Hollywood celebrities get free perks that they could easily afford, so do the darlings of Silicon Valley. The best tech perks get awarded to start-ups that already have funding from VCs and support from Startup Accelerators. When applying for SaaS credits to help your new business, you’re often asked which exclusive club you’re part of – Techstars, Y Combinator, Seedcamp…
But what if you don’t want to give up part of your company? You want to keep 100% of equity, but get a helping hand with costs at the R&D and launch stages? I’m in this scenario, as I get ready to launch Piggy Domains.
So why do you have to pay, when VC backed companies get thousands of dollars in free credit at providers such as AWS, DigitalOcean and Stripe? You’re probably going to be more grateful and loyal to the provider than a YC Alumni. My best guess is that VC backed companies burn through cash faster, so the “free credits” get used up quicker and they become a big billable client.
I did once apply to join Techstars in early 2014, working on a start-up called “Made Contact” with my friend and former co-worker, Carl Hendy. Unfortunately, the start-up never launched. We lost two core developers in succession, spent too much time on the Techstars process and not enough on the product itself. Those developers left to build Buzzsumo and Inbound.org, so they probably made the right choice.
But what about Piggy Domains? Must I pay for my AWS servers like some kind of common schmuck? Hell no! It’s time to get Perk Hacking.
Piggy won’t get anywhere as an Indie Hacker’s side-hustle, I needed to get Silicon Valley credibility. WeWork is almost like a Startup Incubator, offering a hive of knowledge and community, but for a monthly fee instead of an equity share. Sure enough, members also get a plethora of tech perks. A ticket into the kingdom of free beer and kombucha can cost over $1,000 a month though, and my closest WeWork is 150 miles away.
Down at the bottom of the “Workspace” page though, is “We Membership”. For just $45 a month, you can join the WeWork family to book rooms, desks and most importantly for us, get perks! 99% of the WeWork perks are nothing to shout about, with small discounts that can be found anywhere on the internet. But the two that stood out for me were AWS and Stripe.
Amazon Web Services (Servers)
Perk: $5,000 in AWS credit (expires in 12 months)
This is a huge perk and worth the WeWork membership alone. $5,000 could easily cover the server infrastructure costs of most small startups for an entire year. If you plan to use AWS and stay a WeWork member for a year, it’s a cost saving of $4,460 ($5,000 minus 12x $45/month)!
Stripe (Payment Processing)
Perk: No fees/costs on $20,000 / £15,000 in transactions (expires in 12 months)
Stripe is overtaking PayPal as the default method of taking payments online. If your startup uses WooCommerce, Magento, Memberpress, Memberful or a framework such as Laravel Spark or RoR Bullet Train, you’ll probably use Stripe for payments. I was planning to use Paddle for Piggy (because it handles VAT and Multi-currency for you) but this Stripe offer is just too good! If your startup charged a monthly fee of $99 and had 50 customers, you’d have four months without any processing fees at a saving of $652 (calculated using Bootstrap Money).
The other WeWork perks that stood out for me were:
- GoSquared – 50% discount for 3 months
- Intercom – 50% discount for 3 months (their Early Stage offer might be cheaper)
- InVision – 12 months free
- Ace Hotels – 30% discount on rooms
Product Hunt – Ship
Product Hunt is what first made me start hunting for perks, when they launched “Ship“. The service helps you to launch your startup with landing pages, mailings and support. Ship also offers amazing perks to people who pay annually in advance.
The “Pro” package ($708/year) offers $5,000 in AWS credit, but that’s $168/year more expensive than WeWork. They also have a “Super Pro” package that costs $2,388/year, which is $1,848/year more than WeWork. *But* it offers $7,500 in AWS credit. If you’re going to use AWS a lot, “Super Pro” could make sense for your business, with a $5,112 cost saving ($7,500 minus $2,388) versus WeWork’s $4,460 saving ($5,000 minus $540).
Where “Ship” wins over WeWork though, is Stripe perks. You’ll get a whopping $50,000 in fee-free transactions, 150% more than WeWork’s $20,000. That’ll keep your 50 customers at $99/month going for 10 months without fees, saving $1,630 in transaction fees.
“Founder Club” is relatively new to Product Hunt. It was probably born out of the realisation that a lot of people were signing up to “Ship” for the perks, rather than the product. It costs $720/year and offers arguably a lot better tech perks than WeWork, for $180/year more. The AWS perk is equal to WeWork and Ship Pro, at $5,000. The Stripe perk’s value is hidden on the website, but I’ve been told that it’s $50,000 in fee-free transactions, like Ship Pro. So it’s $12/year more expensive than Ship Pro, but it comes with a lot more perks. These include AirTable, ZenDesk, Segment, Notion and TypeForm.
I have a lot of love for DigitalOcean – almost “fanboy” status. DO’s mascot, Sammy, is the only sticker on my MacBook. I use my DigitalOcean laptop bag on a daily basis. I even sleep sometimes in a blue DigitalOcean t-shirt (too much information?). It just pains me that they don’t offer the same credits as AWS, via WeWork or ProductHunt. Their “Hatch” program offers 12 months of infrastructure credit, but only to startups backed by major Venture Capitalists and Startup Accelerators. That said, I have been offered a sizeable account credit (beating AWS) in the past for a SaaS called LogCrawl, that I plan to launch after Piggy. No matter how much I love DO, the credit was probably only given because my last company was spending ~$5,000/month with them at the time. Perhaps WeWork, Product Hunt and DigitalOcean can get around a table to work something out, so that Piggy (and you) can launch on DO with a $7,500 credit, instead of AWS. *nudge* Ryan Hoover & Mitch Wainer *nudge*.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask
I’m a developer building my first start-up at X and would love to use Y, but it’s out of my price range right now. Can you offer any discounted rates or free months for startups, to help me launch and grow? I’ll be a loyal customer and hopefully make you lots of money in the long term.
I’ve achieved a lot in my career by being cheeky and remembering that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. In most cases, it costs a SaaS, PaaS or IaaS very little to offer you a perk or a helping hand. You just need to convince them that you’re worth the hassle in the long-run. So set some time aside to contact every supplier that you plan to use (and their competitors) to see what you can get.
What Did I Miss?
Please do retweet, like, leave your comments, thoughts and recommendations on the Twitter thread here. If you know of any amazing offers or Perk Hacks, email or DM me and I can add them to this article.