the definitive Back Office Startup Stack

During 3+ years building AbstractOps, we've helped design, build, and scale HR, Finance, and Legal Ops – processes and software – for 100+ companies (including some pretty badass businesses like On Deck, Primer, Maven, Airplane, and more).

We've always held:

You should spend all your time innovating on your Product, GTM, or core Business Operations. These things are your secret sauce.

You should not be innovating on your Finance tools, HR software, or Legal templates. They are critical to scaling, but they're also all solved problems.

But we found that almost every company reinvents the wheel. This is because there are lots of "perks pages" that recommend every possible tool, and lots of blogs, but no "guides."

So we put one together...

No BS. Executives need Executive Summaries.

We aren't doing 1,000 word blog posts on every category, because, in the immortal words of Kimberly "Sweet Brown" Wilkins: Ain't Nobody got Time for That. Instead, we tell you what the best solution is in a given space, with a short paragraph on why. We may occasionally have an "honorable mention" or "rising star" in some categories.

We'll display pretty strong opinions, including the occasional Anti-Recommendation. We will also publish summaries for inflection points or milestones:

  • Incorporation
  • Going from pre- to post-PMF (around Series ~A)
  • Going from startup to scale-up, as you mature (around Series ~C)

What you Need. When. Why.

Most features don't matter, so websites like G2 or Capterra often aren't helpful.

On the other hand, we've spent thousands of hours researching these tools according to criteria that matter. We distilled this down into 5: critical features; customer service; value for money; APIs & integration; scalability.

Incidentally, with some tweaks, the same criteria also works for service providers rather than software!

We break it down into three stages of Company and will flag which stages each solution is suitable for:

  • Angel: from Founding through ~Seed stage
  • Venture: from Series A through Series ~B/C
  • Growth: from Series C+ through pre-IPO

Not Every Part of your Stack should be Software.

Sometimes, the best software is no software. It's possible that a service provider, or a template, or a scrappy band-aid solution is best depending on your stage and needs. We'll tell you if that's the case.

Recommendations You Can Trust

We make some affiliate revenue, but you should trust what we say anyway:

  • Almost all startup vendors have affiliate programs; it doesn't really cause bias.
  • We put our money where our mouth is: we almost always use our recommendation (the only exception is if the recommendation is a new tool and we're stuck on a legacy provider).
  • We care intensely about startups succeeding by making the right choices. We explain the rationale so you can see why it's the right (informed) decision.
  • Most important, reputation is everything. We will always disclose affiliate arrangements on each blog post.
  • If we get a bunch of fees from you signing up for our recommendations, we'll share some of it right back with you as thanks. Don't you think Wirecutter or should do this too ;)?

A Bit of Humor and the Occasional Bad Pun

Because, why not.

Level 1 BOSS: Angel Stage (Founding -> Seed)

get it? it's like the first boss in a video game...

hmm? explaining the joke makes it less funny? well sure, but c'mon. do you want the guide or not?


The founders' checklist when starting a company.

The Essentials

Finance Ops

HR Ops

Legal Ops


  • Recruiting (coming soon)
  • Equity Ops (coming soon)
  • Revenue Ops (coming soon)

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Level 2 BOSS: Venture Stage (Series A / B / C)

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