Software tools I use often

One question I get asked often, is what are the best productivity tools out there to make our lives as entrepreneurs, and investors better ?

Here’s a list I’ve compiled from my personal usage over the years.

I’m happy to add suggestions here to the list, so please list them in the comments. Happy to make this a reference document over time. Current revision: 1.1

Hardware

  • I love using my Mac laptops. They just work, and upgrading from an old one to a new one, is a matter of linking them together with a cable, or using SuperDuper for a full backup. My preference goes to a MacBook Pro after years with a MacBook Air. I just don’t have time to think about hardware specs, maintenance, etc. although I regularly use CleanMyMac, BitDefender AV, and DriveGenius to keep me up and running.
  • On the road (planes, buses), I use an iPad Pro to keep working / reading. Using Duet, I even use it as a second screen for a very easy 2-screen setup. I’m not a keen user of the Apple Pencil though.
  • At home, I use a desktop (iMac 5K with 2 old Dell 1K screens attached) to work more comfortably. My data (pix, etc.) sit on an external RAID-5 enclosure. My TimeMachine setup is also a RAID-5 enclosure (it helps with hardware failure mitigation and with speed !). I use SoftRAID to manage the disks.
  • I use dropbox (2 accounts: 1 pro with my team, 1 private), to store almost all of my data. It’s easy, syncs across all my devices (laptop, phone, tablet, desktop), so wherever I am, I have access to all my data. It requires configuring each app I use a bit to let them point to a Dropbox subfolder. Added benefits : I have access to my data with a web browser, and there’s even a history of revision of documents in case I delete or modify a document.
  • Finally, I use an iPhone 8 Plus phone. I enjoy the larger screen (helps with my eyesight) and I can’t imagine having to reinstall all the apps and learn how to use them again, if I had to move to Android. No need for an iPhone X for me. My whole ecosystem is Apple-based and it just works. Good enough for me.
  • I love my wireless Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones for taking calls, and listening to music and videos. I use a directional mic for conference calls at home from Blue.

Software

  • I use Evernote for all kinds of note taking (calls minutes, meeting minutes), and it syncs nicely across all my devices.
  • MailButler is a great add-on to mail.app. It adds among other things, email templates, delayed sending of emails, nicer signatures, email tracking, etc.
  • At Expon Capital, we live on Slack for near real-time communication. And we have set up a channel with each of our portfolio companies.
  • I love DocScanner on my phone, to scan documents, send them as PDF, to keep track of expenses (Evernote does this too).
  • All my passwords are randomly generated and managed with 1password. The last versions use TouchID fingerprint recognition to unlock easily.
  • Uscanner (used to be YouCam Snap) is a great way to take pictures of slides at presentations (automatic cropping).
  • I love Pocket to bookmark articles I don’t have time to read on the moment. I usually download them on my tablet and read them while on the train.
  • HotSpot Shield is the VPN I use all the time to protect my Wifi Access while on the road, and to connect to other countries…
  • I back up my Texts and WhatsApp messages on my phone with PhoneView for easy retrieval and search. A lot of conversations are happening there these days.
  • For audio and video calls, Skype and Facetime still work but not great. I’ve been experimenting with Zoom.us, Uberconference, BlueJeans, Join.me, and none is satisfying me. Tribe.pm just works but doesn’t allow yet for screensharing (one of my angel investments).
  • For sharing documents and tracking their impact, Attach.io (one of my angel investments) is a great alternative to DocSend.

Miscellaneous

  • I fly coach the vast majority of the time, as it does get expensive to travel for me. However, at airports, a lounge access card is great, as it allows me to work, rest, relax and not waste time (+ electric plug + wifi + coffee). The PriorityPass card is highly recommended.
  • CityMapper is a very good tool in many cities to get to your meetings on time.