First Time Founder Finance Stack – Boring Startup Stuff

First Time Founder Finance Stack

You’ve got a golden idea, a solid product, and maybe even a few customers. You think this thing has legs, and you are ready to go after it. Suddenly you realize that running a startup isn’t just about building products late into the night. How will you pay people? How are you going to manage the company finances? How do you keep track of your cap table? 

Searching for the right tools today can feel like sifting through a landfill. Most google searches provide four or five advertisements before returning what you want, and every other website discussing startup financial stacks is getting kickbacks for writing a 1500-word piece on the latest hot finance tool. 

To help you hit the ground running, we have done some legwork for you. Here is our unsponsored, opinionated, self-tested startup financial stack.

For Managing Your Cap Table: Carta

Carta is hands down the best cap table management tool out there. Incumbent software platforms like Capshare are sloppy and challenging to use. The best part is that Carta is absolutely free to start. Just upload your documents, issue certificates, and boom, you have a cap table!

Cost: Free until you need a 409a

For Managing Your Accounting: Quickbooks 

Quickbooks is the industry standard for accountants. Full stop. If you haven’t run your own books before, we strongly recommend sticking with the industry leader. Not only is Quickbooks online great to work with, it offers deep integrations with every other tool you could imagine. 

Cost: $25 a month

For Running Payroll and Benefits: Justworks

Many PEOs require at least 5 employees to be eligible for insurance. If you need insurance day one, there is no better option than Justworks. 

Cost: $49 a month per employee

For Handling Bookkeeping: Pilot

Pilot offers a handful of fractional CFO services. The first thing you will need is help with bookkeeping. At $599, Pilots bookkeeping service is a steal and gives you peace of mind. Our favorite part about Pilot is its direct integration with Quickbooks, giving you the ability to scale up to more sophisticated financial needs when you are ready.

Cost: $599 for bookkeeping a month

For Keeping a Checking Account: Mercury

SVB gets a lot of airtime and does a good job marketing to the startup industry. But honestly, Mercury wins out. Easy virtual card issuing, simple account setup, no wire fees, and no monthly fees make Mercury a no-brainer.

Cost: Free!

For Managing Team Expenses: Divvy

Divvy sits at this weird crossroads of accounting, expense management, and corporate credit. Luckily, with easy integrations to Quickbooks, Divvy offers its core feature set for free. Expense management is incredibly simple to setup, and, when you are ready, Divvy offers credit lines and other premium features.

Cost: Free! 

For Modeling Runway and Burn: Microsoft Excel

Your finance stack would be incomplete without the beloved Excel. While we strongly recommend using Google Workspaces as your email and cloud directory provider, you still should get your team access to Microsoft Excel. 

Cost: $12.50 a month per employee 

With this stack, you will be spending around $1,200 per month for a 10-person startup. Of course, this will scale as you grow. You should anticipate spending several thousand dollars on CFO services from Pilot and your 409a valuations by Carta. 

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