The best time to get software discounts is when you first start your business—and to get those discounts, you need to sign up with the best deal. $1,000 off AWS or 30% off HubSpot might sound great, until you realize you could get $100,000 in AWS credit or 90% off your first year of HubSpot with the right deal. Worse, if you sign up with the offer you thought was great, you’re stuck with it—most deals are only available for new users.
So which deal should you use for each app?
We’ve done the research for you. After organizing over 200 software deals from 15 startup-focused discount programs, we’ve found which startup deals you should use when you sign up for some of today’s most popular software.
It’s a great time to start a company, at least if you’re after free software. Many apps and services offer a startup plan, or at least a free plan to get started. Some go far beyond that, with accelerator-focused plans that give generous free credit or deep discounts for popular software. And for companies without backing, new business credit cards and deal memberships offer similar discounts for a wider range of companies.
That’s along with startup-focused plans from other apps and services—and special deals your accelerator, local co-working spaces, and other business-focused groups may offer.
The best deals typically are those focused on accelerator and VC-backed startups. They rely on investors to vet startups, so the resources and discounts they offer have the best chance of turning into a high-paying customer over time. If your company is in such a program, they’re the best place to start your discount research.
But they’re not the only option. Many of the best deals we found were from deal memberships and business credit cards—the former open to most new businesses, as long as you haven’t signed up for the software with discounts yet. If you do decide to buy a deal membership, you may want to go for one that offers perhaps not the best deal for one single product as much as the best deals overall—though some deals are big enough, they can justify a membership on their own.
Here are the best options for 25 popular products:
The best deal for AWS is AWS Activate, Amazon’s startup program, which offers either $15,000 credit over 2 years or up to $100,000 credit for the first year, depending on your company and your accelerator or VC firm.
If that’s not an option, you can get $5,000 credit valid for two years from Product Hunt Founder Club or Stripe Atlas—or the same $5,000 credit for only the first year from WeWork, Brex, Stripe Corporate Card, and Startups.com. That’s the base credit you should expect, though some deals offer as little as $1,000 in credit.
After that, you can get 5% off your AWS bill forever with Amazon Business Prime, for $179 a year. Sign up for Business Prime, then apply for the Amazon Business Prime American Express card, and use it to pay your AWS bill for 5% off.
The best Google Cloud deal is with Google Cloud for Startups, which offers $1,000 in credit to most startups less than five years old in eligible regions, and up to $100,000 if your company is referred by an incubator or VC firm. You may also get up to 10 users free for the first year on G Suite, depending on your offer.
The next best option is with Stripe Atlas. If you use their services to register your company, you’ll get $20,000 in credit—and are still eligible to get up to $100,000 if approved.
Comically, Google Cloud for Startups also offers the best discount for Stripe Atlas itself: $150 off registration. The optimal discount route then is to apply for Google Cloud for Startups, and use their discount to save on Stripe Atlas when registering your company. Then, see how much credit Google offers before deciding which offer to use for your cloud services.
The best way to save on Stripe is to sign up for Stripe Corporate Card. After you’ve spent $5,000 on the card, you will be eligible for $50,000 in payments on Stripe without fees (or over $1,400 total value).
Otherwise, the next best offer is $20,000 in payments without fees with FoundersCard, Segment, or HubSpot. All other offers only include $10,000 in no-fee payments.
If your startup is less than 2 years old with no more than $5 million in funding, you can use Segment for free for two years with Segment’s startup program. That also includes some of the best deals for other software (see full list of Segment startup discounts), so it’s a program worth trying to get into.
Otherwise, you can get up to $50,000 in Segment credit towards Segment’s Team plan with Product Hunt Founder Club, which depending on your usage may be worth more.
Product Hunt Founder Club and Brex give the same MongoDB Atlas discount: $5,000 in free credit. Product Hunt additionally mentions that this deal is only available for private startups.
The best Brex deal comes from Product Hunt Founder Club. Brex is free by default—though charges $5 per month per card if you have over five cards on your account. Product Hunt Founder Club gives you $1,000 credit on your Brex card (which more than covers your Founder Club year’s subscription), and waives your per-card fees for life. That’s far more than every other Brex deal offers.
FullStory offers their own startup plan, though it still costs $2,028 per year. If you're accepted into Segment's startup program, though, you can get FullStory fully free for 12 months, with 5,000 sessions, 3 month data retention, 20 seats, and Segment integration. It's a great way to learn from your users as you build your startup.
The best HubSpot deal is HubSpot for Startups, which gives 90% off HubSpot your first year, 50% off the second year, and 25% off the third year. That’s only for businesses backed by an approved accelerator or VC firm with under $2 million in funding, though. If you’ve raised over $2 million, they offer 50% off the first year, 25% after.
The next best deal comes from Stripe’s Corporate card, which offers 40% off your first year of HubSpot. Otherwise, you can get 30% off your first year by applying for HubSpot’s entrepreneur program, or with FoundersCard and Brex.
Each of the Airtable deals, from Stripe Corporate Card, Product Hunt Founder Club, and Secret, are equally good. Stripe gives $2,000 in credit for up to 5 users over 20 months; Product Hunt and Secret give $2,000 credit, no strings attached. If you have the card or get accepted into Secret, go for their deals; otherwise it’s worth paying for Product Hunt for that deal alone.
The best deal for InVision is for WeWork members, with a year free starter plan. Otherwise, you can get 6 months free from Secret, or 3 months free from Stripe Corporate Card or Startup.deals.
The best Intercom deal comes from their Early Stage program, which offers their entire suite for $49 a month for your first year, as long as your startup has less than 5 team members and $1 million in funding, and is under two years old. Or, if you’re in Segment’s startup plan, you can get the same Intercom deal, too.
Otherwise, the best Intercom deal comes with Stripe Corporate Card, which gives you 3 months for free. Brex offers $100 off for three months, which could work out to the same value for smaller teams.
Carta’s equity management deals all offer 20% off while getting started. Brex gives 20% off your first year subscription. Startups.com gives 20% off Cap Table management. Stripe Corporate Card gives 20% off launch. The best deal depends on what your startup needs.
The Customer.io deal from Segment’s Startup Program is the only one available—but it’s a good deal for your first year. You can choose between getting a year free Basic plan (for sending emails to up to 12,000 people), or take 90% off their Premium plan (for up to 100,000 people).
Get a free Mailjet premium plan (for up to 30,000 emails a month) for a year with Product Hunt Founder Club or Startups.com—the latter being a better deal if you’re not already paying for Product Hunt.
If your startup is in a SendGrid partner accelerator or VC fund, you can send emails for free to up to 100,000 contacts for the first year. Otherwise, Startups.com offers up to $499.95 in credit for each month of your first year with SendGrid.
DigitalOcean offers a startup program, Hatch, with varying amounts of credit depending on your startup accelerator. That’s worth checking if your company is eligible.
Otherwise, you can get $500 off your first year of hosting with either WeWork (which offers $500 credit over your first year) or Stripe’s Corporate Card (which offers 5% off your hosting, up to a total of $500).
If your startup is eligible for Segment’s startup program, you can get 93% off Drift’s Pro plan for your first year.
Organize your team notes in Notion cheaper with Notion for Startups, which gives your team $1,000 in credit, as long as you're backed by an accepted accelerator or VC firm. You can get the same deal from Product Hunt Founder Club, as long as you're starting a new workspace. Or if you have a larger team, you might save more with the Notion deal from Stripe Corporate Card, which offers 50% cash back from your first year of using Notion, for up to $5,000 in total cash back.
Salesforce's basic Essentials plan is already one of its cheapest offerings at $25/month per user, but you can take 50% off that price for your first year with either Product Hunt Founder Club or FoundersCard.
A new credit card is all it takes to get the first three months of your payroll handled for free with Gusto, as both Stripe Corporate Card and Brex offer the same 3 month free deal.
Get 6 months free on 1Password’s Business plan with Product Hunt Founder Club, something that could pay for your deal subscription, depending on how many team members you have.
Both Stripe Corporate Card and Brex offer the same discount, which takes half off your Expensify bill for the first six months.
Front’s 20% off the first year deal comes from Product Hunt, Secret, and HubSpot for Startups. The latter two are the best option if you’re eligible for HubSpot or Secret's discounts already; otherwise go for Product Hunt’s offer.
Freshworks offers up to $10,000 total credit—or up to $1,250 credit per Freshworks program—for new companies signing up through their startup program. That includes discounts on Freshdesk, Freshworks CRM, Freshchat, and more.
It’s not much, but both FoundersCard and WeWork offer 10% off your first year of Office 365 Business. FoundersCard includes a limit of 300 users. Beyond that, you could buy yearly licenses on Amazon and get 5% off, using Amazon Prime Rewards, as mentioned with AWS.
If you’re using Segment already, PersistIQ’s best deal of 50% off comes from Segment’s startup program—though it’s only available if you integrate via Segment.
If you only need a basic store, Stripe Corporate Card gives the best deal with 3 months free on Shopify’s Basic plan. Or, with FoundersCard, you can get 20% off your first year with any Shopify plan, for far more savings on higher priced plans.
The best Zendesk deal comes from both Product Hunt Founder Club and Secret, with a full year free for up to 100 employees, as long as your company is a series B or under (or accepted into Secret).
The next best deals come via credit cards, with both Brex and Stripe Corporate Card offering up to $436 in credit each month for your first year. Otherwise, you can get a year of free Zendesk for 3 users with other deals.
The best deals are generally from software companies themselves—beyond that, your best bet is to sign up for Stripe Card (for 9 of the best deals) and/or pay for Product Hunt Startup Club for a year (which also had 9 of the best deals). It's worth applying to Secret as a backup, especially since its free, has lower requirements than many other free startup offerings, and includes deals that are equal to those from Product Hunt. And if you’re eligible, Segment’s startup deal not only includes the best deal for their services, it also gets you the best deal on three other products.
Which option is best for your company, though, depends on the products you need and your company’s eligibility. So before signing up for new products, search through the database below and see which deals are available for the products your team needs. Figure out if it’s worth subscribing to a deal, or if you should apply to a startup program. And check what others pay for that product from Capiche's pricing stories, both to find more discounts and to estimate what the products will cost your company past your startup deals.
Updated July 9, 2020 to remove now-defunct Atrium deals, and September 2, 2020 to update Front's startup deal from 75% off first year to now 20% off first year.
What's your favorite startup software deal? Share it on Twitter.
Header image from Product Hunt's Founder Club.
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