5
5 Comments

What is the minimum viable "company stack"?

One thing I've been thinking about when it comes to starting a company in support of releasing a product is what the "company stack" should include. Much like a tech stack, my work experience so far has taught me that companies have their own stacks of behind the scenes software, services, and processes stitched together to form the actual fabric of the company - the thing that allows your day-to-day operations (ie. developing software) to happen.

For instance, here's an example company stack:

  • Incorporation: Stripe Atlas
  • HR & Benefits: Gusto
  • Accounting: Quickbooks
  • Expense Reports: Expensify
  • Banking: SVB
  • Email: GSuite
  • Communication: Slack
  • Documents: Notion
  • Password Management: 1Password
  • Data Warehouse: BigQuery

Then, there are some actual roles you'd likely need as a bare minimum (whether in-house or external):

  • Legal
  • Accounting

As I've done some research on this kind of thing, it's been hard to tell how much of a company's company stack was slowly built over time, and how much was / should be necessary right from the beginning.

So what I'm wondering is:

  • What is the bare minimum "company stack" you'd need to launch a product?
  • How would it need to change to support different stages of growth?
  • Is there a better / more common name for this than "company stack"?
  1. 2

    I think you need way WAY less than you’ve listed here to launch.

    I would say all you need is:

    • somewhere to host your code
    • domain name

    And maybe that’s it.

    If you start to gain serious traction then you can THINK about incorporating and maybe get help with accounts.

    Legal, HR etc don’t need to come till much further down the line in my opinion.

    1. 1

      Totally fair!

      The example stack I gave wasn't what I thought the bare minimum might be though, just the kind of stack I've encountered at companies I've worked at so far.

      That's part of what's made this seem so complicated - even though I've worked at some "small-ish" startups (at least they were when I joined), they all had pretty extensive company stacks by the time I joined. It's hard to figure out what you need right away, also because I feel like this isn't talked about anywhere near as much as tech stacks (probably because it's waaaay less exciting to think about for us indie hackers).

  2. 1

    Hello Dolphinado!

    This is a really interesting post! As someone who's been on the "non-tech" as well as "tech/engineering" side, I do agree that having a stack like this from the get-go is often helpful.

    If we're talking "bare minimum", I'd argue that unless they are part of the USP,
    Incorporation, HR & Benefits and Data Warehouse can be ignored at the start (again, if your product is a US-based HR software utilizing AI, these very 3 would be essential).
    I would add a couple of items:

    • Domain Registrar (many people like Google Domains but I prefer Porkbun)
    • Hosting (could be something like Vercel or a VPS or even shared hosting).

    Also, I think that it helps having fewer tools initially so personally I'm a fan of Zoho for starting projects as it ticks many of the boxes:
    Communication: Cliq
    Email: Zoho Mail
    Documents: Zoho Docs + Zoho Workdrive
    Password Management: Zoho Vault

    I also recently shifted to Zoho Books for accounting but since it's not free, I'm not adding it to this list.

    Everything else is really circumstantial e.g. it might be easier to just use your existing Google Account for passwords, documents, storage and so on. Similarly, you could just set up templates in Notion and do all of the above quickly for the initial stages.

    How would the stack change?
    Depends on the industry and product e.g. after some time it might be worth investing into a CRM to track your leads, Buffer, Hootsuite or similar to manage social media, CI/CD tools, consultants to handle legal and finance matters, and so on.

    But to be completely honest, I think all you need for the MVP is time and persistence because there are plenty of free tools to help along the way 😊.

    1. 1

      Thanks so much for this!!

      • Domain Registrar (many people like Google Domains but I prefer Porkbun)
      • Hosting (could be something like Vercel or a VPS or even shared hosting).

      Ahh good point - I omitted these because I was counting them under "tech stack" in my head, but I suppose it could go either way.

      Also, I think that it helps having fewer tools initially

      That makes a lot of sense - I guess a lot of folks use GSuite / Google Workspace as their one stop shop, but I find almost every service it comes with except Gmail, GCal, Drive, and Meet to be really half-baked. I think Notion could cover a lot of use cases that might otherwise need more specialized tools if you use it right (like, it could probably be my CRM until I outgrow it). It's been awhile since I've looked at Zoho though.

  3. 1

    When I think bare minimum / MVP I think a lot smaller than you.

    The incorporation and similar stuff depends on your country, I guess Stripe Atlas is good for americans? But here in Finland you just register one by submitting a form, 500 bucks sounds overpriced.

    Tools:

    • Payment processing: Whatever fits your customers, we do B2B so a lot of PDF invoicing, you can find a free template online.
    • Accounting: Google sheets + Zapier
    • HR & Benefits: None
    • Email: GSuite
    • Communication: Discord, has more or less same as slack but wit ha lot better free tier.
    • Documents: Google Docs & Drive
    • Expense Reports: Google Sheets
    • Banking: Whatever fits your country
    • Password Management: Google handles it for you, sync your google chrome across browsers and your phone

    Roles:

    • External accountant/auditor is often a requirement, we got an accountant because i'm too busy to make sure the books are correct.
    • Legal can be necessary, but basic understanding of how to write your contracts can get you quite far.

    How would it need to change to support different stages of growth?

    Well, in my opinion each story is unique, we naturally started with low costs and then only took on costs when we needed them. For example hire a sales team => Get them tools to help them sell, such as a CRM, B2B leads lists, Linkedin Sales Navigator. But if you're in a different environment you might be investing more into marketing related tools.

Trending on Indie Hackers
How I went from 500€ to 5300€ MRR in one month as a UX coach and indie founder 28 comments How I made $10k teaching vim online in one month 9 comments 💯 USERS 💯 DAYS 7 comments Launch went well. Traffic is falling. Now what? 6 comments Using Twitter questions to build a parallel community 6 comments Can you give me some feedback? 5 comments