Best Startup Tools

Summary:

This list tries to summarize in one place the most useful tools for Startups and Entrepreneurs we have found. It has a particular emphasis on Agile and Lean Startup tools. Feel free to give us your comments and suggestions, by reaching out to us via our contact page.

Pre-Launch Website

These solution allow you to have a nice and useful website before you even launch your real app or business online.

1. Flavors.me

  • Much better than LaunchRock, and only $20 per year. Allows for reasonable customization options, and it's easy to use.
  • Social media and blog support integrated.
  • Email support and basic analytic support built-in.

2. Tumblr

  • A fairly powerful and free blog that you can use before you launch your website.
  • It is not as good as Flavors.me, but it could be used just for your blog.
  • It is still easier and cheaper than a Wordpress blog, or using Blogger.

3. SquareSpace

  • A premium blogging and web publishing engine
  • It could even run your website if you want something simple.
  • Many templates and the best plans are around $16 per month.

4. LaunchRock

  • Innovative platform to get people interest prior to launch.
  • BUT, there is NO ability to use custom images for the background.

Blogging and Websites Builders

1. Drupal

  • A powerful system where to build an ambitious website, it can power a blog, an e-commerce site, a large newspaper, or even a social media community.
  • Support for advanced content moderation, multiple blogs, multi language and much more.
  • Mobile support easily available, version 8 coming in late 2013 will support Tablets and Smartphones natively.
  • Open source and free
  • Our choice for our corporate website, recommended. It does require some effort to get going, but is well worth it.

2. Wordpress

  • Easy system to power a blog, or intermediate complexity website.
  • Open source and free
  • To power a more ambitious website, you must customize and host Wordpress itself. A simple blog running out of Wordpress.com is not the best solution, unless this is done before you launch your website.

3. SquareSpace (see our notes in the Pre-Launch Website category)

PR / Promotion / Marketing

1. PRWeb 

2. PRNewsWire

  • The oldest, most respected, and also most expensive. Prices start at around $300 but easily go over $1000.

Which to use?

3. ADVICE on how to Write your Press Release

4. Alexa.com 

  • A good solid indicator of global traffic.

Social CRM Marketing / Multi Account Social Tools

  1. Social Management and Tracking
    1. TweetDeck
      1. It is arguably the best free professional tool you can use.
      2. It works on Mac and PC
      3. It is free
      4. It can schedule tweets, and your PC does not need to be on to work
      5. It can handle multiple accounts
      6. It is supported officially by Twitter themselves.
      7. It can even automatically generate Bit.ly links.
      8. Just Get it.
    2. HootSuite
      1. Main features here.
        1. It can manage almost all available social networks
        2. It includes Analytics similar to Bit.ly for clicks but it adds much more
          1. Google Analytics view
          2. FB insights
          3. Twitter profile stats
          4. Google+ Page analytics
          5. Analytics on it's own features, and how people use it for posting, etc.
        3. Team features allow to delegate work and do fine grained control
        4. Internal chat or Hootsuite Conversations
        5. Message Scheduling
        6. Monitoring using geolocation, or almost anything
        7. iPhone, iPad apps.
        8. Pricing $9.99 a month for the Pro version, basic version free. Enterprise is very expensive.
    3. SproutSocial
      1. Supports Twitter, FB, LinkedIn
      2. Optimal send feature to send content at the best times
      3. Most of Hootsuite features, but not so many networks, and it seems to me less Analytics
      4. Many CRM like tools for managing sales and support
      5. Pricing:
        1. $39 per user at minimum.
        2. $59 for the deluxe user, and it supports Google Analytics, Hootsuite does this for just $9.99
  2. Social CRM for Sales and Support
    1. Nimble
      1. It's a platform to manage all your customers, contacts, prospects via social interaction
      2. $15 a month per user

Social Forum Software

  1. Discourse Forum
    1. Unfortunately is still on Beta as of May, 6.
  2. Drupal 7
    1. It has a powerful built-in forum module
    2. Drupal is open source and free.

ePub / eBook Readers for OSX

  1. A review of the top 3 in 2012, the best seems to be BookReader at $10
  2. Kitabu - a fully free option for OSX.

 

Event Related

  1. EventBrite
    1. After an extensive investigation done by Annita, we decided to go with this one. It is the best and it integrates easily with PayPal. It also provides Social Media sharing features. 
    2. Scribble Live.
      1. Pricing from $29, and free trial.
      2. Live Texting of an event, news coverage
    3. Sched.com a Social Event Engine
      1. URL here
      2. Used by Lean Kanban North America 2013, and many more.
      3. Pricing:
        1. $99 per event. It creates a subdomain like: http://leankanbannorthamerica2013.sched.org
    4. Lanyrd Discover and get to more Professional Events
      1. A social conference directory, the name comes from "lanyard" the cord you use to hang a conference badge around your neck.
      2. Integrates with Twitter. you get the opportunity to create an event with a unique URL, get a quick glance at who is attending, add a hashtag, location and timing information, and create lists of sessions. You can also add all kinds of content to it.
      3. It builds a bio for the speaker, and is social in nature, see this link.
      4. The problem I see is that is not your URL, it deviates from your brand. A competitor takes a different approach: but is very expensive at $799 a year, I don't see the point.
      5. Review source
      6. Another favorable review
      7. A nice writeup from their founders. The website came alive in 2010.
    5. Another good one but not fully free is ActiveRegOnline, it was used by LKNA'13.

eCommerce Payment Processing Tools

  1. Google Checkout
  2. PayPal
    1. They have been integrated with EventBrite, and are for now our chosen solution.
  3. Amazon Payment
  4. Comparisons:
    1. http://www.digitalfamily.com/tutorials/google-checkout-vs-paypal-vs-amazon/
    2. http://www.webmasterworld.com/ecommerce/4334016.htm
  5. Smaller Solution Provider are:
    1. CCNow, especialized in services.
    2. Spreedly.com used by MyBalsamiq.com and quite international.
    3. A list of many including 2Checkout and MoneyBookers is here.

Lean Startup or Business Model Canvas Tools

  1. Business Model Canvas App for iPad
    1. URL
    2. The app made by the team who created the BMC itself.
    3. App Store price: $29.99
  2. Lean Canvas
    1. An alternative to Strategizer, and already stable.
    2. It does support the Business Model Canvas also. In our opinion a Lean Canvas is just a special version of the BMC, you still need one even if you use the Lean Canvas.
    3. Free for one person and one collaborator. More people or projects require payment. From $12 a month.
  3. Strategyzer
    1. A new online tool to create a Business Model Canvas and collaborate with your team
    2. Nice feature set, including some finance tools
    3. From $29.99 per project, or $14.99 per project if paid annually.
    4. It is still on ALPHA in May 2013.

Marketing CRM Customer Tracking w/ Social Features

  1. Nimble
    1. Social CRM
    2. From $15 mo/user
    3. Sales and opportunity management
  2. SproutSocial
    1. $35 per user per month. Not a full CRM. More a tool to promote your business.
  3. Insightly
    1. Social CRM but seems less featured than Nimble.
    2. Free plan actually works, up to 3 people, 2500 contacts
  4. ZohoCRM
    1. Some social support, and free up to 3 users
    2. Lots of features including iPhone / iPad apps
    3. India based.
  5. TactileCRM
    1. Reminds me of HighRise, but much cheaper, and UK based.
    2. From 6 pounds, or 8.50 dollars.
    3. Solid features but not social.
  6. BatchBook
    1. $20 unlimited users, 2000 contacts, 5 GB space
    2. Solid features, web based but not social.
  7. HighRise
    1. From $24 for 6 users, 10 deals, 5GB storage
  8. Woosabi
    1. 9.9 Pounds, so near $15 a month. 
    2. Invoicing, Contact Management, Todos.
    3. Features

Project Collaboration Tools

  1. Basecamp
    1. From $20 mo.
    2. New Features galore, and argaubly the leader in the field. Used by thousands of agencies and development firms.

Marketing Surveys / Polls

  1. GoPollGo
  2. PollDaddy
    1. Market leader, free option for 10 questions per survey
    2. Pro plan $200 per year
  3. Floq
    1. Get customer opinions.
    2. Free plan for two surveys per month, 20 questions each.
    3. $19 for their main plan.

Mockups

  1. Balsamiq
    1. Desktop software $79
    2. MyBalsamiq is $12 month per 3 active projects, 50% desktop app. For 10 projects it goes up to $24. Always ulimited mockups and users.
    3. We have used it, and strongly recommend it. Great product, great team.
  2. InvisionApp.com
    1. Like a simulation, more for finished art than a mockup, but impressive.
  3. MockingBird
    1. From $9 for 2 projects, unlimited people.

Meeting Schedulers & Organizers (across timezones)

  1. Doddle.com Free Scheduling
  2. TimeTrade.com
  3. Scheduly.com Not free though
  4. Tungle.me
    1. Sadly RIM closed it, it was very good and simple.

Analytics

  1. About Analytics independently reviews and recommends the best tools.
  2. Google Analytics Free.
    1. Tutorial on Google Analytics, an hour presentation here
  3. KISSmetrics From $49 month.
  4. Pingdom monitors website uptime,and when it fails
  5. MixPanel it has a strong mobile focus, and free up to 25,000 data points?
  6. CrazyEgg heatmaps for eyes on a web page
  7. Urchin. Free and open source solution, uses a combination of server and JS data.
  8. PiWik. Fast, good arhitecture, server based and selected by Jason in Hostopia.
  9. GShift Labs. Social and web analytics. URL:

Ads

  1. Google AdWords
  2. LinkedIn Ads
  3. Facebook Ads

Videos and Animation

  1. Go Animate!
    1. A free or $50 a month tool to create an animated cartoon of your product, or idea.
    2. From around $60 a year for a useful video
  2. Animoto
    1. Amazing next generation slideshow video maker.
    2. From $30 a year.

Video Online - Private sales

  1. Vimeo Pro members ($200 a year) can sell videos using Vimeo on a 90/10 split.
  2. Eventer
    1. Allows a presentation to be synchronized after the fact with video and slides
    2. It has a very nice interface and secure access to your presentation
    3. For a $35 per talk per event you can monetize the video
    4. Features here

Free and Paid Image Sources

  1. MorgueFiles
  2. Best icon files web based

Other Marketing Tools

  1. Referral Networks.
  2. Proposal helper.
  3. Proposal helper.
  4. Revstream Launches Revenue App For Subscription-Based Businesses
    1. http://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/11/19/revstream-launches-revstream-cl...

Customer Support (Cases)

  1. Get Satisfaction Basic plan is free.
  2. ZenDesk Starter. $20 per year for three agents. Near free plan includes Jira Integration.

Cloud Hosting

  1. VMFarms From $88 mo.
  2. Pantheon
    1. Pantheon is the best Cloud supported Drupal environment we have found. (2012)
    2. This is what we use. We recommend it, features here.
    3. FAQ
    4. Pricing from $25 mo.
  3. DotCloud
  4. Digital Ocean
    1. Cloud servers for developers, all include SSD drives!
    2. Features here
    3. From $5 to $80 a month

Website Chat

  1. Clickdesk
    1. One Agent is free!
    2. 9.99 for main plan, $15 for white label one.

Accounting

  1. Wave 100% Free, ad funded, recommended.
  2. Freshbooks Free option, $20 for more.

HR

  1. SalesForce Work.com $5 p/worker per month
  2. TribeHR From $2 p/worker per month

SEO Tools

This part of the list is pretty much cribbed from Steve Blank’s list of tools for entrepreneurs. Go read it for a more comprehensive list of tools beyond the SEO/SEM listing included below. 1. Open Site Explorer - Analyzes websites for SEO 2. Google Keywords Tool 3. SEOBook Tools - Free SEO tools 4. AdGrok - Google adwords optimization tool 5. SEO Digger - Find the top ten keywords ranking to your websites 6. SEMRush - SEO and campaign management tool 7. Clickable - Pay per click management 8. Spyfu - tells you how much adwords cost 9. Market Samurai - SEO Keyword Analysis Tool

Images for Websites - the Affordable or Free List

  1. Big Stock Photo
  2. iStockPhoto.com
  3. ThinkStock
  4. Shutter Stock Photo
  5. 500Px Market
  6. Morgue File.com FREE
  7. Flickr.com Creative Commons License FREE

Images for Websites - the Expensive List

  1. Getty Images
  2. Corbis

Some of our Sources

  1. Startup North Recommendations 2011
  2. Pollenizer Tools

Learning Community / Teach / Learn

  1. Udemy.com a community with many quality free courses.
  2. MindFlash.com it empowers teachers to give virtual courses http://www.mindflash.com

Word Clouds - Graphics

  1. http://www.wordle.net/ The best we have found, but it does require Java.
  2. http://worditout.com/ OK.

MindMaps

  1. XTree, a great outliner and mind map like tool
  2. iThoughtsHD excellent for the iPad
  3. XMind great graphics and cross platform

Images and Stock Photography

  1. BigStock.com
  2. iStockPhoto.com
  3. http://placeit.breezi.com it allows you to put your screenshot in an iPhone or iPad with a nice background for free.
  4. MorgueFile Free stock photos.

International Time - Meeting Helpers

  1. What is the time in a city or country, compared to YOUR time.
  2. World Time Engine is similar, but it adds an API for a price.

Writing - Community Building Ideas

  1. Ideas on Getting Writers and Motivating them, more than crowd sourcing

Comments

the list is good and informative, thanks

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