HN: We’re creating a “Startup toolbox”. What apps should go in it?


I’ve had several readers write to me asking what tools I recommend using to build a startup. My answers are typically along the lines of:

Mass Emails: Mailchimp
Hosted Email: Google Apps for Business
Hosting: MediaTemple
Web Analytics: Google Analytics
Mockups: Photoshop (or Pixelmator for really tight budgets)

I’m still discovering great apps every day and I thought I would create a toolbox for startups that are still getting their feet wet up and running in no time. I would love to leverage the community’s input before I publish the “Startup Toolbox” next week and I was curious if you would be willing to share what tools your startup uses with me.

My plan is to contact the companies that make the apps and try to strike a deal with them to get a price break for startups that come from the “Startup Toolbox”. Admittedly this is dependent upon the developers, but I promise I will do my best to convince them. Worst case scenario we have a great index of apps for startups to get up and running with. We’d love to be able to promote great apps (and developers) while making life a little easier for startups too.

If you have other ideas I can also be reached on twitter or via email (paul@codesketch.com).

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  • For project management and keeping track of tasks for a team, I’ve really liked Basecamp (http://basecamphq.com/). However, Basecamp can be a bit pricey, so you might want to check out the free Basecamp clone called Freedcamp (http://freedcamp.com/). If you’re working solo, I highly recommend Remember the Milk (http://www.rememberthemilk.com/).

    (Although, honestly, it would be great to see a project management suite that was a web-based MS Project that integrated with mail and calendar. I want something that shows tasks as a gantt chart that you can assign resources to, that tells those resources (i.e. people) what they should be working on in their calendar, and emails them when new tasks are assigned. Why hasn’t anybody made this yet?)

  • I’m a huge fan of Unbounce for landing pages.

  • How about http://socmetrics.com for marketing and building word of mouth for your startup

  • Tuyen Truong

    TeamWork Live (http://www.teamworklive.com) for project management and collaboration.

  • Anonymous

    Honestly I don’t think MediaTemple is the right choice for hosting. I’d recommend an inexpensive pay-as-you-go service like EC2, Heroku… or one of the upcoming node.js hosting platforms.

    Photoshop? Hmmm, maybe, but if there’s a designer on board, he’ll have his own copy… and if there’s no designer on board, then the person using it will probably struggle / find it to be overkill for their needs. Hell, it’s cheaper to outsource at least part of your design to someone than to buy a Photoshop license.

    Great concept in general though. If it could be sold has a bundle with a discount, it would be interesting for sure!

    • agree with jerome — you’d need to run a survey and ask entrepreneurs what they’re looking

      Those apps are only good for making a landing page, not for actually building a startup

      • guest

        Only good for making a landing page? Are you joking?

    • Heroku? That’s far more expensive than most VPS. I’ve been using Linode for some time and they rock (used SliceHost, which is also fine but more expensive). I agree with Paul on all his choices so far.

      • Anonymous

        Heroku is free to start with. You can easily put your prototype up there for a short while. When it’s ready to be launched for real then absolutely yes, move to a VPS or a dedicated server (if you have the people to manage that)! Way cheaper.

    • I agree that MediaTemple is perhaps the wrong choice for fledgling startups.

      I would throw Linode as a cheap, general purpose host; while reserving the right to specifically call out Heroku / AppEngine for ‘free’ apps, or EC2 for a pay-as-you-go model.

  • Cheap A/B testing with PickFu: http://pickfu.com Great for names, ad copy, image variations, etc.

  • Hey Paul – you can’t forget about the apps for remembering stuff!

    Shameless plug, but I use Pocket (http://letspocket.com) every single day to record ideas for blog posts, startups, projects – pretty much everything. I designed the app with myself in mind, and I’ve since become a power-user of my own app 🙂 I should send you a screenshot containing the hundreds of colorful notes on my dashboard. It’s actually pretty interesting!

  • Anonymous

    How about Workflowy? Very useful tool for jotting down notes and staying organized.

  • Rak

    domain: godaddy.com ($7.67 with promo code)
    hosting and db: google app engine (free)
    mail: google apps (free)
    support: getsatisfaction (free)
    blog: tumblr (free)
    graphics: gimp (free)
    analytics: google analytics (free)

    – this is what I use for all my projects: http://shaloc.com, http://checkinmania.com, http://misotrendy.com and more at http://initlabs.com

  • Jotform.com for contact forms, surveys, feedback buttons, and lead generation forms. We’d be happy to be part of the toolbox. 🙂

  • rk

    Quick online database apps : iFreeTools Creator – http://creator.ifreetools.com

  • Anonymous

    socialmention.com
    Google website optmizer
    btbuckets.com
    trendslate.com

  • Ryan Doherty

    Photoshop for mockups? Balsamiq is the best for mockups! (http://balsamiq.com/)

    1) Linode – hosting
    2) Basecamp – project management/collaboration
    3) Lighthouse – bug tracking

  • Anonymous

    Great comments everyone. What categories do you think we should have?

    • For categories, here are my $0.02:

      Domain Name Registry – I like NameCheap.com, but are lots of alternatives
      Web Hosting – Linode.com, Google App Engine, lots of other great options here too
      Hosted Mail – Google Apps
      Email Marketing – MailChimp.com
      Accounting – Been using QuickBooks, but Outright.com & FreshBooks.com look cool too
      Outsourcing – oDesk.com and eLance.com
      Time Tracking – I dig GetHarvest.com
      Customer Support – GetSatisfaction.com or UserVoice.com
      Web Analytics – Google Analytics, ChartBeat.com, MixPanel.com, KISSMetrics.com
      A/B Testing – VisualWebsiteOptimizer.com
      Wireframes – I dig Balsamiq.com
      Knowledge Management – Google Sites, Google Docs, Dropbox.com, Evernote.com
      Project Management – BasecampHQ.com, tho you should choose the best for your team
      File Sharing – LetsCrate.com (just saw them here, they look neat)
      Blogging – Tumblr.com, Posterous.com, WordPress.com
      Billing – Recurly.com, Spreedly.com, PayPal.com, or build your own
      Source Control – GitHub.com
      Screen Casting – Screencast.com
      Screenshot Sharing – Skitch.com

      And here’s another vote for the comprehensive list at:
      http://startuptools.pbworks.com/w/page/17974963/FrontPage

  • Paul,

    I’ve created a Collaborative Task Manager, http://managewith.us which allows remote members of a team to manage a list of tasks, seeing updates in real-time (a bit like Etherpad).

    There’s a free version, but I’d be happy to give your readers a discount on the Pro and Enterprise packages (they are relatively affordable anyway).

    If you’re interested drop me an email, which is info@ the domain above 🙂

    Andy

  • peta.cheese

    PHPlist for mass mailing – FREE and open source
    usertesting.com – usability testing

  • Visual Website Optimizer for A/B testing 😉

  • All hosted i.e. cloud-based:

    cacoo.com – diagramming
    sliderocket – slides / presentation
    force.com platform – free hosting up to a point
    wordpress.com – blogging
    pivotal tracker – project management

  • Do you know http://startuptools.pbworks.com/ ? A toolbox for startups created by london startups. Pretty complete already !

  • I built a http://startupdeathclock.com after reading Jason Cohen’s post on the topic: http://blog.asmartbear.com/death-clock.html

  • Stu

    Accounting: http://www.outright.com
    Invoicing: http://www.getharvest.com
    Time Tracking: http://www.1daylater.com
    Backup/Sharing: http://www.dropbox.com
    Docs: docs.google.com

  • Bigtones

    If you’re using Google Apps you should definitely use Insightly for CRM

  • skype is really important.

  • For Graphics: The Gimp and Inkscape

  • Nice post. We are happy to see that you are proudly hosted on (mt) and are thankful that you are recommending us to the world. Of course when it comes down to it, deciding on which companies and products to use will vary based upon a customers needs, budget, etc. But of course, we certainly appreciate the shout out and love that you are an (mt) advocate.

  • Anonymous

    Tonido (http://www.tonido.com) is great for a self hosted, web based file and collaboration server. Great for small teams.

  • Just a few more to the list, CyberDuck for FTP, FireBug to make building the site snappier and PayPal IPN for simple payment integration.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps a list of Free API’s. Ranging from communication to invoicing. Especially if you are involved in an E-Commerce startup.

  • One cant depend on one site.We should do some sort of surveys for searching what viewers exactly wants.As far as website analysis is concerned,I strongly recommend http://www.gostas.com for website analytics.Ideal for those who want a comprehensive web statistics counter to analyze their site visitors.

  • Here’re my two cents for favorite apps we are using on our own start-ups:

    Email: Google Apps (free)
    Team Management: 37Signals Suite ($99/m)
    Email Marketing: http://sendloop.com (free plan as well as very affordable other plans)
    Website Analytics: Google Analytics (free) + Getclicky.com ($59/yr)
    Website mockups: https://gomockingbird.com/
    Bug tracking: JIRA – Atlassian
    Support System: Helpspot (we are also evaluating assistly.com)

    • I forgot to mention. We also use Google Sites (free) for our internal documentation.

  • Johnson

    These posting is truly contain huge amount of information on project management tools. I think it would be more effective for all http://teamplifier.com

  • hq

    3 years later, I build one. Pls check it out at http://HackerToolbox.com. Let me know your thoughts.