Just launched a startup? Chances are you are on a very tight budget, counting every penny, bootstrapping anything and everthing you can and reading every ‘frugal’ column and blog post you can find. Here’s a big list of bootstrapping resources that can save a ton of cash for pretty much any startup.
1. Bitrix24.com - Free CRM, planner, project manager, document sharing (limited to 12 employees)
2. PickyDomains.com - Pay per result naming service, $50 for domain/name/product line, slogan.
3. Reddit/Freebies - Community moderated daily updated freebies list.
4. AppSumo.com - Groupon clone for buying enterprise software.
5. JetRadar.com - Low airfare meta searchengine (searches through 700+ airlines to find best deals normally available through direct purchase on airline sites only).
6. SideJobTrack.com - Free invoicing.
7. MoneyBookers.Com (Skrill) - PayPal alternative, cheap way to accept online payments/credit cards (25 cents + 3%, please refer to site for exact details)
8. Kodesk.com - Office sharing. You can both buy and sell extra office space, including by the hour.
9. PRLog.com - Free press-release distribution.
10. InternMatch.com - Own slaves legally.
11. RetailMeNot.Com - Discount coupons, business section available.
12. OpenOffice.Org - Free MS Office alternative.
13. WaveAccounting.com - Free online accounting SaaS
14. SysAid.com - Free helpdesk software. ZenDesk.com is worth paying for.
15. CouchSurfing.com - Yes, I do want to let complete stranges sleep in my house for free (so I can do the same when I travel).
16. SubmitYourStartup.Com - Partly outdated list of sites that accept startup submissions.
17. Vator.Tv - Social network for startups
18. LowerMyBills.com - Loan/Insurance/Internet Provider/Phone Carries comparison service.
19. Score.Org - Free consulting from retired entrepreneurs (available in certain areas only).
20. Logaster.com - Free logos. Bad English gratis.
21. 99Designs.com - Cheaper alternative for design work. Designers hate the site, so it must be good.
22. MinuteBox.com - Hire doctor/lawyer/coffee enema expert - pay by the minute. Lots of experts, typical pay is around $2.50 a minute. Not sure, but thereâ€™s probably some sort of minimum required.
23. HelpAReporter.Com - Free publicity (pitch your business directly to journos working on certain stories).
24. AVG - Free antivirus.
25. Weebly.Com - Free website creator.
26. GotFreeFax.com - Send free fax online. Limited to 3 pages, US and Canada only.
27. RememberTheMilk.com - Free To-Do list, iPhone and Android support.
28. Zamzar.com - Free online file converter. Letâ€™s pass a law that mandates that only one extension (how does .file sound) is allowed!
29. Join.Me - Free webcast/webconference SaaS.
P.S. I have not included eBay, Skype, etc. since everybody knows about those. Did I miss something? Send me a message.
[Via - NicheGeek.com]
Site of the day - PickyDomains.com, world’s first risk free naming serviceÂ
Commuting on Florida’s highways often feels like bumper cars with Ferrari engines. So what would happen if those heavy-footed douches no longer faced the specter of speeding tickets?
Thanks to a couple of enterprising young entrepreneurs, we might just find out.
Indian River County’s Ian Sidles, age 25, and Dustin Boring, 30, incorporated Pre-Paid Auto Club in August. The company provides “speeding insurance.” Pay dues starting at $9.99 a month, and when you receive a moving violation, the club takes care of associated fines, traffic school costs, and legal fees.
It’s like the Hair Club for Men. Sidles and Boring are not only presidents of the firm, but they’d also make good clients. Sidles says epiphany struck when he was nailed for speeding twice in a week. He says he was wrongly accused of blasting his Dodge Charger past a police radar gun at 90 mph in a 70 mph zone. (Besides two speeding tickets in Vero Beach, Sidles’s driving record also includes operating a vehicle without a valid registration and not wearing a seat belt.) “I told Dustin: ‘Dude, there should be insurance for this kind of thing,’” says Sidles, an IT guy who declined to name his regular employer because they don’t know about his new business.
His partner, Boring, is also the founder of iLoveDrinks.com, LLC, according to state corporation records.
Their speeding-insurance business model works like this: “Basic” members are allowed to submit claims every 60 days, there’s no limit for “premium” members, and the company won’t reimburse tickets for zooming more than 19 mph over the limit or violations in a school zone. “We don’t want to encourage bad driving,” Sidles explains. “But people make mistakes. We just want to take some of the burden off of drivers.”
When we talked to Sidles last week, he told us the firm only recently began operating and has just two members. But the novel concept has many more fans â€” 1,774 on Facebook, to be exact.
Don’t count former Florida Highway Patrol spokesman and trooper Pat Santangelo among them. One thing the Pre-Paid Auto Club can’t do anything about: expensive points on a driver’s record. “Unless they’re taking care of those points, you’re wasting your money,” Santangelo, who’s now a spokesman for Miami Mayor TomĂˇs Regalado, grumbles when told of the concept. “Nice try, though.”
[Via - MiamiNewTimes.com]
Site of the day - PickyDomains.com, world’s first risk free naming serviceÂ
Mike Ash, who had worked in restaurants since he was 15 and earned a degree in hospitality management, hoped to one day open his own eatery. But as the years went on and he managed various restaurants and cafeterias, Ash, now 35, figured he was unlikely to ever save enough money to open his own place.
Then, flipping through a Costco circular in 2010, he saw an ad for the BikeCaffe, a British franchise concept that had recently come to the U.S. The idea was as simple as the name–a mobile coffee shop mounted on a four-wheel cycle, complete with Astoria espresso machine, blender, pastry bin, refrigerator and sink.
Ash signed on as one of the first U.S. franchisees and began fueling up downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. Today you can find him on the corner of Fourth Street and Central Avenue–or sometimes, especially if it’s extra hot or rainy, inside the BB&T bank building. On weekends Ash sets up his mobile java machine at festivals and events.
Eventually, Ash hopes to step back from the grinder. “I would love to own multiple carts and spend my time marketing them,” he says. “But until then, I still enjoy it. It’s a pretty awesome job.”
He filled us in on what it’s like to be the go-to guy for to-go coffee in downtown St. Pete.
Coffee from a bike?
That can’t be very good. The coffee is really, really good! It’s all fair-trade organic tea and coffee, and I think we’re the only place in downtown St. Pete that carries that. The biggest comment I get is, “You can’t make all that stuff on your bike, can you?” Our menu is the same size as Starbucks’; we can make macchiatos, lattes, chai–everything. We also make smoothies.
All the drinks are made to order. It’s a little slower than pouring drip coffee, but the quality is 10 times better.
How do you like making your own schedule?
It’s kind of weird to start a business thinking you can work your own hours. But you end up working the same number of hours as before, usually more. At the same time, it’s kind of cool that it’s yours, and what you put into it, you get out of it. I’m always working. I get here at 6:20 a.m. to set up and leave around 4:30 p.m. I also work weekends, so at least 50 hours a week. In 16 months, I’ve missed only three days.
What’s your biggest seller?
Lattes are always popular. People also like my seasonal drinks. I have a chalkboard and carry three or four specials per day. I usually create them myself, things like eggnog lattes, mocha peppermint hot chocolate or caramel toffee nut lattes. We have a lot of freedom to experiment.
Do you get a good workout riding the bike?
Well, the thing weighs about 400 pounds. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden it more than half a mile at a time. It’s geared super low, so if there are no hills or rough terrain, it’s easy. You wouldn’t win any races on it. Florida is pretty flat, so I’m lucky with that.
What’s the biggest misconception about your BikeCaffe?
People assume I sell hot dogs. Every day someone comes up asking for one.
[Via - Entrepreneur.com]
Site of the day - PickyDomains.com, world’s first risk free naming agency
Paul Ford writes eloquently in this weekâ€™s Bloomberg Businessweek on the rise of Bitcoin, the â€śmedia-friendly, anarchist crypto-currencyâ€ť whose value jumped as the European financial crisis landed on the doorstep of Cyprusâ€™s banking system.
For the unfamiliar, Bitcoin is a form of virtual cash thatâ€™s made secure by complex computations (thatâ€™s the crypto part) and isnâ€™t backed by any government (the anarchistic aspect). To Ford, Bitcoin is an â€śexcellent indicator of anxiety,â€ť often most popular with those whoâ€™ve lost trust in the worldâ€™s monetary institutions.
But the virtual currency may have another thing going for it: practicality. Yes, Bitcoin can be difficult to wrap your head around, and itâ€™s not the best solution for buying a quart of milk. But for fast, no-fee money transfers, it canâ€™t be beat.
Thatâ€™s the point recently made by Expensify, a four-year-old company that creates expense reports for more than 200,000 small- and medium-sized businesses and that Wednesday began offering Bitcoin to lower costs of international transactions.
Expensify hopes Bitcoin will help businesses deal with a common problem: banking regulations that make direct payments impractical for companies reimbursing workers in foreign countries. Tony Vakula, Expensifyâ€™s vice president of core engineering, says Expensify customers have typically used PayPal (EBAY) for international transactions, but the processing fees commonly stirred complaints.
Enter Bitcoin, which can be transferred instantaneously, at no charge, among accounts all over the world. Itâ€™s far too soon to say whether Bitcoin will prove popular with Expensifyâ€™s customersâ€”or even how many of Expensifyâ€™s customers will know what Bitcoin is. At the moment, Bitcoin might not be accepted widely enough to support a population of workers who want to be paid in virtual currencyâ€”even if it saves them a fee.
Still, itâ€™s noteworthy that the currency is finding relevance beyond Internet subcultures as a way to better serve Main Street. â€śWeâ€™re basically trying to help solve a business problem with it,â€ť says Vakula.
[Via - BusinessWeek.Com]
If you havenâ€™t heard of crowdsourcing yet, seriously, Iâ€™d think youâ€™ve wasted your time living under a rock. Okay, so maybe that was harsh. Let me back down a bit here. Crowdsourcing, if you honestly donâ€™t know and are not pulling my leg, is the process of involving a crowd (Internet users) to complete certain tasks. Thatâ€™s talking PickyDomains for naming, 99designs for designing or IdeaBounty for ideas pitched to corporations (and hey, they pay top dollar for the winning ideas). There are a lot more out there. Yes, a LOT.
One startup that has been in the crowdsourcing space since 2009 is Chaordix. Chaordix uses the power of the crowd for market research and insights it provides to its clientele, which include powerhouse brands like Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, Reckitt Benckiser and IBM. These brands use Chaordixâ€™s Market Intelligence Platform to connect and engage with customers, build brand loyalty and innovation and drive market research.
Shelley Kuipers, Chaordixâ€™s founder and CEO, narrates that Chaordix was spun out of a previous startup, Cambrian House. Shelley, along with her colleagues at Cambrian House, has seen the traditional way of doing things â€“ broadcast advertising, focus groups, etc. â€“ and asserts that participation is now the new brand experience. Customers love to participate, so that if youâ€™re a brand and you lack an engaging and lively forum that customers can participate in, youâ€™re most definitely lagging behind.
In 2009, Shelley and her team entered the crowdsourcing market a little too early. The business model generated a lot of interest, but instead of doing transactions, for the first 12 to 18 months, they were educating the market. At the moment, they are in the early adopters phase and have come to a point where the masses are finding them without any advertising.
When asked which was more difficult, to attract top talent or to raise capital, Shelley answered by saying she was fortunate to have attracted the right people and was more successful with that over raising capital. While the road to becoming investment grade had been challenging, it was a rewarding experience.
Chaordix has recently secured $1.5 million in Series A venture capital funding spearheaded by Yaletown Venture Partners and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Chaordix also has secured a partnership with KPMG UK on a new product that will be available online and via mobile.
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