With countless apps available and dozens that I’ve downloaded personally, there are actually only a few that truly help your business everyday. As a lean startup, I quickly learned the importance of great and free apps. Below is my list of top apps for your startup and mine.
One theme that all of these have in common: communication. Being able to communicate quickly and reliably is critical in a startup. Whether it is with team members, customers, other startups, investors, or else anyone interested in your company – being able to communicate is key to your success.
1.) Olark/imo- Free
- Hands down this has been our best customer engagement tool. Installing the freemium version on your website is easy and instantaneously connects you to anyone who visits your site. It offers a friction-free pipeline to customers. By being available to customers in a live chat instead of solely email, we have improved our conversions as well as overall satisfaction.
- Secret: You can see a live view of web traffic on your site. This comes in handy to catch referrals in real time.
- In action: At RidePost we have 24/7 live customer support from the palm of our hand. Customers constantly are chatting with questions, suggestions, or ideas. The surprising benefit is how many media interviews we have done through our Olark/imo app.
- Group chat perfection for free in one app.
- Secret: It keeps your private SMS feed uncluttered by work related chat. Plus, it saves time having to type in each team member you frequently send a text too.
- In action: We have a small group of local startups that use GroupMe to stay in touch with each other rather than emailing.
- “The basics are beautiful” – 37 Signals nails it with their simple and intuitive products. Campfire is a great way to keep up with your team discussion anywhere. Campfire stores the chat log so that no conversation is lost. This comes in handy for recording impromptu brainstorming sessions.
- Secret: For startup teams of 4 team members or less, it’s free.
- In action: I write down a product idea in our campfire chat before I forget it and then can then have our team come see the idea later when we are all available. This avoids distraction and keeps the conversation open.
4.) Twitter- Free
- Easy and immediate communication with your customer is key when starting up. Twitter is the best social media outlet to publish news to followers and keep your thumb on the pulse of your community.
- Secret: Twitter’s app keeps clutter at a minimum and you on target without additional features to distract you. Third party apps offer more bells and whistles – stick to the basics.
- In action: We landed our first free ad placement because of a late night twitter conversation.
- Sharing documents among your team members is crucial. So too is instant access to company information. Anything from documents to logo designs and financials to data dumps can be stored in the cloud for anyone to review and update anytime.
- Secret: It is easier than you may think to remain on the free plan by referring others to Dropbox. Even my mom now uses Dropbox which helped increase my storage size (thanks mom!)
- In action: Let’s face it – we don’t back up our laptop nearly as often as we should. When my co-founder’s hard drive recently crashed we lost nothing because his default folder to save files is Dropbox.
Bonus- Your Own!
- In a startup, you never know when the next opportunity to share your product and story will be. Always being able to showcase your product gives more meaning to conversations.
- Secret: Having a live demo of your product on hand sets a tone with anyone you speak to. Being iPad friendly helps when chatting with investors.
- In action: I’ve shown our product to people on my iPhone anywhere from an airport to a coffee shop.
Do you have apps that have helped you or one that is worth looking at?
If so, let me know: Marty at RidePost.com