I was where you are. I built multiple businesses, most failed, finally one hit and I sold it. If you want to go through that process, I will give you the best bang-for-the-buck advice to do that.
Get honest & expert feedback about your app. I'm an expert with software development, code reviews, product integrations, and business advice for your new app idea. I have built, launched, managed, and grown a lot of successful apps; and I will help you do it too.
With my consulting company, we've closed millions in work as soon as we started following a rigid sales "process". Cost, and all that jazz matters a little bit, but how you present your work, how you talk about it, and how you walk the customer through your sales process is *huge*. Think about this: how would you tell me how to make a peanut butter sandwich? It's harder than you think. Seems simple, but if you can demonstrate how to do that clearly, you'll start closing sales. If you want, setup a call with me and I can walk you through it.
My consulting company, while building software for all types of industries, we 100% use Stripe at first. It's part of our process, so we know why and how to integrate it well.
It sounds like you are building your platform, which means you don't have any customers currently, which also means you don't have to worry about processing fees. The main thing you want to do, is make sure you use a Service Object to wrap Stripe code with, so you can change this down the road (much much farther down the road when you're doing 100's of 1000's in transactions per month) so you can move to a different provider for a cheaper transaction rate. Like I said, thats overkill to even worry about right now. Just use Stripe.
I tell everyone my ideas, even as we build them. A perfect example is the question on this site itself: https://clarity.fm/questions/2876/i-am-starting-two-new-companies-but-one-requires-80-of-my-time-how-do-i-hold ...
Someone has started, or "built" and idea, and didn't see it through. Worst-case scenario: you tell someone, they build it, they f*ck up the end-game.
The people that come up with the idea have the passion to see-it-thru during hard-times. People that "steal" your idea, will give up when things get difficult 'cause they don't believe it, they just saw "dollar-signs" and thought it would be easy-money. No such thing as easy-money.
My immediate answer to anything related to inventory and physical-goods is: shopify.com. The API is clean and there are a lot integrations for them. Can answer better if there is a more specific information around what system the inventory is currently in?
My suggestion for you: focus.
If you dont have the resources or money to hire someone, why are you starting a second company? The second one will suffer the same fate as the first. I would suggest focus all efforts on the finished platform since thats the easiest to bring customers onto. If the finished platform is "boring", then just shut it down and focus on the new platform.
Charge-up your sales efforts. If you're bootstrapping, why stop now?
No, you use Shopify.com and then build integrations for it. You can then sell those integrations and create more revenue streams.
When building software for our customers, we always use Heroku (http://heroku.com). We refuse to use EC2 etc in the beginning, since the name-of-the-game is to focus all time and money on the actual software. I really hate the hosting question since this doesn't matter in the beginning. For most start-ups today: heroku-free option is just fine.
This is taken care of when using Heroku, 'cause all you need to do push your code to the repo and it's deployed. Time-saved.
Today, use Slack (http://slackhq.com). It has a ton of integrations.
Airbrake or something hosted.
Smartest CTO's use whatever get the job done that uses the least-friction for the team.
Your milage may vary, but from our experience, in short (please verify with a Tax-accountant, I have one I can refer you to): if you're paying people to do work for you that do not have a U.S. Tax ID #, it's a complete write-off and you do not require a W9 from them.
I would hurl myself toward getting the following working first:
* User signup (default to user)
* Profile setup (photo, etc).
* Add Stripe information
* Make it easy to share the link to my profile
* Enable Expert-mode, to answer phone calls
* Enable Twilio for calls
* Set Hourly-rate for calls
* Build/program API to handle conference calls etc
* Connect to LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter for 'verification'
Other than that, Clarity is very well built as it is. I'm sure you're trying to build this for a specific business.
Great advice! Definitely a great call. Was honest about my app idea and where I should be investing my focus next.