How do you afford tools for your startup?

I’m at school right now and really want to use tools like Hubspot, Salesforce and Hootsuite, but can’t afford it. I want to grab a one month trial but don’t know if my startup will be profitable by then. What do I do?

It’s so difficult to bootstrap when the tech tools themselves can be so out of reach.

  • It might be worth trying to get a seed round going? Although if you haven’t got any traction/revenue this might be difficult.

    • A seed round? HootSuite is just $9/month. Salesforce is unnecessary if you don’t have a well refined sales team.

      Tools are only needed for optimizing a selling process that works. If you haven’t sold anything the manual, hard way, there is nothing to optimize.

      I’d advice to read 2 books on the subject: ReWork and The Lean Startup

  • Dude you’re going at this all wrong. You don’t have to go all enterprisey and big at the get go. HootSuite HAS a free plan and I just use TweetDeck which is also free.

    Starting a startup has never been cheaper with most tools having a totally free tier (Zoho is a free alternative to Salesforce – although I haven’t found the need for either).

    All the “tools” you mentioned are hardly required to start a startup.

  • We bootstrapped our startup on technologies/services that, in total, cost less than $50/month. If you’re not willing to put that much into your startup, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

    Our “stack”:

    Source control: GitHub (Micro plan)
    Project Mgmt: Sprintly (Free plan)
    Hosting: Heroku (free for one dyno)
    DNS: DNSimple ($3/month + $20/year for SSL cert)
    Analytics: Google Analytics, Mixpanel (Free plan)
    CRM/Lifecycle Messaging: Intercom (Free plan)

    The grand total for this setup is ~$15/month. We eventually upgraded a couple of these, but still stayed under $50/month well past our alpha launch.

  • At the early stage, you definitely do not need HubSpot. I doubt you even publish enough content to warrant using any marketing automation software.

    Use WordPress + MailChimp.

  • We used Zoho, MailChimp and other services with free/very low cost plans to get the business off the ground. We also tried 99Designs and dumped that too (got our money back). Even MSFT Office is on a monthly plan. And lease your infrastructure if you can. Conserve capital.

    Leave Salesforce to companies that can afford it. It will not help you grow in the early stages; actual sales, and smart use of available capital, will.

  • Your a startup – do you need those tools?

    Try to find a way around them. If your just starting you don’t have that many customer and you don’t need to automate everything. Learn the hard way first then add automation as you need to in order to keep up.

    Free Tools I use even today:

    google drive


    wufoo forms

    survey monkey

  • Be cognizant of our human nature to satisfy cravings for immediate gratification. Give yourself more financial runway than what what you think you’ll need. Mentally quadruple the amount of time that you think this effort will take. Assume your plans will drastically change over time.

    There is finally an abundance of services marketed towards startups. Hiten Shah has a service to sell ya and so do hundreds of other entrepreneurs. Many of the services are useful, but beware– you can easily end up spending hundreds a month on services that are nice to have but aren’t truly contributing towards your first phase nor long term strategy. Be wary of their free lollipops, too.

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