30 Free Tools for Startups to Kickstart Growth
Today's rapidly growing business landscape has created a high demand for free startup apps, tools, and technology. More than 4.3 million businesses got their start in 2020, a 24% increase from the year before and the highest number in 15 years. Entrepreneurs didn't slow down in 2021, starting over 1.3 million new businesses in Q1 and 1.4 million in Q2’21.
Startups need software to keep projects and teams on track, but they have limited resources and budgets. That's why the best tools and apps help people do their jobs, without jeopardizing an entire year's budget.
Whether your startup is just getting off the ground or is ready to scale up, there's always room for improvement. We rounded up the top free and low-cost apps to help boost productivity and support any new startup's growth.
The Best Free and Low-Cost Tools for Startups
1. Stripe Atlas
Launch your startup from anywhere in the world with Stripe Atlas. The platform makes it simple to form a legal entity in a few days, issue company stock, and start accepting payments. This includes the paperwork to form a company, state filing fees, tax ID (EIN) filing, and templates for legal needs after you get started.
Simplify data ingestion between partners, customers, and third parties with Osmos. Osmos Uploader tool lets you (or anyone sharing data with you) clean messy data before importing it into your operational system. No-code tools make it easy for non-technical teammates to format, clean, and upload data.
3. Google Cloud
Google Cloud is a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses for Gmail, YouTube, and Google Search. Use it to create and run your company's infrastructure, while getting technical training, guidance from Google engineers, and resources to run your business.
4. Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud computing services platform, and its AWS Activate product is designed specifically for startups. Companies can apply to one of two programs—Founders or Portfolio—to access inexpensive computing services, including database storage, support credits to help cover service usage, technical support from AWS engineers, and pre-built infrastructure templates.
Azure is a cloud computing platform that supports on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge environments. With startup-specific support, companies can build, run, deploy, and manage applications across multiple clouds. It's a good option for businesses with tight budgets or those with existing Windows Server and SQL Server licenses.
For companies with larger teams and complex projects, Asana is the ideal project management platform. Create lists, flag priority tasks, manage task dependencies, and choose the layout that works best for your team. With over 200 integrations, it's easy to sync company data between applications so you never lose track of tasks or miss deadlines.
Send and share quick videos, whether you're managing a remote, hybrid, or in-office environment. Loom is a video messaging and communication platform that makes it simple to send videos of your screen and camera. Share a weekly code demo, help troubleshoot a customer issue, or make onboarding more personal with a quick video recording.
Trello is a project management platform that uses Kanban-style boards to keep teams on track. A variety of layouts, like boards, lists, and cards, help visualize project needs. The intuitive design makes it simple to create timelines, view projects in a calendar format, and collaborate with teammates. The free version is perfect for startups and small businesses who want a simple, intuitive platform for tracking work.
Notion is an operating system to manage teams and company resources, from meeting notes to complex project workflows. No-code tools give you the freedom to manage individual, team, and company-wide initiatives. As a new startup, you can apply to get $1,000 or $500 in credits for team-based plans.
Zapier makes it simple for anyone to automate business processes and workflows. With over 3,000 integrations, it's easy to pass information between applications and create custom workflows. Know when a work request comes in, instantly add files from email to Dropbox, or set up an email trigger campaign to engage new customers—all without a developer.
Calendly makes it simple to schedule meetings without all the back-and-forth communication. By integrating with your calendar, the platform knows when you're free and when you're booked so it's simple for people to view your availability and instantly schedule a meeting. Customize your availability so you never get an unexpected invite, and reschedule meetings without having to reach out to invitees.
Mailchimp has the tools you need to build, manage, and automate all your email marketing campaigns. Use the platform's four components—Audience, Brand, Campaigns, and Insights—to learn about your audience and create personalized content. Templates let you create custom designs, while targeting tools help get your message in front of the right person, at the right time.
Bring business cards, banners, logos, social media posts, and more to life with Canva. This no-code platform and pre-built templates turn anyone into a designer. Start with a blank canvas or browse hundreds of design ideas. Collaborate with your team and manage brand assets within the platform. Once your graphics are perfect, you can download and publish them to your site or schedule posts to go live on your social accounts.
Collect, analyze, and control customer data to find product-market fit. Segment simplifies data collection by reducing tracking code and advertising tags into a single API so it's simple to gather user data from mobile, web, or servers. Segment offers early-stage startups access to its software for up to two years through its Startup Program, accepting applications from companies less than two years old with under $5 million in funding.
Create engaging surveys for customers, employees, leads, and more with Typeform. Custom layouts and themes let you whip up an on-brand survey in minutes, rather than hours, and conditional logic ensures you ask the right follow-up questions. Integrations make it easy to sync responses to Google Sheets or receive a Slack ping when someone fills out a survey.
SurveyMonkey is a free survey software to help you get the insights you need to drive growth. Optimize the buyer's journey, collect employee feedback, or A/B test a new campaign with 10-question surveys that are easy to set up and send. Free users can view 100 responses per survey, track email responses, and optimize surveys for mobile.
Zoom is a business-oriented video communications tool for staying in touch with customers, teams, and partners. Hold one-on-one HD video and audio meetings or invite up to 100 participants. Powerful built-in tools include a cloud phone system, recording features, mute and chat functions, and host management, so you control who joins and participates in each meeting.
Keep your team connected with an all-in-one platform for text, video, and audio communication. Slack uses chat-based messaging to help companies stay in touch throughout the day, whether that means asking for clarity on a task or celebrating a company win. Set up individual channels for each team or project to keep messages relevant and productivity high.
Otter is an AI-powered platform for transcribing notes, meetings, and audio and video files. Upload an existing file or record a new conversation and receive a transcription back within hours—sometimes, minutes. Edit, search, speaker ID, and playback functions help you quickly scan the transcription for the information you need.
Carta is a fundraising and equity management platform, and its Launch product is designed specifically for early-stage startup founders. Carta uses real-time financing benchmarks to model funding rounds and automated tools to help you stay organized when closing rounds. Issues equity to employees and investors, auto-sync new hires with your cap table, and learn from a community of like-minded founders.
Brex is an all-in-one banking and financial software for businesses. It has everything you need to run your company's finances, like a business account, credit card, spend management software, and live support. Send free ACH and wire transfer worldwide and track expenses to keep your business in the black.
Control your business finances with Wave, a free invoicing and accounting software. It offers credit card processing, automatic invoices, recurring payments, receipts, payment reminders, and more. A mobile app lets you review and manage income and expenses on the go, and the user-friendly interface makes it simple to track invoices and payments.
Square is a point of sale and payment platform to help you keep every sale in sync. Accept, request, and collect payments from online or retail stores. Send professional invoices, set up auto-billing, and get access to reporting tools all in one platform. Square also offers hardware that integrates with the online software so businesses can organize buyer history and keep track of inventory.
Electronically request and collect legally binding signatures with HelloSign. It allows you to add signatures to any document and secure signed files in Dropbox. Use it as a web interface, an API, or a Salesforce add-on to get signatures from new hires and clients, or on NDAs and loans.
Gusto is a payroll and benefits management platform for any size company. Originally designed for small businesses and startups, it comes with everything you need to manage payroll, 401(k) plans, healthcare benefits, and time off for your team. When you start to expand, send offer letters, create individual profiles, and manage onboarding all within the platform.
Retool empowers companies to build the internal tools they need to move business forward. Learn how to quickly build apps, admin panels, dashboards, and more with Retool University. Then, use pre-built templates to bring your ideas to life, without hacking data sources or wrestling with access controls. If your company was founded less than five years ago and has raised less than $10 million, you can apply to the Retool for Startups program to get a year of free Retool credits.
HubSpot is a CRM software solution that lets you take charge of marketing, sales, service, and operations all in one platform. Its free solution is perfect for startups who need to move leads through the pipeline, convert visitors to customers, run inbound marketing campaigns, curate customer data, chat with visitors or customers in real-time, and more.
Stop scheduling your social posts through tedious copy/paste and start automating it with Hootsuite. This social media management platform connects all your social networks and automatically schedules and publishes content in a few clicks. Use the Hootsuite dashboard to manage content and stay on a consistent posting schedule, and respond to follower comments quickly by viewing all conversations in a single thread.
Keep all your files organized and secure with Dropbox, a cloud storage solution. Multiple layers of privacy let you choose which teammates or clients can access files. You can even accept and share files with people who don't have a Dropbox account. Compared to Google Drive, this software is ideal for startups that need to share and store large files, and access them from any device.
Box is a cloud storage platform for file creation and sharing. It allows teams to collaborate in real-time with people both inside and outside of your business, yet it keeps files safe with cloud-native security and access controls. With more than 1,5000 integrations, it's simple to sync Box with your company's apps.
The Best Tools for Startups
Equipped with the right apps and tools, your startup can stay organized and on track to meet business goals. These free and low-cost apps are a great way to leverage resources, without using up all your budget. Looking for apps to support your technical teams? Check out these must-have no-code tools for developers.
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