Why do so many founders build things no one wants? Because they begin by trying to think of startup ideas. – Paul Graham, Ycombinator
Picks and Axes
In his list of startup ideas for Ycombinator applicants, one category in particular drew my attention – “Startups for Startups”. The reason for its popularity is simple: a good startup idea, is one where the founders have knowledge of the problem, maybe they have experienced it themselves. To survive, the startup needs to find its early evangelists, users who are experiencing the problem and willing to try out a new solution. Big companies are slow movers, and unlikely to take the risk on an unknown startup in MVP stage, but other startups are a perfect fit – they have high appetite for risk and no money to spend on the established (and often expensive) enterprise solutions. Startups for Startups also often help each other (for example, Buffer includes links for sharing on the private, paid social network app.net, early users of enterprise software are often beta testers and get their feature wishes into the product, etc).
Though this category of startups is making some people “sick” already, those that crack the formula are able to grow quickly. Examples are many: Heroku, Dropbox and Stripe are just three of them – all Ycombinator alumni. After all, the people who sold the picks and axes made the most money during the Gold Rush, not the gold diggers.
Startups for Startups – Wheat vs Chaff
Vendorstack, a reviews and Q&A platform on enterprise vendors for startups and mid-market companies, released an interesting infographic on the top software vendors for startups. The infographic is a result of over 100 interviews with startup founders in various sizes, from consumer Internet to Medtech.
Navigating the maze of B2B enterprise software with its range of prices and quality, can be quite a challenge for a small organization. This is not a perfect list, but it’s a good approximation of what startup founders find useful. (text form list below)
The top 50 enterprise software providers used by startups (sorted by category and then alphabetically)
BUSINESS & LEGAL
IT OPERATIONS & DEVELOPMENT
- Amazon Web Services
- Pivotal Tracker
- Urban Airship
- Google Apps for Business
SALES & MARKETING
- Google Analytics
- Salesforce CRM
- Survey Monkey
Startup Tools Lists Galore
It’s worth mentioning that there are very thorough startup lists out there. The most comprehensive by far, is Steve Blank’s Tools and Blogs for Entrepreneurs, which not only has a full breadth and depth of tools, but also links to startup tool lists put by others. I would have loved to see the list to VC Cafe’s startup Resources page, but Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Lists of Startup Tools and Resources:
- Steve Blank’s Tools and Blogs for Entrepreneurs (the best!)
- VC Cafe Startup Resources (updated Dec 2012, includes lost of tools from the lists below)
- HBS Startup Tribe Tools List – from Tom Eisenmann at HBS
- NYU Startup Resources Library
- PBworks startup tools List
- Startup Weekend tools list
- Y Combinator Startup Library
- Startup Foundry tools list
- Small Business tools list
- Market research list
- Software Advice
What about the bigger platforms?
While we’re on the topic of tools powering startups, I stumbled across this interesting infographic on The Next Web, detailing the platforms powering the Internet, based on a year of data from website buying-and-selling marketplace, Flippa.com. It reveals an interesting story on the leading platforms for that are in demand (i.e. being bought) and in supply (i.e. being sold) in 2012, across various categories: eCommerce, CMS, Forums, and custom built sites/frameworks.
According to this data, the “Kings” of the Internet are Shopify and Magento, WordPress, vBulletin and PHP.
It’s easy to spend hours researching all these options, but then it turns from being a time-saver to being a time-waster. Apart from the decision on “what platform should I build my startup on” early on, many of these other software vendors are replaceable and nothing is irreversible. You can get some inspiration from these productivity hacks by startup CEOs on Quora. Happy building!
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