I’d tell software startups to avoid getting a marketing automation platform until you absolutely need it. This is an expensive mistake that we made. The vision of this integrated system for all of your marketing efforts is enticing, but the odds that you’ll get a big ROI out of it early on is pretty low. I can see how it would make sense for a small, non-technical business that doesn’t understand marketing at all, but it doesn’t make sense for startups. Instead, I’d recommend cobbling together products like Unbounce, MailChimp and Google Analytics. Once you feel like that system is falling over because it doesn’t meet your needs, then switch to a platform solution.
Co-founder - BuzzStream
Lead Dyno is horrible. I would not recommend them at all. We use them to manage affiliate relationships, and we’re only using them until we have the developer bandwidth to get rid of it!
CEO & Co-founder - Plum Print
Bluehost was hard to use. We figured it out, but it was not easy. I would not recommend using any email provider other than Google. Always use Gmail if you can, rather than setting up another email service.
Co-founder - GoKid
HubSpot and Salesforce. It’s mind-blowing the incredible time it takes to implement these. You have to have the time and resources for both, and most entrepreneurs don’t have either.
CEO & Founder - DK New Media
Nothing comes to mind. If I don’t like something, it’s usually because it doesn’t work for our particular use case.
Founder & CEO - Nomad Financial
SugarCRM was a disaster for us, and we had a bad experience with ShoreTel.
Co-founder & President - Work Market
I used several companies that offered analysis, charting and invoicing, and found their services to be poor quality and inaccurate. I'd leave these categories to an app or in-house person to choose.
Director of Operations - Inxent, Inc.
QuickBooks. The UX of their online service is overall confusing and not friendly to use.
COO, Developer - Lightmatter
Don’t use Confluence unless you like pain. Also, we had been using Skype since the early days of ReadWrite, but it started to fail technically. You’d miss messages for an hour, and then get them all in a burst; you just can’t function that way. And Skype Mobile would burn through your cell phone battery. Sometimes tools just stop working, or stop being effective, so you have to move on to something else.
Editorial Director & Editor-in-Chief - ReadWrite
I would just say it depends on what you're building. Stay away from cheap hosting - downtime sucks. Think about scalability. Look for plug-and-play solutions.
Founder - Jurnid
Looker. For someone who doesn’t know much about technology, it would have been easy to sign on with them and not realize they need a dedicated developer to manage it. It took a good hour with the Looker team for them to admit that that's the case. I would also not recommend Asana--it’s very hard to look at/track to-do lists, and it has a horrible user experience with folders and projects.
Founder & CEO - Nine Naturals
QuickBooks was an absolute disaster for us. For an early-stage company, there's such a thing as information overload--there are so many things that are priorities that you want to spend as little time thinking about the administrative tasks. With QuickBooks, I probably could have figured it out, but I had to spend too much time figuring out how to make it work. ZenPayroll, in contrast, takes all of the administrative burden away, and make it so I don’t have to do any thinking at all about payroll.
Co-founder - Point
Founder & CEO - Knozen
QuickMVP. It’s a good service--you do some early user testing, and they help you buy Google ads so you can see if it seems like something consumers are interested in. But we cancelled our membership and they wouldn’t give us our money back.
CEO & Chief People Person - Founders Bloc
Fiksu--we had a bad experience with them. We replaced them with Ampush. It's going to be highly competitive to stay on top of this growing market.
Co-founder - Jump Ramp Games
No, but it's definitely worth evaluating CRM tools before picking. If you switch down the line, you'll never get your data out in a meaningful way, so it's better to choose the correct tool upfront.
CEO - DeansList
We find Microsoft Visio to be annoying, and don’t use Photoshop for graphic design--you will need vector graphics.
CEO & Co-founder - SideProjects
Initially, we were using an open-source version of SugarCRM. There are many versions of this available now, but we were using an older, free, open-source version of it. It had a very outdated UI and a lot of dependencies based on you entering phone/fax/other outdated modes of doing business. We've since moved to a cloud-based CRM called Pipedrive, which is much better.
CEO - TreSensa
I don’t love Google Drive, though we do use it. I dislike Google spreadsheets just because the Excel shortcuts I’ve grown up on don't always work. As a former banker, it's maddening.
Co-founder & CEO - Care+Wear
1%Stacklist Startups Are Using Are there any tools that you would absolutely NOT recommend to an entrepreneur?