I bootstrapped my startup Jodilogik and launched the application in late 2015. I am a first-time entrepreneur who gave up a well-paying job to start a company. That meant a few things:
1. I quickly realized the value of drinking water to quell hunger.
2. I was happy to attend every wedding and birthday party to build up my fat reserves.
3. Most importantly, I realized the value of FREE tools and services to help launch my product!
For the benefit of hungry first-time entrepreneurs, here is a list of must have tools that will help you launch your startup without spending a paisa as long as you can borrow a laptop and find free Internet!
1. Use a free “Coming Soon” page
Once you decide to take a plunge into launching your startup, the first thing you need to do is to start marketing your product before you even launch it! Create a custom landing page with a brief description of what your product is and let the visitor share their email id for updates. How cool is that? I used Launchrock to create a landing page before launching Jodi Logik.
2. Get your free email id
3. Launch a free website
Weebly offers a great platform to create really cool websites without coding anything. WordPress is yet another option for creating
websites free of cost! My vote goes for WordPress for the sheer convenience and features available through WordPress plugins.
4. Get your site hosted for free
Amazon offers a free instance of their basic cloud configuration for one year. Another option is to apply for the Microsoft BizSpark program. If you are selected, you will get 3 years of free Azure services along with product licenses for most Microsoft products. Once you have your free hosting taken care off, you can install WordPress software for free. This does require some technical skills, though.
5. Design awesome social media content for free
It’s important that you start becoming active on social media to start promoting your brand or product even when it’s all work-in-progress! You will need a proper cover photo for your company’s Facebook and Twitter pages and ongoing content that will work well with social media platforms. Canva is a free tool that lets you create awesome designs not only for social media posts but also for brochures and presentations. This is a must have for every bootstrapped entrepreneur.
6. Prototyping tools for free
One of the first things you will probably do as a Startup entrepreneur is to give shape to your idea. If you are creating a web application or a mobile app, you will probably need a prototyping software or wireframing tools. Use Pencil to create your wireframes and use the free version of Marvel to create more realistic screens.
7. Free tracking tool for your projects
By far the best way to track all your projects – engineering, marketing, fundraising is Trello. This is an awesome free tool that you can use to collaborate with your co-founders or anybody else that’s working with you. Of course, if you have licenses for Microsoft products, use Excel sheets or you can always fall back on Google docs. Evernote is another option to consider.
8. Free online storage
Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive are three tools that you can leverage for free to store all your documents. By the time you reach the storage limits, you would be making millions any way to afford paid upgrades.
9. Free stock images
You will need lots of images to use in your website or marketing content and there is one place where you can get royalty free images. It’s The Stocks. This is like a superstore of images you can use from multiple royalty free image sites.
10. Email management tools
When you start gathering email leads for your startup or have a blog page going, you will need some way of communicating with your audience. Mailchimp is free to begin with and provides a convenient way to send updates and track how your emails are performing. This is a must have tool for any startup.
11. Survey tools
When you start a company, you will probably need to seek your customer’s opinion or opinion from prospective customers on your product or idea. Survey Legend and Survey Monkey are two useful survey tools that will allow you to create surveys and track responses.
I have listed key tools and services that are available for free and this is not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination. I did use most of the above tools for my startup and this article is my way of helping those that might find a use for free stuff to launch their idea.
Please remember that if you want to use advanced features or have more users, you will have to graduate to a paid version in most of these tools.
Do you think you have any other free tool that is worth mentioning? Share your thoughts!