Why I decided to start giving away a 200$-CRM tool for free

Today I am enormously happy to release startup_TOOLS as an open source project for the worldwide entrepreneur community.

That is an important step in empowering entrepreneurs and business globally to lower upfront business cost.

What is startup_TOOLS?

Having founded and worked in startups for a few years now, I have seen what makes a young company tick in its first days and months. Scaling in product, sales and operations can be a hard thing, especially if you don’t know about proper tools and software. Plus, most software doesn’t really give you a benefit for the money you spend and relies on you having to figure out how to use it.

To solve this, I decided to start putting together grass-roots tools in Google Sheets that get you started quickly, give you a lot of functionality and are suitable for every use case.

Why free?

At Factory Berlin (where I am currently PM), we have a culture of giving first. We grow and connect our community through sharing and empowerment. Giving first to the global entrepreneurship community has shown to yield better results than traditional zero-sum thinking and walling off.

Also, more than by the current state of the world, I am enticed by the potential of things to come. Giving quality tools to creative people can lead them to succeed in ways I could never plan out and that is something I want to see!

I started selling startup_CRM for 200$ in January and while I worked with awesome companies to implement it, I realized that there is much more potential in shifting the business model and target group a bit. Instead of selling a finished product for a fixed rate, startup_TOOLS will be open and accessible in the most recent versions anytime and if needed, I will help entrepreneurs implementing them with the requirements of their company as Pro Support.

Technology under the hood

Every startup_TOOL will be built on a custom Google Sheets framework. This includes support of translations for 100 languages from the start and configurable translation packages. With Google Sheet’s character support, this makes it globally accessible without relying on the english language as an entrance barrier.

Also, all TOOLS come with extended validation support to improve data integrity and are highly configurable to suit a lot of use cases. Needless to say, Google Sheets are accessible for free with scalable real-time collaboration and after copying the release file, you own all included data without restrictions.

Lastly, the TOOLS are made to be adaptable, so all the formulas are built for resilience to change without breaking.


The first startup_TOOL will be startup_CRM. Traditional online CRMs give you a simple database to store contacts. Unfortunately, most of the time the editing of the data is very time-consuming and people start neglecting it. startup_CRM solves this with a simple, configurable data sheet of contacts that you can edit as fast as any other spreadsheets. To extend beyond a simple spreadsheet, it gives you briefings per person (including latest contact points), a list of follow-ups you have to do and a Kanban view of leads in different sales stages.

startup_CRM builds on the same underlying startup_TOOL framework, so it’s highly configurable from the start to suit every industry and product on sale.

startup_NAPKIN [coming in August]

The next TOOL scheduled for release is NAPKIN, a product calculation tool to make it easier to sketch out and calculate a product idea. For the release version 1.0, I plan to include multiple-product-support (for complex business plans), sales projections and cost category planning. SUBSCRIBE to hear first about it.

Public Product Development Documentation [coming in June]

In the spirit of transparency, I am also publishing development and feedback channels for each TOOL. Working in Product Management for some time now, I hope this opens up the conversation about future roadmaps of the products, but also about PM techniques. Exchange is always welcome.

Make sure to get updates on this here.

If this is relevant to you or your audience, feel free to clap, share and subscribe. 👋🏻

Thanks for reading.
I am Max Reibert.
PM + Photographer @FactoryBerlin.
Student of Human Factors @TUBerlin.

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