The best businesses are based on the stronger ones. Often I see startup founders & Entrepreneurs on forums/discussion boards/meetings asking for tools or should I say free tools to enhance their productivity. If you have been a part of startup, you would know how fast things move. You cannot waste your time waiting for someone to finish the job. Startups also work on a limited budget and hence it is difficult to employ dedicated resources for different tasks and also shell out cash for the same.
While there are many references on web which tell you about the best productivity enhancers.
- This forum tells you about a very large number of tools. http://b.qr.ae/MmH2xs
- This is another resource which tells you about some less famous jewels http://b.qr.ae/K4kHoK
However we felt that the amount of signaling on these two threads is also too much to read and digest. So, we have put up a a list of 10 tools that are not only great but are also very easy to use, understand and implement.
#1. Freemind: “My mind is brimming with so many new ideas I cannot contain them…where do I put them down!!” This phenomenon happens to all of us at some point of time or the other. Well, not to worry, Freemind comes to the rescue here. It’s a mind-mapping tool that allows the user to edit a hierarchical set of ideas around a central concept. Its has a very small foot print is totally free! Its alternative paid software “Mind manager may cost you upto USD 4k /license ( Close to INR 2 lakhs ). However, freemind is yet not available for iOS or Android
#2. Screenr: There are times when you have an app or a website but do not know how to showcase it. Well! Screenr does just this. It is a lightweight, web-based screen-recording tool. Turn it on, use your app and you have a’ How to’ video about your app in a few minutes. You can immediately share it on youtube or with everyone on your social network instantly Its also a great aplication to do usability testing of your application . Just a send a link of your app to your friends sitting anywhere on earth and tell them to talk aloud while test driving your application.
If you listen to the uservoice appropriately you can save a few upto USD 5K you may be thinking of paying a usability expert or consultant. Cons : Screenr does some post processing after each 5 minute session . If you get impatient with either 5 minute video limit or post processing , you may like to go for paid accounts
#3. goAnimate: So you want animated videos to be an important part of your promotional and marketing and virality plan. Can you hire a full time/part time animation expert ? When we started looking out for one,we got quotes of USD 100K(INR 5 Lakh) from one. Another agency quoted Rs 5000/seconds. We knew this was not an option… How did we go about it without depleting our scarce financial reserve? Tada! Presenting, goAnimate.com, Choose your theme, choose your characters, write a few dialogs and you have an amazing video ready to share on most of the social networks. Pretty simple isn’t it?Check out one of the WiC videos made using goAnimate here.
#4. Evernote: ‘Never forget anything’ is the tagline of this yet another “idea” capturer. You are travelling to your office and suddenly you get this amazing brainwave. You wouldn’t want that this one important thought to get lost with the multitude of other inane ones. You want to????, no, you need to record it somewhere so that it doesn’t slip away into nothingness. What do you do? Write on a paper chit and lose it ?? That’s old age. Enter Evernote. Save your ideas, things you like, things you hear, and things you see. Sync it with your PC or tablet and your ideas wont be lost anymore. Evernote also comes in the iPhone and Android app avatars making it that much more easier for those on the run. .
#5. Mailchimp: If you thought Bulk mailers are a tough job, think again. For all your email marketing needs here’s a tool you cant resist – Mailchimp. Organize your campaign and send it out to everyone in your corporate contact list. There’s more to Mailchimp than what meets the eye. Check it out for yourself.
#6. Dropbox: Do you still keep sending mails with large attachments ? Then edit those 7 MB documents and then resend them ? Forget the pain. Now you can just continue to improve your documents, business plans. Dropbox keeps notifying your team about changes being done on the document and its available in the same instant. Storage devices are the thing of the past- wireless sync is the future. Keep your important docs in dropbox and access those from anywhere. It’s very simple. You just need to download the dropbox client and you are good to go! Now you can save your 30GB broadband quota for more interesting stuff. See this cute video on www.dropbox.com
#7. Skype: If you still travel to meet people probably ,this cartoon may tell you where you stand .This is one of the most commonly used tools for communication. If you are one of the few who still do not know about Skype, see this :
For those who do not make sense of this Dilbert stuff : it is a service that allows users to communicate through voice, video, and instant messaging over the Internet. One of the best communication mediums for all your client calls and meetings. This one’s a must have. However skype sucks you when attendees are from more than 2 physical locations. Its prevents you from sharing screen. Come WebEx and you can have 25 diffferent people from different locations looking at your screen and your face while you present your product or plan. The best part is. It allows you to record the meeting so that you and those who were absent can play it back whenever you want. It’s a huge money saver on travels.
#8. Mantis-Bug Tracker: With software/product development going on in full throttle, sometimes we miss out on the bits that matter the most. All of you who have worked with labor arbitragers you wont think beyond bugzilla. We discovered that small oversights can result in loss of enormous amount of time and resources. Mantis is a free bug tracker which makes sure these bugs and issues are tracked properly and put to notice to the development team. MantisBT is a free, reliable and open source, web-based bug tracking system. You can now forego those SaaS based services which will drain you upto USD 20 /month ( INR 1000 ) We use it at WiC and trust us it has beautifully served its purpose for last 18 months. It however doesn’t have sexy looks.
#9. WooRank: The WooRank is an online web analytics tool that analyses any submitted website for conformance to SEO best practices and shows how it ranks against the competition. It gives a very comprehensive report based on which you can improve your website. Every web-based startup should try this atleast once.
#10. Quora: This is a must visit website for all the entrepreneurs out there. Quora is a question-and-answer website where you get quality answers that are relevant and to the point from its vast community of users. It’s a very effective tool to know about, well basically anything. .
The above is a small compilation of those tools which we personally used and found to be of immense value to a start up trying to find it feet and establish itself. We know many of you have used some of these tools . For a startup it is important not only to work hard and fast but also to play smart and save a lot of cash which can leak out to enterprise software or SaaS companies.
Like we say this is a personal compilation of useful tools. Feel free to share your views on these tools or suggest alternatives to add to this list. We would love to learn of more of these savvy little programs/apps/tools.
Intern @ WiC