Why do so many founders build things no one wants? Because they begin by trying to think of startup ideas. – Paul Graham, Ycombinator

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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, 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)

Enterprise Software vendors infographic

Top 50 software vendors for startups according to VendorStack

The top 50 enterprise software providers used by startups (sorted by category and then alphabetically)







  • Asana
  • Dropbox
  • Google Apps for Business
  • HelloFax
  • HipChat


  • Flurry
  • Google Analytics
  • KISSmetrics
  • LinkedIn
  • Magento
  • Mailchimp
  • Mixpanel
  • Olark
  • Optimizely
  • Salesforce CRM
  • Shopify
  • Survey Monkey
  • Tapjoy
  • UserVoice

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:

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, 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.

Infographic from thenextweb - what platforms are powering the internet based on inforgaphic – what platforms are powering the Internet (Originally posted on TheNextWeb)

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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Eze Vidra

Head of Google for Entrepreneurs Europe and Campus London at Google
Eze is the Head of Google for Entrepreneurs Europe and Campus London. In 2005, he started VC Cafe to shine a spotlight on startups and Venture Capital in Israel, and in 2012, Eze founded Techbikers, a non-for-profit that supports education through cycling challenges for techies.
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  • Tammie Childs

    One area my company tried to cut costs was with our conference bridge service. We used freeconferencecalling until one of our clients wondered out loud if they should be doing business with a company that still needed a free call service. We decided to look for a new service that would allow us to provide a professional conference experience for our clients. We settled on Branded Bridge Line ( primarily for their professional voice talent feature. We gave them a script and within a day our conference line had a professionally recorded welcome message and a looping promotion for when our clients were waiting on hold. Our client won’t admit that our conference service is a better one now, but the jokes have stopped. Makes me wonder how many other deals we pitched on our free conference bridge fell flat because we seemed less legitimate. Well worth the $15/month.

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