100 tools to launch & grow your start-up without web developer, without graphic designer and (almost) without money

My name is Maxime Blondel (Blondy). I’m the CEO & co-founder of The Secret Company, a studio building scalable, remote, self-funded companies. Today, I want to share with you this articles: 100 tools that can change your life.

⚠️ this article is regularly updated with new tools I discover and the best one recommended in the comments ⚠️

➡️ Ctrl+F to find what you’re looking for 😉

No equipment. No money. No help. Only you and your motivation / ambition / resilience.

Well, okay, the title is a little rough, but finish reading and you will see it was not bullshit.

As a guarantee of transparency, let me introduce myself:

My name is Maxime Blondel, I am 22 and I live in the suburb of Paris. Like many people of my age, the thing that motivates me most in life? Projects with friends! I used to be President of the student association of my University Institute of Technology for 1 year. Following this amazing experience, I saw a market opportunity and launched a niche website called AnimationEvenement.com, a marketplace that allows any event organizer to find a group of Brazilian dancers, a roller coaster simulator in virtual reality, a cotton candy culinary stand and +500 animations on demand anywhere in France. Bachelor’s degree in Digital Marketing acquired, I decided to stop my studies to discover entrepreneurship for 2 years. With 3 friends, we launched a start-up (The Young Economy — “The ideal promotional tool for young talents”), finally crashed after 11 months. On october 2017, I joined Le Wagon (Paris), an intensive 9-week coding bootcamp. Those were 2 incredible months! I’m now developing AnimationEvenement.com and duplicating its model in 3 complementary marketplaces :

During those years, by dint of discussing these projects, entrepreneurship and start-ups with my loved ones, I realized there was a huge gap between the reality and their vision of all that.

COME ON, LET’S REVEAL SOME SECRETS:

  1. The associative campaigns? We were told we partly won thanks to our super communication. None of us mastered Photoshop.
  2. AnimationEvenement.com, UneSalleAParis.com, Traiteurs-Parisiens.com & 1001FoodTrucks.com ? Developed and launched without writing one line of code.
  3. The Young Economy : “Wahou, you created a company at 20? And lawyers? And accounting?”. My answer : GOOGLE.
Screenshot of one of my Google Chrome “favorites” folder

These things said, let’s come to the facts. What’s following is the result of 7 years of monitoring: blogs articles of entrepreneurs/investors, meetups of accelerators/incubators, discussions on private facebook/slack communities, listings by tech journalists, Product Hunt’s rankings… All these tools were scattered across the Internet. I found it useful to favorise them on my Google Chrome navigator to keep track on. They will help you create, launch and grow what the industry calls a “Minimum Viable Product”: a first hyper-simplistic version of your product’s idea which goal is to validate your hypothesis (and its economic viability). Some are more sharp and often freemium. Today, I hope the greatest number will benefit from reading this:

BEAUTY TOOLS (design, photos, videos…)

PROTOTYPING TOOLS

SHOWCASE WEBSITE / LANDING PAGE TOOLS

E-COMMERCE WEBSITE TOOLS

  • Squarespace or Shogun are the best way to launch an e-commerce website in 24 hours. Shopify is a more complex but more complete option. If you are a restaurant owner, my friends from Innovorder are the best to help you on this subject.
  • Easily import dropshipped products directly into your e-commerce store, from AliExpress or any other marketplace: Oberlo
  • Some cool suppliers to choose and customize your product’s packaging before shipping : Centurybox, Georgette Packaging, Pakible, Packitoo, Origami Studio, Raja Packhelp, PackHelp or Scie Emb
  • For those who do not want to worry about packing and delivery : Cubyn (EU) or Wing (US)
  • Need help to build your prototype ? Packaged, transparent, fairly priced offers: PACKMAN
  • Easily sell custom clothes and items: Printful, Pwinty & Panopli
  • Need a payment system? Don’t search. Stripe is THE ONE. Selz is an option.
  • Royalty free music stock: UseMySound
  • A CMS that offers a beautiful user login & (one time or recurring) payments for modern web applications: Memberstack (also MemberSpace)
  • Don’t let shitty ads lower your conversions: GetAds
  • Find the best instagram & snapchat influencers for e-commerce and spy on your competitors’ product placements: Influspy
  • The best way to easily buy and manage domain names: Nuage
  • Accept payments really simply and quickly: Payfacile (Fr) or PaySimple (worldwide)
  • A subscription model (example : you’re building a Box business)? Chargebee, Ziqy or GoCardless
  • A modern logistic service: Bigblue
  • A great CMS to launch your paying online video training: Thinkific
  • Get inspired by seeing Facebook Ads from the top 30,000 Shopify stores: NiceAds
  • The best agency to manage your email marketing & SMS marketing campaigns as an e-merchant: RAGNAR Email
  • Use creative AI to generate ads that get results: pencil
  • A bank of creative social media ads: The Ad Creative Bank
  • Automated tax-compliance and billing for digital businesses: Octobat
  • Imagine your website has a search engine as efficient as Google’s one? Algolia (and they are French !!!)
  • A curation of the most beautiful commerce experiences on Shopify: Commerce Cream
  • Reassure your visitors with reviews: Avis Vérifiées (FR) and Trustpilot (worldwide)
  • manage and analyze your local delivery operations: Onfleet
  • Automate Ads banner production: Abyssale
  • Manage payment frauds: SELL Secure
  • A great online video training + a 100% Google-SEO optimized CMS (website creator) to build your SEO satellite website: SEO Secret
  • Estimate a price for web development: How Much Does A Website Cost

SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS (content, reach, automation..)

  • The best social media robot to grow your number of Instagram followers, Twitter followers or automate prospecting on Linkedin: My Name is BOND
  • Facebook Groups analytics and management: Grytics
  • Posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin & Google+ takes a lot of time, right? Buffer.com. EverGreenFeed, Jarvee, Quuu and Postify are alternatives.
  • BuzzSumo is THE tool if you want to analyze what content performs best for any topic or competitor. (You can also find key influencers to promote your content)
  • Display social media feeds, photo galleries and reviews on any website. Boost trust and sale more: EmbedSocial
  • You have a content strategy and need to drive more traffic to your website? Betashare.co or snip.ly
  • Don’t let shitty ads lower your conversions: GetAds
  • Manage multiple social accounts, schedules posts, create reportings, etc: Agorapulse
  • Find the best instagram & snapchat influencers for e-commerce and spy on your competitors’ product placements: Influspy
  • Need to share beautiful images with citations? Pablo by Buffer or Recite
  • Find the right hashtags and influencers: Stargazer, IQ tags and Follower Wonk.
  • Use creative AI to generate ads that get results: pencil
  • A bank of creative social media ads: The Ad Creative Bank
  • Automate posts and actions (like, follow…): IFTTT, Followr, Crowdfire and Pegasio
  • Automate Ads banner production: Abyssale
  • Stop wasting money with bad targeted Facebook Ads. Use their own bad-known tool: Facebook Ads Manager
  • Want to make a noticeable launch for your product/ communication campaign? Thunderclap is an hybrid concept, between crowdfunding and social ad.
  • Automated viral Instagram growth: InstaVast, Stim social, InstaGrowth Ninja or Instazood
  • Royalty free music stock: UseMySound
  • Create infographics, reports and maps in minute: Infogram
  • if you need to frictionless collect email addresses (in a Medium blog post for example): Upscribe

EMAILING TOOLS (best practices, find contacts…)

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOLS (communicate, brainstorm, organize…)

SALES TOOLS (search, organize, & close deals…)

MOBILE APP TOOLS (build, optimize, grow…)

LEGAL, ADMINISTRATIVE, FINANCIAL & OFFICE TOOLS

(for french people mostly)

ANALYTICS, CUSTOMER DATA & BEHAVIOR TOOLS

GROWTH TOOLS (automation, web scrapping…)

PRESS & MEDIA TOOLS

  • Find a journalist’s email adress: Hey Press, Babbler, Email Hunter, Norbert, Name2email, Snovio, GetEmail.io, pipl, ProspectBird, AnyLeads
  • Be at the bottom of top media’s articles, like suggested articles: OutBrain + Taboola
  • An algorithm that identifies articles from 30,000 active journalists to target those who might talk about you : AlgoLinked
  • Find the best instagram & snapchat influencers for e-commerce and spy on your competitors’ product placements: Influspy
  • Promote your content to influencers. Have real people share your blogs, videos, podcasts and infographics on social media. Get hundreds of shares, mentions and clicks to your content : Quuu Promote
  • Send your press releases to reporters: PR Newswire, Help A Reporter, PromoteHour and submit.co
  • Create your own Google SEO web media that will become your Lead Generation Machine: SEO Secret
  • PS : nothing better than an Excel to keep in stock the contacts of all journalists you come across 😉

Hope you found your happiness!

As a conclusion, here are the 3 best tips I can give you, based on the mistakes I made by the past:

  1. If you want to launch a start-up, resonate more in terms of “project”. First and foremost, launch business projects that aimed at solving problems of potential customers 💰
  2. Get started as quickly as possible, whether or not you have “the idea” or “the associates”. The idea will change along the way, and along the way you will probably meet the right people, I assure you. So the sooner you have met your potential customers, the faster you will fail, to succeed perhaps later.
  3. Set yourself very short-term goals. Do not make the mistake of “we will develop our prototype, hidden in our incubator for the next 6 months and then we will launch it”. Prefer “here is the landing page of our product presentation. If we managed to harvest 500 email addresses or to charge 10 customers within 1 week, we will continue for two more weeks’’. And so on.

Note: I am not paid by any of the companies I am mentioning here. Also, I do not guarantee the exhaustiveness of the tools listed. New ones appear every day, and the specificity of your project will likely require additional resources. Besides, I invite you to comment alternatives or to mention some essentials that I would have forgotten.

PEACE & LOVE 💖

(And many thanks to Arthur Mazurel who corrected my broken English ❤)

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CEO & Co-founder @ TheSecretCompany.co 🗝️ // Otherwise: 🪂🎸🤹📝🐙🍷🥩

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