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Nov 07, 2019

50+3 Solutions for Early-Stage Startups

What are the top automation tools for early-stage startups?

 

We have asked our portfolio startups, checked those out and came up with the list of 50 Tools for Early-Stage Startups. Some of the apps/tools included here are still in the process of finding their market fit… and there are way too many of the solutions available in the same category. That’s why we had to highlight “+3” industries where you have to dive deeper and check the specific needs of your company in order to find the perfect solution.

In case you would like to download this article in PDF version, click here.

Brainstorming

1 – Draw.io
Draw.io is a completely free diagram editor. Personally used it for the last two years for doing mind mapping, team workflow creation, the visualizations of the sales pipelines etc. Read more about the mind mapping in the book ”Mastermind”, by Maria Konnikova. Meanwhile, enjoy draw.io.

2 – xMind
Xmind it’s a mind mapping and brainstorming tool. Mind mapping allows you to digitize your thinking process; map your habits, or simply brainstorm new ideas. Found in our portfolio startups. The easiest way to understand how to use mind maps is via COW. Check it out over here.

3 – Miro
How to make visual collaboration possible? Miro is a platform to create, collaborate, and centralize communication in the company. Kanban, value chain or business canvas could be visible anytime for each of your team members on the online whiteboard.

Planning

4 – Workflowy
WorkFlowy offers a very simple way to stay organized. In case you’d like to easily replace sticky notes, that would be a great first step towards digitalisation. Quite good Chrome add-on for Workflows is over here.

5 – Notion.so
Notion.so is web-based application. You can create a note, project or a webpage and share with others via shortened url. Also, it allows you to change the visual of the data (table, calendar view, etc.) in just several clicks

6 – MindMeister
Teams use MeisterTask to organize and manage tasks in case your team is using different lists and tasks. It’s like a cheaper mix of Trello, Jira and Pomodoro in one.

Other
There are a bunch of similar apps. Todoist, Wunderlist, Any.Do, Evernote. So what’s the difference between all of them? Price, design and amount of the features, which are being copied in the nearest 3 month from each other. Not in favor of any personally, so I’ll leave you the article with a deep description… and mark on my Notion.so task list as “Done” 😉 If you are still unsure, check out the article by ClaudWards called Battle of The Productivity Apps

Email

7 – Spark
The best personal email client for several email boxes. Intelligent email prioritization, noise reduction, and the most advanced email tools at your disposal. Problem: no opportunity to connect to HubSpot. Found in the portfolio startup.

8 – Airmail
One of the best alternatives to Spark is Airmail. It was based originally on the discontinued Sparrow client. Negative side: the app is left on Mac store without further development or any support.

9 – Gorgias
It’s free Google Chrome Extension. Allows to create hot-keys for enabling templates on Gmail, Inbox by Gmail and Outlook in just several clicks. Personally, using it for the last three years. One of the top free solutions available for Chrome.

10 – SaneBox
SaneBox is an AI add-on to your email box. Identifies important messages, hides distractions, has Do Not Disturb, banishes annoying senders, reminds you to follow up. Negative side: pricing seems to be too high.

11 – TypeIt4Me
The original Ettore text expander for Mac. It lets you create new shortcuts from within any application, using global hotkeys. Also, it enables you to define AppleScripts as snippets. Save time and effort. Recommended 🙂

Security

12 – Spinbackup
Spinbackup is a cloud-based backup platform, which allows to protect your organization against data loss in the cloud by backing up critical data to a secure cloud storage on AWS or GCP.

13 – Last Pass
Also remembers passwords. This alternative allows you to use the solution for the personal usage, the small teams and enterprise. It also has unlimited number of devices to be connected, so you can leave your work laptop at the office.

14 – Zoho Vault for teams
Alternative to OneLogin. Easy way to stop putting your passwords into excel, while automating password sharing as soon as someone updates it. One more great product by ZOHO.

Other
I would highly recommend you to look wider during your research on the security solutions for your startup. Please, check the article by the 1st Round Review, which can guide you on the right amount of security for early-stage startups and ways to implement it.

 

Time trackers & Blockers

15 – Clockify
Clockify is absolutely free time tracking software with an unlimited number of users. It allows you to do the proper time management of your team, including timekeeping, reporting, team activity, and others.

16 – Toggl
One of the most famous time-trackers used by freelancers. It’s a very easy application, which allows sharing the results with your customer/manager. It also educates you, how much your time is worth and gives a space for the optimization.

17 – FocusMe
How to optimise time and make sure you are following a schedule? Let FocusMe block websites and apps, when you are not supposed to use them. Just think how often do you check your emails? Make sure to get the things done and improve your productivity.

18 – RescueTime
RescueTime is a mix of Toggl and FocusMe, which also allows you to use personally or buy a team package. They also have some cool time management guides, which are available here.

19 – Timecamp
Time tracker which alines productivity monitoring, online activities, attendance tracking, integrations with your project management, without creating entries manually. Found in portfolio startup. Most advanced timing – tool for project management among selected.

 

Chrome extensions

20 – Session Buddy
Have you ever had a problem with opening a bunch of tabs each time for different projects? Like finishing report/research or finalizing monthly reports? Sessionbuddy saves all open tabs and collects them into folders. Later you can open them all in one click.

21 – Grammarly for Chrome
The first grammar checking tool, which actually works well in the web clients and other web applications. There is also “Grammarly Business”. Personally, a huge fan of this tool and found this tool implemented in almost every startup in our portfolio.

22 – All-in-one-messenger
All – in – one allows keeping all messengers (WhatsApp, Telegram, Messenger, Skype and many more) in a single tab on your browser. Combines chat and messaging services into one simple application… and then you block them all with FocusMe 🙂

23 – Momentum
Beautiful and inspirational add-on. Momentum is a dynamic wallpaper, which is being set on newly opened tabs. Eliminates distraction, allows you to set daily goals and beat procrastination. It won’t dramatically change your productivity level, but definitely will improve the mood 🙂

24 – Lightshot
The most comfortable way to take a screenshot, color it and send it as a link. You don’t need to save it or keep the track. One of the most commonly used Apps found in startups and freelancers.

Integrators

25 – Zapier
Who doesn’t know Zapier, hasn’t tried to integrate the soft, which is not suppose to be integrated. Map company processes, see which are repeatable and check out in Zapier if you could automate it several clicks. No coding required.

26 – IFTTT
IFTTT is the free way to get all your apps and devices talking to each other. Have you ever thought how to connects Gmail, Instagram, Telegram and Facebook? Just create “applets” via IFTTT. Just like Zapier, but mostly dedicated for more personal usage.

Other
Some of you might say, that Zapier is too expensive. Well, check out the TOP 12 Zapier Alternatives by helpjet.com. Integrate, automate, synchronize and optimize… just make thing done 🙂

Management

27 – Hubspot
Hubspot is great for connecting CRM, Sales, Marting and Support on a single platform. They do have the free version, which is quite good. Also, check out their Growth packages for fast-growing companies over here.

28 – Pipedrive
Your sales will love this CRM. Can’t say the same about the marketing specialists. Solution is incredibly comfortable for Sales department, but the integrations for the marketing purposes are quite complicated. Check out the native integrations here and do not forget about Zapier 😉

29 – Monday
It’s like the google sheets project management with drag&drop creator, templates and beautiful design. The price is quite high, but the design is great. Manage any workflow or process. Found only in one portfolio company.

30 – Asana
I think it’s one of the oldest solutions for project management. Quite well-developed platform for the decentralized teams. It has a lot of integrations. Still, found only in one portfolio company, as there is a verity of new solutions on the market.

31 – Trello
Trello’s boards, lists, and cards allow us to organize and prioritize projects. I hope most of you know Trello, but not all of you tried to implement the Marc Andreessen productivity system in Trello board. How to do it? Guided by Bryan Ye in this article.

32 – Amplitude
Behavioral analytics has never been easier. In the meanwhile, you can set up the growth strategy based on real analytics. From the cheaper alternatives, try to check out Mixpanel.

33 – Chartmogul
My favorite tool, which allows you to check the unit economics of your company. All metrics could be monitored and easily shared with your investor.

34 – Slack
Ladies and Gentleman, it’s startup classics. Communication platform used by most of the startups. You can start using it for free and add nice add-ons. Don’t forget to check all of them here. My favorite is Polly.

35 – HotJar
Another classic from the Startup industry. Create heat maps, collect feedback from your potential customers or implement Hotjar in the internal interface of your solution.

36 – Ahrefs
Do proper competition check. Ahrefs allows to check the demand on the market via the search results, predict the traffic and, as a result, Ahrefs allows to forecast the sales rates. In case you’d like to know more about their topic, write to me at victoria.umanska@bvalue.vc

Marketing

37 – CallPage.io
Lead generation callback.CallPage provide callback solution for businesses and allows to create a new channel for lead generation. It converts leads into clients in 28 seconds.

38 – PushPushGo
Push notification engine. PushPushGo is a platform for sending automatic web push notifications and allows to manage push notification as a separate independent source of lead generation and activation.

39 – Senuto
Saas for SEO optimization. SENUTO is a SaaS platform for comprehensive SEO support. It helps SEO specialists, publishers, bloggers, e-commerce and other online businesses to maximize traffic from Google.

40 – Landingi.pl
Landing Page Builder. Landing pages made lead generation easier. Create as many landing pages, integrate with other solutions and automate key tasks. Moreover, Landingi allows you to catch and manage your leads afterward as well. Try it out!

41 – Shoplo
E-commerce shop creator. Shoplo is a CMS e-commerce and multichannel platform. Through integrations with most popular merchandise platforms, Shoplo provides services and tools for starting your business.

42 – Mailchimp
Freemium version is very nice for the Early – Stage Startups. Still, MailChimp is an ideal solution for B2B Enterprise startups rather than fast-growing SMB segment solutions. Good for the start.

43 – Woodpecker
Woodpecker is a solution for the cold mailing, with available integrations to the most popular email boxes. Deep personalization and diverse analytics. I would rather use the tool in order to find new potential customer personas. Used by most of our portfolio startups.

Other

44 – Panda Doc
Startups grow fast, move from one office to another and somehow make sure all documentation is on the place. Let Panda keep the track of your documents, use their templates and digitize all of them properly 😉

45 – Business Cards Scanner → ABBYY
Going green? The best tool for scanning the business cards and automatically sending them an email, right after it gets to your contact book. Now you can use one business card over and over again.

46 – Fellow
Do you hire the best people and then don’t ask their opinion? Fellow is the tool for collecting feedback from your team. Wait for the best part – it’s integrated with Slack. Allow feedback to become part of your company development strategy.

47 – MixMax
MixMax is allowing to add new features to your Gmail box, also connects with your calendar and your email. Next time just insert mixmax to your email and allow to choose the time for the meeting from the email.

48 – Calendly
Calendly allows you to automate your appointments. Additionally, Calendly has a lot of integrations via Zapier. The small trick, I’m making Calendly for each of the conferences and sharing the link for 1-2-1 meetings. Very comfortable solution.

49- Typeform
Create a customizable form, survey or application form for free in several clicks. What the special souse here? The design. It’s easy and intuitive, what makes the customer journey smooth and not boring. Most of our portfolio companies used it at least ones.

50 – Wiki for Slack
The solution, which is used for the on-boarding processes of the New Hires. It allows you to create the wiki for slack. It’s something new, but I’ve seen better solutions done via Google Sites, which becomes available for the whole team and stays for free. Still, there is a demand and there is a solution.

It’s a first edition of the “Solutions for Startups” and we are already collecting the information for “Solutions for Startups 2.0”. Your feedback, comments and suggestions will be appreciated and could be sent directly to victoria.umanska@bvalue.vc.

 

 

Victoria Umanska

Associate at bValue VC