While attending the TechStars Patriot BootCamp event for veterans, Kelley Hilborn, Director of Community for Softlayer, and I led a discussion about startup resources. We discussed products, services, and tools that allow startups to do more faster. Following is a list of those resources. If you have any that you would like to share, please do so in the comments section of this blog.
“Our [Cheezburger Network] philosophy is to outsource everything that we’re not great at to someone who is a proven and scalable leader, preferably without paying them.”
– Ben Huh
2. SendGrid for email delivery
20% of legitimate emails don’t make it to the inbox. That’s devastating for a startup. Imagine if your customers never get your confirmation or receipt emails? Instead of building out your own email infrastructure, trust our experts to get the job done.
3. SoftLayer for cloud services
There is no reason to waste time and money building out servers for your startup. Let SoftLayer do the heavy lifting so you can focus on your startup. Did I mention their $1,000 a month hosting credit for a full year!?
3. Balsamiq for screen prototyping
Instead of pouring money into coded prototypes, utilizing valuable developer time, use Balsamiq to quickly convey your ideas and get feedback. Iterate quickly and once your happy with the prototype, then start coding.
4. Join.me or Google Hangouts for web meetings
Remote teams are here to stay and text messaging can only go so far. Utlize one of these services so that you can share your work and gain quick feedback. Just be sure to make each meeting productive.
No need to worry about creating redundant file systems, elaborate backup schemes or pull your hair out over failed syncronizations between devices. Install the native apps on each device and forget about it.
6. Evernote for organizing tidbits of information
Use Evernote as your everything bucket, keeping all of the information needed to run your startup at your fingertips across all of your devices. With the pro account, you can take advantage of their OCR feature and go paperless while adding the ability to search your scanned documents.
7. FullContact for keeping on top of your contacts
We all know how important networking is, so invest the resources to ensure your contact information is up to date without sacrificing hours of tedious work.
8. Snagit for screencasting
Often, the best way to describe a bug/feature is with video, especially if the person to whom you need to communicate with is in a different time zone. You can also create quick how-to guides for your customers and reduce the number of support calls.
9. MogoTest for making sure your applications look great on every browser
It’s likely that your userbase will have diverse means of viewing your app. Make sure that the experience is what you expect across the major platforms. Use web analytics to help you focus.
10. Pivotal Tracker for project management and issue tracking
You need an interactive way to communicate with your users and engineers regarding features and bugs that need completing. Pivotal Tracker makes this process easy and you wont need to worry about maintaining any systems. Do take the time to create your own work flows, then adapt the tool to meet your needs.
Keep your code base revisioned and securely backed up and easily sharable amongst your team. You may also consider opening up portions of your code to gain community feedback and support.
12. SnapEngage for chatting with customers who visit your website
When your user has a problem, they generally would like an answer right away. Besides phone, often a quick chat is an optimal solution. Make it easy for your customers to communicate with you.
13. Twilio for audio conferencing and phone and SMS services
If your app will communicate with your users via phone or SMS, look no further than Twilio. They make it really easy and cost effective to integrate with your app. You can also use their service to create a great phone customer service experience.
14. Vanilla Forums for hosting a great forum for your community
Many times, your user community can help each other. So make sure it’s easy for them to do so and save hours of customer support time.
15. RSS & Instapaper or Pocket
Use RSS to help filter the information overload and keep focused on the data that is important to your startup. Then use Instapaper or Pocket to save longer articles for offline reading.
16. Visit and explore F6Success
There are tons of deals for startups at F6Success ($467k worth as of this writing). You should go there right after reading this blog post and take advantage of the amazing resources there. There are also startup programs, events and a forum to utilize.
17. Attend relevant events via Meetup.com
Get outside of your building and network with like minded people. Try to attend at least one event per month. There is nothing like in-person interactions to propel your startup to the next level.
18. Check out the Techstars Perks and GAN.co
Techstars offers some amazing perks for its members ($265k as of this writing). Take the time to look through the list and determine which perks will help your startup get to the next level.
19. Attend The Startup Institute
If you are willing to travel to Chicago, Boston or New York, check out the Startup Institute. There, you will learn the skills required to engage deeply with the startup community.
Bonus Tip: Attend The Devry Bootcamp
We wish your startup the best of luck and would love to hear what you’re working on. Drop us a note in the comments and share your startup with us (and the world). Don’t forget to share this post with your startup brothers and sisters.