My lean startup toolkit

The online tools I use to get ideas quickly & cheaply out into the world

It feels like we’re in a new period of easy-to-use online tools to test, launch and build our projects. We don’t need developers or designers and the biggest challenge is finding the time to figure out which tools work best for our idea.

In workshops at Escape and Virgin, and with my own startups I’ve seen the need for these tools increase. I’ve spent too much time and money with Tribewanted and other projects trying to build bespoke online platforms when, so often for our audience, less is more. The lean startup movement has cemented this mindset.

Whatever you need the answer is always: Its been done, a tool has been created for this purpose and it won’t be expensive. Of course, time is pretty valuable — so hopefully some of these will help save you some of that, as well as the cash too.

One thing is for sure, there is no excuse for not pushing your idea cheaply, quickly and smartly out into the world to get feedback before you throw real time and money at it.

Website Building (don’t hire a developer)

For personal branding, user-testing, product launches or full-blown businesses.

Strikingly: Slick landing pages your Granny could build. My default web-builder.

Launchrock: Smart email-gathering product launch pages

Squarespace: The sexiest non-coding web-builder.

Divi: Putting the rest of the Wordpress themes to shame.

Webflow: Big focus on control on the move

Design (don’t hire a designer)

Fiverr: Logos for a fiver. Designed by humans. Yes, really.

Canva: Everyone’s a designer

Phonto: Add text to photos on your phone

Squarespace Logo: Make a logo in 30 seconds for free that doesn’t look terrible.

Tailor: Maybe the best new logo and brand generator yet

Pablo by Buffer: Engaging social images in 30 seconds

Withoopmh: Slick logo’s fast

Free stock-photos: Mega list of the best

Feedback & Validation (don’t pay for research)

Rapid feedback on ideas, prototypes and products can lead to quality market validation and future campaigns.

Twitter: Open a twitter account with the name of your idea. Follow 100+ people/orgs in the industry that your idea is in. Check back 24 hours. If 20% or more followed you back, you have something.

User Testing: Get videos of real people speaking their thoughts as they use your website or mobile app

Typeform: Elegant and fun new way to get people to give you online feedback. I use this a lot!

Google Forms: Simple, quick and all integrated with your google world.

Survey Monkey: Old school, but still great for online surveys.

Optimizely: A/B test your landing page. See also Parse.

Payments (don’t hire a developer)

Taking payments is a big one for most startups and this is where I’ve seen the biggest jumps forward over the last couple of years.

Stripe: Finally a decent alternative to paypal with actual customer service.

Square: Replaces the till / register / chip & pin.

gocardless: Recurring payments by Direct Debit (EU only)

Moonclerk: More recurring payments integrated with Stripe

Plasso: Payments made easy.

Social Marketing (don’t hire an agency)

Email: Sometimes its best to cut out the fluff and just email. Make it personal!

Mailchimp: Claims to be better than email. Often is.

Facebook: Still the biggest referrer of traffic for most startups.

Tweetdeck: Manage your social media marketing easily

Hootsuite: If you don’t like tweetdeck — great for scheduling.

Instagram: Fashion, food & travel startups — this is your home.

Periscope: Create your own tv channel

YouTube: The second biggest search engine in the world.

Outsourcing (hire cheaply)

Upwork: Find freelancers to tackle any job, any size, any time

Growth Geeks: find a geek to help grow your startup

People Per Hour: Everything your web project needs

Task Rabbit: Practical help offline


Medium: Here we are!

Maptia: The future of travel writing

Ghost: Like Medium.

Tumblr: Biggest blogging platform in the world today


Meetup: Lots and lots of events businesses only live on here.

Eventbrite: Tickets for everything.

Picatic: Event ticketing with crowdfunding tool and you pay what you want!


Mapbox: Build your own map

Pinterest: We did a cool map of the world’s treehouses using pinterest.

Book Keeping

Xero: Small business accounting in the cloud

Kashflow: Does the books so you don’t have to!


Share Tribe: Create a marketplace for your tribe

Shopify: Sell anything, anywhere

Crazy Egg: clicks visualized

Analytics and Metrics

Google: The original analytics app but not that user friendly.

Crazy Egg: Prefer pictures to numbers? Heat map visuals of where people click on your website.

Go Squared: Easy to use web analytics.

Mix Panel: Actions speak louder than page views.

Kiss Metrics: Gives you the insights you need to optimize your marketing.

Webmention: for keeping tabs on who is talking about you


Crowdcube: Equity crowdfunding in the UK

Crowfunder: Crowdfunding for community projects

Kickstarter: Creative crowdfunding for rewards

Startup Education & Communities

Escape: 15 week programme with 50 ambitious professionals

Virgin Startup: Advice + Loans + Mentors

Tribewanted: Bali & Italy

Refuga: Startup retreats in Europe

Control your inbox for controlling your inbox

Slack: An alternative for email for teams

Want to bring two or more of these tools together? Zapier is wild.

You want more? This is a brilliant library of no code tools from Sam Dickie >

This is also brilliant from Rik Lomas: How to run a startup without ruining your life.

Thanks to Jonny from Maptia and Dom from Escape for shaping this toolkit with me.