud and receive $2,000 in credits by applying directly on their website, without needing external affiliations.
Analytics (Mixpanel, Amplitude & more)
For event-tracking, the two go-to players, Mixpanel and Amplitude, offer a generous deal for startups.
Mixpanal offers $50,000 in credit for 1 yea best accessed through their startup program. Whilst Amplitude offers its own startup program that offers $40,000 in credit for one year. For session replays, heatmaps, and more, you can receive 1 year of free FullStory using Segment’s startup program or use PostHog's generous free plan.
CrazyEgg: 3 months off any plan (Paid)
Productivity (Notion, Coda, Airtable, Miro & more)
For all-in-one productivity tools, you can go with Notion, Coda or Airtable:
For companies with more than 20 employees, a better deal is 50 free seats for 12 months, available through Product Hunt’s Founders Club. Founders Club costs $720 and offers a variety of other perks.
If Notion is not your thing, you can receive a $1000 credit from Coda using their competing startup program.
For prototyping and brainstorming your options are Miro, Invision or Figma:
Miro is best accessed through AWS activate where you get $1000 in credits compared to the standard $500 on Miro’s website. A fallback option is using Founderpass to get the same $1000 deal. However, this route will cost $99.
For Invision, the best deal is 6 months off which you can get using this link. Figma has a generous free plan and doesn’t offer startup discounts.
Grammarly: 20% using this link
Fellow (meeting management): $1000 credit using this link
Docsend: 90% using AWS activate
1password: 25% off of Family plans using this link
Sales and Marketing Deals
Ad Credit (Snapchat, Linkedin, Tiktok)
We explored various deals and offers and found the most promising ones in Snapchat, LinkedIn, and TikTok:
Snapchat: Snapchat is offering a valuable $3000 credit for Ramp customers. An additional 5% cashback is available for those using a Stripe Corporate Card. Even for those who may not qualify for these offers, Snapchat still has an introductory promotion where users can claim a $375 credit after spending $350.
Tiktok: startups can claim $100-$500 by creating a Shopify account. While the process may be a bit cumbersome, it is worth it.
Reddit: $100 credit, no-spend requirement
Bing: $500 credit after you spend $250
Google: $500 credit after you spend $500
CRM (Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive)
Salesforce, Hubspot, and Pipedrive, three major players in the CRM market, have all rolled out programs and discounts specifically tailored to startups:
Salesforce: Use their Startups Program to get 50% off first year. Other startup programs or discount sites we looked at were either on par or worse.
Hubspot: Use their startup program directly to get 90% off the first year. However, you will need to be associated with one of their partners. Luckily F6s is a Hubspot partner. You can create a free account here.
Pipedrive: If you are looking for an affordable CRM down the line. You can get 50% off the first year through AWS Activate. If you don’t qualify for AWS active, use this link for 30% off.
Close: an up-and-coming CRM for startups with under 100 sales reps, offers $1200 credit for startups with under $2m in funding.
Emails & SMS (TinyEmail, Customer.io, Hubspot)
We've both evaluated different Email and SMS services in our respective jobs. With many undifferentiated offerings, it can be an overwhelming process to navigate.
Here are the best providers (& deals) we've found:
TinyEmail If you are looking for the most affordable email marketing solution(as we were), nothing will beat TinyEmail’s $49 lifetime offer available through Appsumo.
Customer.io If you are looking for the most comprehensive automation solution go with Customer io. You can get 100% off their basic plan or 90% off their premium plan through several partners/programs. Segment’s startup program is the easiest one.
Hubspot: For everyone else, we recommend Hubspot. You can get 90% off the first year on their Marketing automation product using Hubspot for Startups program.
SendinBlue: 75% off using Secret (Costs $19)
*Special* AI deal
OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT and GPT-3 offers every new signup $18 in trial credit. However, by signing up for Microsoft’s for Startups program you will receive an additional $2,500 in credits, which equates to around 7m+ words generated by their language models.
That is all we have for today. Talk soon.