Starting a business is hard, especially when you don't have the right tools. But how do you knows which tools are the best to use?

Ask someone smart, efficient, and experienced--like Rob Fitzpatrick, a serial entrepreneur, author of a great book on how to talk to customers, and a partner at Founder Centric, designers and teachers of top-tier startup education.

Rob put together a brain dump of tools he frequently turns to for his projects. Some are more obvious, others fairly unusual, but each can be extremely useful for startups:

Talking to Customers

  • Intercom--tasteful chat and help widgets for your site, plus good automated email triggers
  • Drip--email courses and signup widgets for your site
  • Mailchimp--newsletters and decent signup widgets
  • Buffer--easier way to run your twitter and facebook accounts

Team collaboration

  • Slack--chat and messaging to reduce internal email load, with one room per major project
  • Github--repository for your source code plus task lists and collaboration with your developers
  • Dropbox--all company files should be here, not on email attachments or personal folders
  • Streak--simple CRM plugin for Gmail to manage and share your sales leads
  • Trello--digital kanban board for project management
  • Basecamp--I use it for project management with external teams who don't know our Trello workflow
  • Stormboard--digital sticky notes for remote brainstorming and workshops
  • Meldium--team password sharing and management



  • Square (US) or iZettle (elsewhere)--accept credit card payments with your phone, e.g. for market stalls and contractors
  • Stripe--best payment processing online
  • GoCardless (UK)--accept direct debit payments
  • Gumroad--easily sell digital files like PDFs, videos, and links


  • Google Analytics--free and good enough for all your analytics needs
  • Google Keyword Planner--see how many people are searching relevant terms
  • Facebook Ads--use the targeting options to compare the approximate size and location of various interests and demographics

Physical Products and Print-on-Demand

  • Createspace--upload a PDF, sell a printed book via Amazon
  • Newspaper Club--ever wanted your own newspaper?
  • The Game Crafter--prototype and sell your board and card games
  • Shapeways--high quality 3d printing in a wide range of materials including gold and silver (for jewelry) and ceramics (for household goods); great for prototyping and market-testing physical products
  • Alibaba--cut out the middle man and buy anything you want directly from the manufacturer; if you've ever wanted a 40' shipping container full of go karts, this is the place for you

Building Websites

  • Squarespace--visual site builder with good themes and integrations with stores, payments, newsletters, etc
  • Strikingly--easy site builder for nice single-page sites like manifestos, personal/company pages, or landing pages
  • Shopify--for ecommerce and online stores
  • Themeforest--if you need something custom, start by buying a $30 theme and editing it



  • Fiverr--pay $5 (or a bit more) for tasks ranging from logo design to copywriting
  • 99designs--crowdsource design tasks (especially logos) for a few hundred dollars
  • elance--various freelancers (assume you'll hire several for trial projects before finding good ones)
  • advice from various startup specialists
  • Dribbble--browse designer portfolios, many of whom also freelance


  • TextIt--create SMS applications without programming (e.g. for the developing world)
  • Twilio--makes phone calls and SMS as easy to program as websites


  • Docracy--open source legal documents
  • Companies Made Simple (UK)--set up and manage a UK corporation for 19
  • Duedil (UK)--nice interface over companies house interface to research industry and competitors




  • f6s--listing of all accelerator programs (and lots of other info) and a social network for startups and angels
  • AngelList--social network and funding platform for startups and angels
  • Capitallist--like Angellist, but focused on London and the UK
  • The Funded--reviews and testimonials of investors from the founders' perspective; do your investor due diligence here


  • Crowdcube (UK)--equity crowd funding
  • Seedrs (UK)--equity crowd funding
  • Kickstarter--crowd-fund via pre-selling your products
  • Indiegogo--crowd-fund via donations with a focus on arts and creative projects, including some which aren't allowed on KickStarter