There are generally two things that start up companies need to get right: formation and sales. We’ve seen companies’ fundraising screech to a halt when formation is botched, and nothing kills a start up faster than making something no one wants. So, here are six software tools/services that you really need to know about so you can get these things right.
- Clerky – If there is any remote possibility that you will seek venture capital to fund your company, then you must be a Delaware C corporation. Your headquarters can be anywhere you want, just incorporate in Delaware. This is common. This is easy. Clerky does it for you, for a subscription fee, and takes care of annual filings, etc., . More so, it will correctly draft your founding documents, and help you avoid tens of thousands in legal fees. Clerky has legal tutorials and help so that you understand what all this stuff is. Heck, it evens fills out your 83(b) paperwork for you. If you don’t know 83(b), well, get over to Clerky right now. Your pre-IPO attorney’s will thank you.
- Wave – Accounting sucks for most founders. Quicken is no longer easy to use, and makes people cry. Wave is free, automatically does double-entry accounting in the background so you don’t even have to know what this is, and will do your payroll for you also (for a nominal fee). It integrates with your bank so you don’t have to do a whole lot other than smile and click send when VCs ask for your accounting. Proper accounting can not be easier than using Wave, period. And yeah, it’s really free, the company has been around ten years, yada, yada, yada…
- Sofos– After you’ve built your MVP and figured out your marketing/product development process, finding investors and customers is pretty much the crappiest part of getting off the ground. First time founders focus on product, second time around you realize that sales matter more. Sofos.ai is like hiring a sales monster to test out every possible permutation of customer and investor opportunity. Starting at $300 a month (the max primo service is around $1,000 a month) it will connect to your LinkedIn network and, like 1980’s Mike Tyson on Leon Spinks, will work over your extended network to set up sales/investors. They even include copy writing help to craft campaign message flows for maximum impact. If you opt for the primo package it includes a BDR who will schedule all sales and investor calls for you so you’ll just spend your days selling and talking to investors back to back.
- Growth Channel – Marketing agencies are expensive, and mortals have a limited ability to test out every permutation of digital marketing to optimize your company. Growth Channel uses AI to test millions of permutations of digital marketing channels to optimize the best chance for your success. Let’s hear it for the robot marketing apocalypse! Basic help starts at $20 a month (AI doesn’t need much food or shelter) but for the full $250, you get so much additional marketing insight power, it is a no-brainer. With everything from psychographic profiles of your customers to optimization strategies for the big five socials, you get a full service digital agency on a shoestring budget. So, you can spend the next 40 hours trying to figure out where to best place that new campaign and who to target, or just sign up for their service and let the robots optimize it for you at internet scale. Yep, easy choice.
- Foundersuite – While Sofos (above) will animalize your LinkedIn network to find and qualify investors, Foundersuite will help you to expand beyond that network and, most importantly, help you structure your IR function early with monthly investor letter update templates and tracking processes that make you look like a Sand Hill Road rock star even if you’re just working from Smallville. More so, they have a whole suite of discount services, templates for documents you’ll need (HR, finance, etc.), as well as a massive database of angels, accelerators and funds that want to be contacted by you now. Their dashboards are clean, easy to use, and informative when tracking large numbers of contacts and new introductions.
- Hubspot – If you’ve been reading this list closely and already had a startup, then you’re thinking, “hey, where’s Hubspot?” Yes, closing out our list is the titan of CRMs that does it all. Need a landing page fully integrated into everything else in your company? Yep, got that. Need to track all correspondence across your team with customers, investors and advisors? Yep, got that. Email campaign support? Yes, yes, yes! This is the Swiss army knife of CRMs and will help you to not only maintain good communications, but includes powerful tools to grow your sales dramatically, testing and tracking your efforts with excellent data capture and visualization that is simple, powerful and actionable. Pricing varies (they may even give you 3 months free if you’re a start up in a partner program) but starts at $40 a month for most companies.
So, get out there and start leveraging tools to incorporate correctly, grow insanely fast, and track metrics that matter. Software can be a powerful force multiplier when overcoming inertia and help spin the flywheel of success faster.