The startup way: 10 web tools we use

When building a startup venture, small teams come up against several tough challenges. One being, how to deliver a lot of work in a little time, and how is this achievable with almost no budget? Luckily, these pains have been recognised by many great services that help small businesses punch above their weight.

In a startup environment, inefficiencies are punished more than anywhere else. After getting Personera off the ground, our team has learnt some lessons in selecting the right tool for the job at hand. Here are 10 online tools we use regularly and have come to love.


Gmail: Yes, we all know about it. But why isn’t everyone using Gmail yet? It is a web-based email service that is accessible anywhere, turns email conversations into elegant threads, handles attachments perfectly, and has an indispensable search function.

Skype: For conference calls, Skype can’t be beaten. It’s the best way to handle group voice calls, especially across different continents. Skype also has great rates if you need to make international calls to mobile phones or landlines.

Also check out: Campfire


Google Docs: Need to track team tasks? Google Docs is the answer to this, and a myriad of other collaborative activities like sharing project ideas or documenting competitor features. It takes less than a minute to start a document or spreadsheet from your web browser. Then invite team members and get things cracking.

Evernote: This app allows you to create text or multimedia notes, add tags for reference and save them in different notebooks. The slick desktop, web, and iPhone apps with automatic sync and killer search feature sets it apart. It’s not really a collaboration tool, but one that our team uses for effective information storage.

Also check out: Dropbox, PBWorks, Pivotal Tracker.


MailChimp: The ability to rapidly create email campaigns, manage recipient lists and measure analytics is why we choose MailChimp, and interfacing with their application programming interface (API) allows automatic updating of your user database.

SurveyMonkey: Keeping with the primate-named applications, SurveyMonkey is an excellent way to set up simple-to-sophisticated surveys. You can distribute a custom URL and analyse user feedback.

Website Grader: A light but powerful app that spits out a thorough and brutal analysis of your website’s level of search engine optimisation. Real-time benchmarking against competitors is particularly interesting.

Also check out:


Google Analytics: The best things in life might not be free, but this comprehensive analytics package sure is. It gives you detailed logs on your website traffic (technical, demographic, and behavioral information) along with neat data visualisations. Google Analytics can also track traffic from specific campaigns as well as measure user actions on site.

Crazy Egg: Understanding where users are clicking on your site, and with what frequency, is the question that Crazy Egg answers beautifully. Their detailed site heat maps can be broken down to show different types of users and their behavior, which is often enlightening to view.

Also check out: ClickTale, Google Website Optimiser


HelpSpot: This powerful help desk application makes handling customer queries light work. Despite its lack of design elegance, features such as ticketing, user accounts, email integration, and form responses are easy to find and use. HelpSpot also scales well; the award winning customer support team at uses it to service their three million growing users.

Also check out: GetSatisfaction, Zendesk

Most of the tools mentioned in this post have free usage plans, so costs can be kept to a minimum. This list should be particularly useful to entrepreneurs and product managers who are starting out.

There are loads of other awesome apps out there that make work easier. What are your favourites?



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