A Comprehensive List of Affordable and Essential Tools and Resources for Startups

Posted by Lloyed Lobo

Almost everyday I’m asked for recommendations on tools and resources for businesses.

Over the past few months, I’ve grown tired of emailing people links on everything from free accounting software to inexpensive explainer video production resources.

Going forward, I can simply point people to this one link. The list below is comprised of tools and resources that our company, Boast Capital, uses or our friends and associates have used and highly recommended.

If there is something awesome that should be included, please add it in the comments section below.

1. ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE

Wave Accounting is a free, simple and easy to use online accounting software. They also offer payroll integration at $3 per employee payroll, which is discounted as your company grows.

Kashoo is another good online accounting software. The pricing includes free (single user), $10 per month (3 users) and $20 per month (15 users).

2. STRATEGY AND EXECUTION

Manifast helps you set the strategic vision and goals for your business, and gives you the tools to keep you on track to achieve them. They’ve just launched a beta and are offering free trials for the software.

3. CAP TABLE MANAGEMENT

Capography replaces Excel as the standard way that startups maintain their cap table. If you’re giving a potential investor your pitch and they ask to share your cap table, this is the best way to do it. Capography is free for up to 20 people (investors, common shareholders, or someone you grant options to) and is $199 per year after that.

4. PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEE COLLABORATION

Trello is a free and super simple collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what's being worked on, who's working on what, and where something is in a process. Team members can also vote and prioritize projects. This is a great alternative to sticky notes on the wall.

BaseCamp offers a more comprehensive collaboration and project management toolset enabling you keep track of people, schedules, timelines and data. Basecamp offers a free 45-day trial and pricing starts at $20 per month for unlimited users and up to 10 projects at once.

5. CRM

Zoho is an easy to use, customizable CRM tool that helps you manage all your Sales, Marketing, Customer Support & Service, Inventory and Email within from one place. Zoho is free for up to 3 users and $12 per user after that.

6. DATA STORAGE AND SHARING

There are several like Dropxbox (2 up to 16GB free), Box (5 Gb free), and Google drive (5 Gb free) which offer more space than most people will ever need and have great tools for sharing.

7. DATA BACKUP

Backupbox is a great tool to move files and data automatically between online services like dropbox, box, Google drive, FTP, MySQL etc. 

8. EMAIL

Mailchimp provides free email marketing for up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month, offers great looking email templates, and provides all the analytics you’ll need.

9. LANDING PAGES

Launchrock is a free tool for testing your product or service before launch to see if there is any interest. You can also incent people to share the landing page with their friends via social media and email.

Unbounce is another great landing page tool with deeper analytics and some more bells and whistles; however, plans start at $50 per month.

10. MARKETING TRAINING

Inbound Marketing University is a great free resource to become proficient in online marketing. They offer seventeen free lecturers from leading marketers and the program culminates in an Inbound Marketing Exam.

11. PR

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) connects you with journalists who are on a deadline for an article and are looking for sources. Getting your story written by a journalist is still the best and most credible press you can get. The free account sends you three media alerts a day with plans starting at $19.99 per month for keyword based alerts and user profiles so journalists can better recognize you for future stories.

Pressitt is a free social media news release platform that enables you to create media rich press releases with images, video, and links, and share it on multiple online channels.

Pitchengine is another social media news release platform. You can create and publish unlimited pitches for free, but they have plans offering SEO, enhanced analytics and distribution starting at $19 per month.

PR.com is a great free press release distribution service. The releases are often syndicated on Google news.

12. REMOTE OFFICE

Levamen helps companies enable their remote employees to work more efficiently and effectively. Levamen is like an online office with rooms, meeting space, kitchen etc., where employees can pop into each others offices, schedule meetings, whiteboard stuff, and have conversations by the water cooler – all online. Levamen is free for up to 10 users and plans start at $30 per user per month after that.

13. SALES PRODUCTIVITY

Yesware is a gmail plugin that enables you to find out who opens your emails and clicks on your links, create email templates for different sales stages, sync emails to your CRM with one click, and get interesting insights on your email so you can optimize them for the future. Yesware is free for up to 100 tracking events per month and $4.99 per month after that. You can also get 100 free tracking for every friend you sign up.

Rapportive is a free gmail plugin that shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox - you can immediately see what people look like, where they're based, what they do, along with their social media profiles.

Boomerang is a Gmail plugin that enables you to schedule emails and set follow up reminders. Boomerang offers a free 30-day trial and is free for up to 10 messages per month, with plans between $4.99 and $14.99 after that.

14. SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT

HootSuite enables you to manage multiple social media profiles including twitter, facebook and linkedin, schedule messages and tweets, track mentions, and analyze traffic. Hootsuite is free for up to five profiles and plans start at $9.99 after that.

Pinerly is a marketing automation tool for Pinterest. We’ve seen several articles recently that show how Pineterest drives more sales than any other social network. Pinerly helps you take that further by enabling you to easily create Pinterest campaigns, get analytics on traffic and best times to post, and optimize campaigns to increase conversion. Pinerly is free to use for now.

Buffer prides itself on being a smarter way to schedule content on social media. All you have to do is add content to your Buffer and it gets posted at the most optimal times throughout the day. The free account gives you one account from each social network plus ten posts in your Buffer with the option to upgrade for $10 per month.

If This Then That (IFTTT) is a trigger and action based automation tool where you can create recipes to automate almost anything. For example, you can create a recipe to text you the weather update everyday, auto-retweet any tweet from @BoastCapital, or auto-save any picture you take to dropbox plus millions of other combinations. IFTTT is free to use for now.

15. SURVEYS

Surveymonkey is an easy to use, web-based customer survey tool that is free for up to 10 questions and 100 responses per survey. Unlimited plans start at $19 per month.

16. VIDEO MARKETING

Virool is a video marketing technology that matches relevant video content with the right audience to produce an incredibly high level of engagement. It works by distributing videos to influential sites, blogs, social games and mobile applications and provides real-time analytics on the campaigns. Virool offers a Cost per View model starting at 10 cents.

Vidcaster helps you create a video site that matches your brand, enables you to share your videos on multiple social media and video channels, and provides you analytics so you can see how your videos are performing. Plans range from free to $249 per month for more advanced features.

17. VIDEO PRODUCTION

Breadnbeyond is the most cost effective resource for explainer videos that are so hot these days, especially with startups. Most sources can cost you upwards of $10,000, but I know several startups that’ve had videos done for under $1,200 including video and voiceover. 

18. VIRTUAL PHONE SYSTEM

Grasshopper gives you a toll free number with unlimited extensions and includes call forwarding to mobile phones, voicemails via email, and a tool to manage everything online without any hardware to purchase. Plans start at $12 per month.

19. WEB CONFERENCING

Hookflash is a free app that integrates with your LinkedIn directory, giving business users a free alternative for voice, HD video and messaging. Hookflash is on a mission to replace your phone.

20. WEB MEETINGS

Anymeeting is a full-featured webinar and web meeting solution (video, audio, screen sharing, chat and recording) that is free for up to 200 attendees. I haven’t found anything quite like this given the closest alternatives are over $40 per month for far less attendees.

Company:
HootSuite Media, Inc.
Website:
http://www.hootsuite.com
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

HootSuite is a social relationship platform for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute social media strategies across multiple social networks from one secure, web-based dashboard. Launch marketing campaigns, identify and grow audience, and distribute targeted messages using HootSuite’s unique social media dashboard. Streamline team workflow with scheduling and assignment tools and reach audiences... more

Company:
Unbounce
Website:
http://www.unbounce.com
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Create, Publish and Optimize Landing Pages without IT. Unbounce is the fastest and most powerful DIY landing page platform, designed with one thing in mind: Conversion. A simpler and more streamlined workflow so your marketing team can focus on creating, publishing and measuring your campaigns without the usual bottleneck associated with working with IT or developers. more

Company:
Wave
Website:
http://www.waveapps.com
Location:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Wave makes it easy to be your own boss. Just do what you're good at, and lean on Wave's smart online software for help with invoicing, accounting and payroll. Wave makes your money-related task easy with: • unlimited invoicing, absolutely free! • accept credit cards on your invoices with our "pay now" feature with a super-low, easy-to-understand flat fee • expense tracking with no more manual entry! Connect with... more

Company:
Boast Capital LP
Website:
http://www.boastcapital.com
Location:
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

With offices in Calgary, Vancouver, and Silicon Valley, Boast Capital is a financial advisory firm specializing in R&D cost recovery from the government through the Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) program, Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (IDMTC) program and the US R&D Tax Credit program. Our long-standing reputation with the CRA, deep financial and technical expertise in Information and... more


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Lloyed Lobo

Lloyed Lobo

Lloyed Lobo is a startup evangelist and community leader – he is a Global Facilitator at Startup Weekend, Instructor at Startup Weekend Next, Board Member at Startup Calgary, and Startup Columnist at Calgary Herald. He is also Partner at Boast Capital, a financial advisory firm with offices in Calgary, Vancouver and Silicon Valley specializing in R&D Tax Credits, and a Partner at Plug and... more



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