Our favorite digital tools for building startups: Workflow Management and Research Edition
Spoiler alert: Slack and userinterviews.com are our must haves
By: The Studio Team at 25madison
In the words of our CEO Steven Price, “instant gratification isn’t fast enough.” In our early-stage world, speed and efficiency are paramount. To that end, our digital toolset is critical to enable fast communication, learning, development, creation, and deployment. Over the years, we’ve tested out dozens of digital tools, ultimately landing on the below run-down of our must-haves for workflow management and research (keep an eye out for future articles on our favorite creation and marketing tools). But we’re always searching for new tools, or new ways to use old tools. So please reach out with your own pro-tips and must-haves. We’re all ears.
Til then, we’ll be busy working away in our go-to platforms:
slack: Communication Hero
It may be the most obvious tool on the list, but it’s absolutely the tool we can’t live without. When slack was down for a few hours in early 2021, our team felt stranded — how do we communicate now? Email? Say it ain’t so.
What we’ve found most useful within slack is to set up a separate slack workspace for each of our incubated companies, which allows the company to add any full-time employees, contractors, and agencies to that slack instance while allowing members of the 25madison team to hop between. Plus, it lends the ability to call team members 1:1 in an instant, no scheduling required, which mimics the feeling of stopping by their desk.
With our workday attention being more and more managed by slack, we see it emerging as a new marketplace for innovation through apps like Donut, Polly, and Watercooler. In fact, we’re getting in the game ourselves. Check out one of our latest projects: Axl, a new productivity app delivering personalized, calendar-aware breaks and healthy actions.
Notion: Company wiki
Notion has become our favorite tool to easily archive and reference important company docs and notes. For each of our incubated companies, we set up a notion account where we’ll drop links and helpful background context on things like company strategy, brand development, product research, and company roadmaps. With its live collaborative functionality, it’s also a great spot to drop meeting agendas where you can take notes on the fly and share out with the team in real-time. Notion also has handy templates for workflow management like content creation calendars, to-do management (which we’ve retrofitted to function like a kanban QA board when needed), and more. It’s a pretty flexible tool with lots of uses. And who doesn’t love their auto-generated emoji features? If you have interesting ways you’re using Notion that we didn’t mention here, we’d love to hear.
Airtable: Spreadsheets on steroids
Whoever thought spreadsheets could be so pretty and so fun? We’ve used Airtable for project management, vendor evaluation, time management, competitive audits, and more. We like that it’s got more flexibility than your typical spreadsheet, like adding video and imagery within cells. The platform also offers many ways that you can visualize the data, and each team member can have their own view, based on what they like best.
userinterviews.com: Qualitative interview sourcing
Think of the most specific target audience you want to learn about. Now imagine if and how you’re going to reach them. Your answer: userinterviews, our go-to for live, qualitative consumer research.
userinterviews has delivered for us again and again. We’ve tested concepts where the set of screener questions was extensive, and we thought the search for users to interview would not deliver. But we were wrong. There are so many users on this platform that you are sure to find who you are looking for. And, when you do, the experience will be nothing less than pleasant. The process of finding and booking participants is so easy, and you’ll get to talk to real people who will offer honest feedback on your idea or product. Oh, and they manage incentives too! No more tracking Amazon gift cards on your own.
Congrats to userinterviews.com on their Series A. We’re huge fans!
Pollfish: Quant research with participant recruiting
We conduct a lot of research. We’re always looking to understand consumer interests and behaviors on a quantitative basis that we can augment with qualitative interviews. Pollfish has become our go-to for conducting quant research on market assessments, product concept testing, and developing brand elements. It’s very fast and intuitive to build surveys, and Pollfish does the recruiting for you at affordable prices. Not to mention it’s FAST. We often get survey results within hours — a welcome timeframe for startups. We’ve developed survey templates (by duplicating old surveys) which saves tons of time while also fostering consistency among our studies. Over time, we’ve begun to know what good looks like among demographics (e.g., millennials vs. boomers) and among industries (e.g., CPG vs. finance).
Otter.ai: seamless user interview transcription
With so many qualitative interviews taking place during our research phase, it’s important to be able to quickly share out an easily consumable version of the discussions for team members and for long-term archiving. That’s where Otter.ai comes in. Otter easily syncs with Zoom to transcribe recordings. Bonus: it learns people’s voices over time to get better at transcribing that individual’s language with each new recording.
What are your favorite tools?
What are your go-to workflow management and research tools that we need to know about? We’re always looking for new tools to make our work more efficient, so please send your favorite tools our way! Right now we’re specifically looking for great tools for content creation. Let us know what video and animation creation tools are working for you.