30+ basic tools for your startup
Ideal for first-time entrepreneurs who want to scale fast.
I had not realized how many tools we use for our daily work until i decided to compile this list. I thought it would be useful for current or aspiring entrepreneurs to highlight the tools we currently use and why we use them. I had actually started writing this post back in 2014, so i had to make some updates on it. Here they are:
46elks Trust is a critical aspect of every marketplace. Mobile phone verification is one way you can start building trust between your supply and demand. For example, having a verified phone number means that our incrediblue hosts and guests can contact each other easily over the phone once a booking is confirmed. We use 46elks to send and monitor phone verification codes. Another option is Digits by Twitter or Twilio.
Autopilot This is a marketing automation tool which i personally love as its very simple to use. We use it to create email campaigns based on user journeys so that we can onboard our users better. Simple example, if they open an email and click through to a blog link we have there then that user gets a different email from someone who didn’t even open it. It’s also great for following up automatically with sales leads.
Adroll Online marketing has advanced so much allowing us to pull all sorts of magic tricks. Retargeting or Remarketing is an inexpensive and super cool magic trick, especially if you are running a consumer-oriented business like ours. Once a user visits your site you can follow him around on most of the sites he visits during his daily routine, with a low cost, making sure you build brand awareness and retention. In the past we used to use Adroll while now you can easily build retargeting campaigns directly into Adwords and Facebook Ads.
Asana One of the most exciting aspects of a startup is its speed of growth. Growth means more people and more people working from in-house or remotely means you need a tool to manage your projects and tasks. Asana is what we use to achieve this and it helps our entire team deliver.
Braintree When you are starting up a new business/app you might need to have payments as well. If you want to easily setup a payment system in your app, then no questions asked you should use braintree. Its a subsidiary of paypal, so you have a cool integration with paypal too. They’ve got great support and the documentation is super clear for the development team. We used to work with Adyen.
Canva If you don’t have a designer, photoshop skills or simply the time to create good looking designs for your startup then you need Canva. Canva is an awesome startup that has standardized the most common things we design during a working day; from Facebook ads to twitter covers or even A4 designs, its all there with awesome templates that you can create in minutes.
Crowdin Today it is important to go global from the very beginning. Going global means localizing your product to several languages. We use Crowdin to manage our website localization. You can easily provide access to your translators and you can monitor their progress, so for example if you are simultaneously localizing your app in 10 languages (like we did…) you can see what % of the app has been translated per language and follow up with the ones that are falling behind. Another great app for localization is Transifex.
Cssigniter Many of us use Wordpress to base our blog or website on. If you don’t want to spend time designing your own site or blog, grab a super cool theme from cssigniter and you are good to go.
Desk We used to have hundreds of emails with flags, stars and other labels. Then we moved to Desk. We use it for all communication with our users, over email, phone, twitter and facebook. Every conversation becomes a case that you can view, manage and measure easily. Another option for more instant support is Intercom.
Dropbox When it comes to storing important documents which may need to be shared with multiple persons we use Dropbox. Nevertheless, for creation of content and collaboration we use Google Docs instead. Collaboration is critical and its just easier with Google Docs.
eFax I know what you are thinking. Why would you want to send out a fax in 2016? We used it to target traditional professionals like travel agents who still have a fax number (which nowadays is just connected with their printer) as it will literally just print out a brochure of ours in their office.
Facebook Ads A great tool to build audience for your product especially if you are looking to target people with specific interests, like sailing for example.
Fotolia We used it to buy royalty-free photos for use on our campaigns/social media (drop the image in a Canva project and create a great social media post). I am not a big fan of stock photos but till you build enough of your own content, Fotolia is a good way out. Getting a subscription means you can download the highest resolution available. Another option is istockphoto, gettyimages and the likes.
Foursquare Although it has faded away the last few years, posting in specific locations or creating lists here can maybe drive some traffic back to your site.
Github What our dev team uses to manage code.
Google Analytics What you are not measuring may be killing your business. Having access to GA is important if you want to understand what’s working and what’s not on your site. You can use it easily for basic monitoring but you can also become an expert in it and dig deep into your visitors’ behaviour. Other options are Kissmetrics and Mixpanel.
Google Adwords If people are searching for your product or service, whether b2b or b2c, you might want to consider investing in some ads. Google offers tons of free material so that you can learn how to use it and start with some small budgets.
Google Docs Our main tool for creating and collaborating on documents, sharing reports, presentations etc.
Google Calendar I know this sounds like a pretty basic tool, but many people still don’t use it at their benefit. Once you decide to add all your meetings in the app, you can very easily monitor them from your mobile and there’s a cool setting where you get a summary email of how your day looks like at 5am every morning.
Heroku Used by our developers to create and manage a web app that can scale fast.
Hipchat Used for our team communication. We used to work with Skype but Hipchat has something simple that really made a huge difference on our productivity; it allows you to mention (@namexyz) a specific user. So its pretty much like talking to someone. You don’t have to follow entire irrelevant conversations anymore, you only check hipchat when they mention you. Since I wrote this article we moved away from Hipchat to Slack and we have different channels for every department.
Intercom Used to send automatic notifications to our users and also to receive questions from users. Similar to customer.io. We moved to Autopilot since I wrote the article, although intercom has evoluted a lot in the last few months and I’d seriously consider trying it again now.
Invision If you focus on product, then invision is one of the best design collaboration tools out there. You can use it from collaborating on pages design to copywriting and even creating working prototypes of the site. When we have a new page or an entire new flow coming up, the designer creates a project, we comment on areas that need a change, the copywriter comments with what content they want put over each area and then the designer updates the project and its ready to go.
Mailchimp Used to send out massively segmented email campaigns/newsletters. You can have different lists of emails, like for example “clients” and “suppliers” and lists can have data on them, so that you can segment a list by picking a “clients” with “more than 10 orders”. They also have automation features now.
Outbrain If you have created cool content in your blog or app or if you have earned some media attention which talks about your product or service, you can use Outbrain’s Amplify tool to distribute that content on major websites and attract more clicks to it. It appears as a recommended/sponsored story at the end of other similar articles and drives some excellent traffic to it.
PeoplePerHour Similar to Upwork, at PPH you may find all kinds of of skilled people to help you scale your business at a low cost.
Pivotal Tracker We used to run our product sprints on Trello and had moved to Pivotal when i wrote the article. A great tool for developers. Since then we have found it useful to keep all the company sprints (product and business) in one tool, so we currently run everything on Asana.
Podio We used to use Podio to manage our business development projects, lead generation projects etc. You could actually customize it for all sorts of tasks. We don’t use this anymore but it was a powerful tool for us.
Positionly SEO is a critical part of our business and it is important to measure your status and also to be able to see how you can improve.
Pollfish That’s a great tool for market research. With Pollfish you can, in minutes, create surveys with questions, select demographics and then run your campaign. Mobile phone users get to answer to your survey and you get the data very fast. We use Pollfish to get market research data and then create content about it, like for example “Groups of people have more fun during their holidays than couples” and back it up with data but also to conduct customer development and identify opportunities.
Skype We now only use Skype for conference calls and screen sharing.
Sonetel We use Sonetel to buy local numbers in countries where we operate in order to make it cheap and easy for our customers to reach our call center.
Trello We used to use Trello both for our product management and marketing project management. Its an exceptional tool for small teams, simple and to the point. We have now transitioned to Asana.
Typeform My favourite tool since 2014. Typeform allows you to gather all sorts of data from your users in a very natural and simple way. I seriously love this tool. You can customize a form so much that it can be used for market research or even be part of your website as your contact form.
Trustpilot As mentioned earlier, building trust is essential especially for b2c businesses. Trustpilot helps your verified customers leave a review for your product or service and you can then integrate those reviews in your web design easily.
Transferwise If you have to pay suppliers in currencies different than yours, you can save money in fees by using TW.
Upwork As a marketplace startup we have found surprisingly useful to utilise the power of other marketplaces for our growth. Upwork allows you to hire people with any kind of skills for your tasks. When i was writing the article, Upwork used to be called oDesk!
Workable Hiring is probably one of the biggest challenges an entrepreneur faces. Finding the right talent is pretty hard. Workable makes it quite easier in the sense that you can very quickly create a job description (or get a ready-made one from their resources and edit it), then post your job and advertise it on job boards. You start getting candidates pretty fast and you can manage the recruiting process through the system. They even got interview question proposals ready which is pretty handy for first-timers.
Whats App/Viber We create team chats in whats app or viber as it is very easy to throw out a quick question to the entire group when you are in a hurry.
Yesware When you are selling or fundraising or generally sending out important emails to important people it’s great to know if they are opening them, forwarding them, etc so with this email tracking tool you can monitor that.
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