10 tools to kickstart your startup journey

Imagine that you are a CEO running a startup. You are busy building a product that solves a real problem for customers while pitching to investors, and trying to build the right team, get the right structures and processes in place, and find the right tools to work with. Entrepreneurs have 99 problems but picking the right tools to build their dream product shouldn’t be one of them.

To build effective and impactful teams and products, startup founders need to leverage tools in order to streamline their processes and make integrations easier. There are an abundance of these tools in the market today, covering everything from ideation, design, marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), fundraising, data, and so much more. Choosing which tools to utilize is not an easy decision for new entrepreneurs. This becomes even more complex when time and resources are crunched, not leaving room for extensive testing with different options.

As part of Catalyst Fund, we offer flexible capital and tailored venture-building support to our companies, and recognize the nuanced and often complex needs of our founders. To ease the tool selection process for our startups, we introduced Catalyst Fund Perks which offers a suite of tools across different disciplines. We have built affiliations with organizations whose tools our own team actively uses and experiments with, which allows us to also help the startup teams quickly implement and integrate these within their own systems.  

"Building a tech startup is like building a house. You don’t spend time manufacturing bricks, instead you buy them and use them to build the walls. More often than not, we see startups manufacturing bricks. With the wide range of tools that startups today can take advantage of, we ask our startups to not spend time and money building parts of their solutions that aren’t core to their businesses," says Javi Linares, Senior Venture Builder in our Catalyst Fund team.

Here are 10 tools for startups to consider:

  1. Notion | Project workspace – A user-friendly project management and note taking software product. Notion is a powerful tool for both personal and professional use cases. The software enables both individuals and businesses to keep track of their tasks, capture notes in a centralized location, and it eases project management processes.
  2. Miro | Remote collaboration – An online visual collaboration whiteboard tool. In March 2020, due to the pandemic, our own Catalyst Fund program had to shift from in-person engagements to remote acceleration. In our search for a remote collaboration tool which would make our increasing number of Zoom calls effective, we started working with Miro which helped us mirror our in-person brainstorming sessions and enabled us to work with startups in real-time.
  3. Twilio | Customer communication  – A programmable customer engagement tool. Twilio helps to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and perform other communication functions using its web service APIs.
  4. Freshworks | Marketing automation – Provides a software as a service (SaaS) platform that enables small and medium-sized businesses to support customers and employees with multi-channel support, including a CRM platform, livechat support, marketing automation, amongst others.
  5. AWS (Amazon Web Services) | Cloud services –  A comprehensive, evolving cloud computing platform provided by Amazon that includes a mixture of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and packaged SaaS offerings. AWS services can offer organizations tools such as computing power, database storage and content delivery services.

  1. HubSpot | CRM – An inbound marketing and sales platform that allows businesses to attract new website visitors, convert leads, and convert visitors to customers. It is an all in one platform that allows companies to market and sell their products effectively. For example, through the HubSpot CRM feature, a company’s marketing, sales and customer service departments can easily have access to customer contacts and keep track of customer conversations. Additionally, HubSpot offers a marketing hub, sales hub, service hub and growth hub, which seamlessly integrate with the CRM, enabling companies to create streamlined processes.
  1. DigitalOcean | Dev services – An IaaS platform. You can use Digital Ocean to host your web applications in the cloud.
  1. MongoDB | Dev services – A document database used to build highly available and scalable internet applications. With their flexible schema approach, they are popular with development teams using agile methodologies. Offering drivers for all major programming languages, MongoDB allows teams to immediately start building their application without spending time configuring a database.

9. SmileID | KYC verification – By combining Government identification validation with proprietary face verification software, Smile Identity offers Africa’s most advanced digital know your customer (KYC) solution, enabling entrepreneurs and institutions to pursue rapid Pan-African growth with confidence.

"It is so powerful for startups to collaborate with other startups, especially in the African tech ecosystem where partnerships are solidifying the underlying tech infrastructure. We are doubly thrilled to see our own alumni stepping in to support new cohorts of Catalyst Fund startups. SmileID, who was part of our earlier cohorts, has now built relationships with a number of recent graduates, and is also more widely enabling early-stage fintech startups scale their go-to-market strategies," says Rasima Swarup, our Portfolio Engagement Manager.

  1. Mixpanel | Analytics – Helps companies measure what matters, make decisions fast, and build better products through data. With their powerful, self-serve product analytics solution, teams can easily analyze how and why people engage, convert, and retain—in real-time, across devices—to improve their user experience.

We are proud to be able to offer this growing list of tools as Catalyst Fund Perks alongside our bespoke venture building support. We’ve tested these tools along with our portfolio companies, but know that not every tool will work for every startup, and there are even more needs and use cases we want to be able to support.

Do you use another tool which we’ve missed out? Or are you building a tool that you’d like to offer our startups as a Catalyst Fund partner? We’d love to hear from you. Write to us: hello@thecatalystfund.com

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