Satchel (YC S18) – Guides to the Best SaaS Tools

Hey HN! I'm Andrew, one of the makers of Satchel. (https://satchel.com). We write SaaS buying guides. We vigorously test products in different SaaS categories, write reports about our findings, and then try to identify the best product for a typical early-stage startup. Along the way, we uncover and share info that should be obvious (but isn't), and point out any caveats and pitfalls you might encounter.

We're like The Wirecutter / Consumer Reports for SaaS, minus the affiliate links / paywall (more on this later).

There's a real information problem in B2B software. Without prior experience, it's hard to know how to evaluate a product, figure out what differentiates it, learn all relevant background, and compare against alternatives. Many times, it's difficult even to decipher what exactly a product does. As a buyer, you're often in the position of having to make a high-quality decision on something you're far from being an expert on. If you're anything like me, you often don't even know what you don't know.

There are plenty of crowd-sourced review sites out there, but they usually all end up filled with 5-star reviews that boil down to "I used X [and only X] and it was good." There is also an abundance of startup tool lists and directories, yet the problem is less about seeing what tools are out there and more about figuring out which one to use.

We're taking a different path, one that others have tended to avoid. We do hands-on testing and write in-depth long-form for each category of tools (with plenty of summaries to make it useful even when skimming), which can't be replaced with code (even though we, as engineers, sincerely wish that weren't the case). We're not reliant on vendors, so we can say what we actually think about a product, both upsides and downsides, instead of being pressured to normalize everything we say around "pretty good."

I see us as fundamentally helping you do something akin to time/information arbitrage. If lots of startups are each spending, say, ten hours doing the exact same research and testing, why doesn't someone spend 100 hours doing that research and then freely distribute the results? Everyone would save time yet get higher quality information.

Right now, we have three longform guides geared towards startups just starting out: store of money (https://satchel.com/store-of-money), incorporation service (https://satchel.com/incorporation), and web analytics (https://satchel.com/web-analytics). We have preliminary results (but not full writeups) for a lot more categories at https://satchel.com/handbook.

We don't expect to support ourselves financially in the same way as The Wirecutter (affiliate program) or Consumer Reports (paywall). Affiliate programs are mostly conflict-of-interest-free when rates are standardized across products (e.g. via Amazon for consumer goods), but are a lot harder to execute properly in a fragmented market like B2B software's. I'm also personally opposed to paywalling our work (I spent a lot of my formative years as a bio researcher, and I'd sincerely claim that open-access was a saving grace). Instead, we think there are ways we can increase the efficiency of the SaaS procurement/purchasing process, and intend to monetize there based on value-add.

We would love to hear your feedback and your experiences with B2B software. I'm personally excited to be sharing this with HN, and I'll be here to answer any and all questions you want to throw my way!



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andrey azimov by Andrey Azimov