Augmented reality (AR) startup Augment builds and maintains a lot of software. The company's portfolio includes desktop, mobile, and web applications across use cases in architecture and design to e-commerce and retail. Yet, when I asked CEO Jean-Francois Chianetta to name the five tools his startup can't live without, he didn't mention any kind of developer platform or analytics tool. Just like any other business, an AR startup needs great communication, marketing, and productivity tools to run an effective operation.
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The business apps that keep this AR startup humming are the collaboration, project management (PM), and sales tools that allow the startup to maintain a transparent work environment and get tasks done—even when employees are working in different offices around the world.
1. Atlassian HipChat
Atlassian HipChat is one of PCMag's Editors' Choices for online collaboration tools. The platform recently revamped its group video conferencing and offers a ton of integrations on top of its intuitive chat interface. Chianetta said HipChat is the reason his startup can operate as efficiently as needed in spite of its distributed workforce.
"We have three offices and employees who work from home so HipChat keeps us connected," said Chianetta. "The app removes the distance between each of us by essentially putting us all in the same virtual office."
On the PM front, Chianetta is a big fan of Trello. The simple but effective PM app provides a visual-oriented experience with Kanban-style management, helping the startup's teams with free-form collaboration while keeping projects on track.
"We use Trello a lot," said Chianetta. "Each time we have a complicated project to figure out, Trello helps us organize and plan it out."
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Aha! is also PM software in a fashion but with an express focus on building product road maps. Augment has a number of products in its pipeline at different stages of concept, design, development, and release. Chianetta explained that Aha! allows the startup to consolidate all of those ideas, product strategies, and feature development progress updates into one unified view.
"Aha! helps us construct our vision of a product and then split that into features and tasks," said Chianetta. "It's where we bring our vision up and make sure it's fully formed before transitioning over to sales and marketing."
When ultimately marketing and selling its products, Augment goes for this tried-and-tested customer relationship management (CRM) platform for engaging leads and contacts. Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional bolsters the Editors' Choice CRM tool with a redesigned user interface (UI) and more business intelligence (BI) and sales analytics for teams. Chianetta said Augment leverages the Salesforce ecosystem not just for CRM but for marketing automation and help desk capabilities as well.
"Salesforce is the backbone of our communication and sales," said Chianetta. "We have integrated a lot of Salesforce tools from [B2B marketing automation product] Pardot, but also Desk.com for reports and invoices and handling part of our integrated customer service strategy."
The other half of that customer support strategy is Intercom, an online help desk platform integrated with Salesforce that offers live chat, live customer data monitoring, and both email and in-app push messaging for Android, iOS, and web apps such as the ones in Augment's portfolio. Chianetta said Intercom simply makes customer service easy.
"It's about real-time communication with customers," said Chianetta. "We use Intercom because it's simple for the user and easily accessible for us when we need to answer a question."