There is one thing no one wants to waste; it is time.
Working behind a desk or in a mobile fashion means developing a natural organisation for efficiency. But as you grow, you want to find a sustainable way to scale efficiency to your colleagues and harmonise. Here are some gears and tools that save my colleagues and me some precious hours. I learned so much on Medium from others people’s setups that I felt I’ll share my findings on what works for me and why.
Let’s start with the hardware.
I run two different systems for two purposes. My mac environment runs on a MacBook Pro connected to a GPU station with a Radeon graphic card. Why? I sometimes need to open files that require heavy computer power or manage my video processing, as I use a lot of videos for internal meetings. I usually keep a very low graphic card in my notebook as I prefer them smaller for taking them on the train or a plane. The external GPU compensates significantly for that.
My other PC is a Corsair One and acts as a server, files repository, and working station for 3d and gaming station when my kids want to test themselves at a strategy game when I am not on Deus Ex or Cyberpunk 2077.
Both are connected to an Alienware 34″ display curved screen, which is the perfect size for running two web pages side by side.
Mobile activities are run through an iPhone, which I mainly use for text messages, as I mostly chat from my Mac. For some reason, I stopped using my Ipad since my kids stole it from me to play a game with a weird goat…
On videos and lighting, I have most of my setup coming from Elgato, a fine brand if you want to start streaming, and my mic is a Røde which is the best investment ever completed by a Nuraphone headset for listening to music.
Logitech is pushing me with a craft keyboard and an Mx Master 3 series mouse.
All in all, very pleased with that setup for doing 80% … Chrome work. Yes, I know pretty lame when you think of it. Like many people, I guess I am a victim of tab overload…
Some of the apps that make my life easier.
On my mac, I use mainly the following apps:
- Chrome: I had to choose one browser, and being a google workspace company, the choice is easy
- Whatsapp for Desktop: for personal stuff
- Slack for desktop: working remotely with our team across the world without it is impossible
- Apple Mail: mostly to clean up and declutter by moving emails from one box to the other
- Apple Calendar: for a bird’s view of the multiple calendars
- Delineato: brainstorming app (love the minimal approach)
- Discord for desktop: mid-journey prompts and keeping myself updated on sim-racing and gaming
- Descript: recording videos and screencasting
- Rectangle: some order for mac windows
- 1password: I don’t recall remembering a password now
- Google Drive for desktop: my unlimited space at a click reach
- Adobe Xd: prototyping and reviewing projects
- Microsoft Teams: obligated to submit to it
- Microsoft Outlook: feeling punished when using it
- Adobe Photoshop: mostly when I need to review stuff
- Adobe Indesign: reviewing printables
Looking at my usage in 2022, most of it was 1password, Google Drive and Google Chrome. I can’t live without Google anymore…
You find the same list on my PC except for more gaming platforms and no apple products.
What about online tools on Chrome
I have switched entirely to Chrome right from the beginning, and it is becoming my go-to-platform for everything; here are my top saas tools:
- Cloudways: managed VPS where we host websites (we are a silver partner, reach us for prices)
- Cloudflare: DDOS protection and DNS zone management
- Gandi: corporate and global registrars (we are .swiss resellers)
- Digital Ocean: Kubernetes and droplets management for testing new apps
- AWS: managing our S3, CloudFront and EC2 setup
- Google Cloud Platform: managing our API for google maps and other credentials
- Closte: VPS running on LiteSpeed tech (mostly for very high load setup)
- GitHub: repo for cloning and finding snippets
- Gitlab: private code built by me or my team
- Browserstack: QA for web and mobile apps
- Jira: agile for DevOps
Venture Capital & Investments
- Leva: Managing Swiss SPVs
- Vauban: Managing non-Swiss LPs and SPVs
- Etoro: investment in non-Swiss ETFs and stocks
- Swissborg: Investment in cryptos
- CB Insights: keeping updates on the startup’s markets
- Pitchbook: scouting and data analysis
- Angel list: discovering new founders
- Product hunt: finding new products
- Youtube: new way to consume media
- New York Times: keeping eyes on the world
- Bilan: keeping eyes on swiss business news
- Google news: keeping eyes on politics
- Feedly: syndicating the news
- Youtube Music: waking up the neighbours
- Streamyeard: for streaming to the world
Project & Team Management
- Workona: reduce tab loads on chrome
- Google Voice: international phone lines
- Google Meet: videoconferences and streams
- Mavenlink: project management and time tracking
- Gmail: email management
- Google Calendar: time and tasks management
- Google Drive: digital asset management
- Notion: intranet and brain repository (we are a reseller; reach us for more info)
- Kumo: a file transfer protocol featuring web-torrent technology, protecting your privacy (yes, we have built it, you can use it too)
- Google Workspace: managing emails and stuff (we are a reseller; reach us for more info)
- Scribe: managing signatures on emails
- Google Groups: managing redirections of emails
- Google Keep: quick notes daily
- Google Contacts: managing everyone’s phone contacts
- Pandadoc: contract templates and e-signatures
- ePost: Swiss post-digital services such as scanning my mail
- Pingen: sending physical letters all over the world from your desk
- Dext: managing invoicing and expenses and sending them to Xero
- UBS: our bank, doing the job, loves their e-banking
- Axa: our insurance company, keeping it simple and super efficient
- Centre patronal: the social insurance platform… (If you guys need help… contact us)
- Xero: our accounting tool for invoicing and managing the closing
- Revolut Business: our online bank for paying for goods and services
- Linkedin: sourcing talents
- Indeed: finding talents
Marketing & Sales
- Mailchimp: advanced HTML email templates because Hubspot sucks on this
- Combin: Instagram automation
- Hopin: online summits & conferences
- Zapier: whatever automation
- Crowdin: translation management
- Eventbrite: events and tickets management
- Madgicx: high-frequency media buying
- Mandrill: reflex marketing campaigns
- Google Adwords: advertising on google
- Google Analytics: understanding the impact of online activities
- Google Locker Studio: sharing insights
- Miro: brainstorming and workshops
- Hubspot: CRM and marketing ops
- Apollo: lead management
- Chat GPT: answer’s engine
- Linkedin Learning: self-development
- SEMrush: SEO and more
- Awwwards: inspiration
- Behance: inspiration and showcase
- Dribbble: sourcing of talents
- Pinterest: mood boards and benchmarks
- Envato Elements: repo of graphical design templates
- Canva Pro: replacing graphic designers with this tool
- Unsplash: fresh imagery
- Vimeo: private repo for creative videos
- Linkedin: where my pro network is
- Treatmybrand: where my inner network is (you can request access here)
- Medium: learning and sharing professional experience, especially for VC stuff
- Substack: self-learning and development
- Instagram: looking at art stuff and cars
- Facebook: following my mum’s chronicles
- Twitter: following Elon Musk chronicles
- Discord: talking to bots such as Mid-journey
- Twitch: watching talk shows of geeks in pyjamas playing games
My chrome extensions
- 1password: simplifying my life with password directly on chrome
- Apollo: augmenting my data around contacts from websites such as LinkedIn
- Hubspot social: posting on social media from anywhere
- Notion helper: saving webpages to Notion
- Grammarly: fixing my English (thank you, French schooling)
- Whatfont: finding font used by websites
- Colorzilla: seeing colours used by websites
- Tag assistant: checking that websites are running the rights google tags
- Wanteeed: adding coupons codes to shops
- Facebook pixel helper: checking if pixels are in place
- Google Optimize: running A/B testing
- VidIQ: extra amount of data around video on Tiktok and Youtube
- Browserstack: selenium testing from the browser
- PhantomBuster: automating my social media life
Some principles to use for setting your digital workplace: adoption x scalability
Well, that’s a lot of tools if you ask me. This is just internal. I need to add here the tools and software our startups are using, or our customers run. I do keep my google calendar pristine to block time to run all of this depending on what I am asked to work on:
- For allegory capital, it is primarily spreadsheets and slide decks—a bunch of online platforms to prepare data rooms. To work on the marketing and the management of the firm, many of the tools used at Kainjoo are the ones I use here as well.
- For Kainjoo, consulting and preparing workshops is simple as we use perhaps Miro in addition and a bit more Adobe Suite products. Of course, our colleagues’ marketing, creative, and tech stacks are there, adding complexity. I take pride in being able to talk with anyone in my company who is running any software, which makes someone earn trust at the table.
When choosing your various stacks, first of all, align your needs with the team. Here is a deck where we tried to put all our requirements on a one-pager.
Once you have identified these candidates, test them with the most adaptive and reluctant members of your team, as it will feed your adoption strategy. At some point, call the shots and decide, as the more you ask, the more you might receive an answer. The worst is having no rules and people bringing all their habits and tools to the party. So yes, for the democratic approach, appoint someone to be the guardian of a consistent information system strategy at some point.
Once the adoption is figured out, you must future-proof all of this. My recommendation is to work with layers. For instance, my source of truth for files in my organisation is Google Drive, meaning we refused to upload physical documents to other SAAS tools. Why? Take care of this rule to avoid losing bits of data everywhere, and most of these solutions have retention loops designed to keep you in because of the data you have uploaded. By ensuring that the source of truth is in one place and filtering your solutions through which one can stream files, you will end up with new shortlisted candidates.
That strategy is essential as, philosophically, your digital workplace will have two possible directions:
- A single solution is doing everything, where you “accept” not to have all the tools but focus on adopting the most of what it offers. This works well if you have a few processes, are well-designed, and you can have everything under one roof. As examples, you can see Microsofts and the Office and Teams suite, SAP, Infomaniak or Zoho. Google drive could be one of them, but the open architecture makes them an easy switch to my second point.
- Take the bests tools for each need and interconnect them through API. The advantage is that through SSO (Single Sign On), you can keep your team using their credentials to provision licenses and monitor costs while ensuring each team has the best inc lass solution for their need. I found it more resilient to a fast-changing environment but could be more challenging for training and adoption as you have to ask people to switch to your company tools when they onboard or to switch too often when they go from one process to the other. This is why we use Notion internally to keep track of everything and document these procedures.
Finally, this becomes critical if you want to file for ISO 9001 and 27001. At Kainjoo, we have expertise in supporting organisations in getting quality systems using cloud-based solutions. The hygiene to take the above steps is a prerequisite before jumping into quality certifications.
Bonus: benchmark these SAAS solutions for inspiration
These products are also a great way to learn how to take the best out of their roadmap and growth strategy and apply it to our startups and customers’ projects. Their interface, the way they onboard customers and their pricing models is exciting to apply to digital health or fintech startups.
I hope this post is helpful, not only because I disclose the list of tools used in my organisations but mostly to give you the approach required to reverse engineer these choices and adapt them to yours, wherever you are a startup or a large pharma organisation.
Do you have experience with the same stacks of tools? Did you discover a new one? Do you have alternatives to share with us? Please feel free to comment below.