Nine Apps that are Free and Essential for Early-stage Startups
If you’ve just started your own company or are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, the currently downward trending economic climate is probably top of mind. Established Unicorns are laying off employees or placing hiring freezes to extend their runway and on the venture capital side, wallets are tightening and fundraising prospects are becoming few and far between. While it’s too soon to definitively tell if we’re heading towards a recession, it’s a smart move to keep your costs low and budgets in check.
But this doesn’t mean you should slow down or pause your plans because there are a number of ways to continue to build your MVP and gain customers without spending money. Here are nine free and helpful apps that can help your startup scale for free:
- Sentry, Rollbar, and Datadog
For infrastructure reporting and analytics, there are a number of tools available for free such as Sentry’s and Rollbar’s $0 plans and Datadog’s startup offer. These tools will monitor your app or frontend and alert you when errors appear.
Authentication and authorization protect your website and product like a bouncer would at a club, but building a secure auth system with comprehensive features can be a significant task for small dev teams. When thinking about how to best support fellow founders, I wanted to offer a service that would allow their startups to implement their B2B auth quickly and without any worries. PropelAuth’s “Free until Funded” plan provides our Growth tier to qualified startups without any blocked features or a set time limit. Now more than ever, there’s no guarantee founders will complete fundraising within a year, so we made our auth available until startups secure their first $1M—however long that takes.
Even if your employee count is in the single digits, you’re going to need a quick, secure, and efficient way to communicate with one another. Slack’s Free tier includes 5GB of storage, 10 integrations, as well as standard support. As an added bonus, you can join Slack workspaces for guidance and feedback on your product. Some examples are #Launch for finding co-founders and #Devchat, #Node.js, and #WordPress for field-specific topics.
For your cloud computing platform needs, AWS is the world’s largest provider and provides a reliable, flexible, and scalable product. They incentivize startups by providing new founders with $1,000-$100,000 in AWS credits through their Activate program, with the final amount depends on whether you’re bootstrapped, self-funded, or venture-funded.
There’s a number of moving parts as an entrepreneur and having a project management tool to help you juggle priorities will be invaluable. Jira, Trello, and Asana are all valid options, but as a developer, Linear (including its expansive free plan) edges them out based on its nicer UI and faster performance.
Automating as many processes as possible is pivotal when your team is small as manually updating apps wastes valuable time. Developed for engineers in mind, Pipedream enables users to create workflows with open source connectors to APIs and extensions. The free Developer plan allows for up to 10,000 ‘invocations’, or automations, a month from an unlimited number of workflows across an unlimited number of apps and events. Open source and startups can contact Pipedream for further trials or discounts.
One piece of advice Y Combinator recommends to every founder is to utilize their network and speak to as many people as possible for product fit, advice, and support. As the largest professional social media platform, creating a LinkedIn business page is free and the search function is a great resource to quickly find people that fit your specific niche.
Knowledge is power—so understanding how your users are interacting with your website is vital. While Google Analytics is largely free for most companies, Amplitude is able to report better insights/customer data. Plus, Amplitude’s free baseline Starter plan provides basic analytics for 10M events per month, which is more than enough for a young business. Additionally, startups can apply for a scholarship to cover one year of Amplitude’s Growth plan. And if you’re a Black founder of an early stage startup, Amplitude offers their Growth plan for free in perpetuity to better support underrepresented communities in tech.
- Dev.to or Medium
Developing content is a great way to establish your company as a knowledgeable and trustworthy service. But even if you’re a master of SEO, posting on your blog alone likely won’t help you reach new audiences. Picking between online publishing platforms depends on who your target audience is and how each community responds to your content. While some people recommend posting to just one, both Medium and Dev.to have options to specify a canonical url to help direct SEO traffic to your site. It won’t hurt to share your content across all your platforms to see which option produces the most engagement.