Growing Tech Start-Ups: 11 Challenges and 25 Productivity Tools To The Rescue

Taru BhargavaGrowth Marketing, Startups5 Comments

Growing Tech Start-Ups: 11 Challenges and 25 Productivity Tools To The Rescue

Being a part of a growing tech start-up means, being on your toes. In simplified terms, it requires your team to multi-task all the time. So at one point you may be coding and the next moment you may be busy creating content for your company blog.In a nutshell, the toes start to ache sooner or later.

Thankfully, we are blessed with tools that are efficient, effective and save a great deal of time. The only tricky bit here is picking the right tool for your start-up. Of course there are numerous lists that would give you this information; however we feel that the needs of a growing tech start-up are different and thus the required tools should be different too.

At AppVirality, we have been using a few of these tools, and that’s the idea behind this list. We have categorised this list basis the day-to-day challenges that we face as a growing start-up. So without much ado, here’s the treasure trove for you all.

Challenge 1- How To Find The E-Mail Id Of Clients/Influencer/Anyone Else?

You’ve got an awesome product, and you want to share the details with prospective clients through e-mails. Where do you begin? Most of us would start by either scouting the web or social media platforms, and when we get exhausted we start seeking assistance from conventional references. This may lead to some results, but is a time-consuming task, and in practicality no one has that kind of time in a growing start-up.

There are two tools that can help you with this problem.

A)    Rapportive

B)    FullContact

Not only do these tools simplify the process, but also display social information about the individual in the sidebar post installation. Full Contact on the other hand also provides company information of the chosen contact. These tools also help in personalising the e-mail since you already get to know a great deal about the person before you hit that send button.

Who Will Benefit From These Tools– Your sales team can use it for client acquisition while the marketing team can use these tools for building and identifying PR contacts. The above tools are very handy for your content team as well since they can use it to explore editors and other prominent publications for guest blogging opportunities.  

Challenge 2- Your Prospects Aren’t Replying To Your E-mail

You’ve cracked the e-mail id and sent an excitement filled e-mail, and then there’s a lull. The clock is ticking and you don’t know what to do. Days have passed, and you aren’t sure whether it is prudent to send a reminder or not. Of course, this whole run and chase game is a pain in you know where.

But behold, there’s not one but two tools that can help you here.

A)    Yesware

B)    Sidekick

These tools help you to track the action taken on the sent e-mail, such as when was the e-mail opened, when was the attachment opened, which device the e-mail was opened on, amongst others. This will give you a fair idea of the recipient’s action. For example- We send a lot of e-mails to editors for guest posts and we know, if someone has not replied within an hour of receiving our guest post, the idea is usually canned. There are numerous conclusions that you may draw depending on how effectively you use these tools and save a lot of time.

Who Will Benefit From These Tools– The sales and marketing team can use this tool to check on the status of their sales and marketing pitches, introduction emails etc. The content team can use it to check guest blogging status as mentioned earlier.

Challenge 3- You Are Clueless About Your Sales Progress

In our early days, our sales team was often flustered. There were product demos day in a day out yet no one knew the status of the sales pipeline or the expected revenue (Often it was scribbled on a piece of paper or business folder).This hinted at the poor planning and management and we also realised that we were not ready to take a risk like this. That’s when we decided to use Pipedrive, which is a sales CRM and pipeline management software. This tool helps to have a clear overview of product sales, leads, sales forecasting and much more.

The dashboard can be customised as per your needs and you can also view the sales summary of the entire team under a single header.

Here’s a quick demo >

Who Will Benefit From This Tool- This is a tool mostly for the sales guys or the boss!

Challenge 4- There’s A Lot Of  Written Communication, And I’m Making Errors

There’s a lot of written communication in a growing start-up.This ranges from internal e-mails, client e-mails, social media posts, mailers and so forth. A poorly written copy is horrifying and reflects badly on your company as well as you, just like this>

A Badly Written E-mail Copy

A Badly Written E-mail Copy

Though often unintentional these can be rectified by using a simple chrome extension called Grammarly.

Grammarly Can Make Your Online Communications Shine

Grammarly Can Make Your Online Communications Shine

Grammarly works very well with G-Mail and other social media tools and ensures that you do not make a mistake in your online communication.

Who Will Benefit From These Tools– Everyone from the sales to the marketing team in and anyone in between. There’s no excuse for bad communication.

Challenge  5- How To I  Write Well For My Company Blog?

Most startups work in a collaborative framework and often expect employees to chip in their experiences which later takes the form of a post on the company blog. Not everyone is gifted when it comes to writing, and most people shy away from doing so.

If you are facing a similar situation at your start-up, you can begin by doing a simple spelling and grammar check using a simple tool called  Ginger.

If a blog is an internal part of your inbound marketing strategy, you can also invest in a premium plan that is more suited to you needs. At AppVirality, we use Grammarly’s premium plan.

Another interesting tool that we use, especially while submitting our guest posts is the Hemingway App. Most editors expect crisp and simple writing in their article rather than an article immersed in Victorian vocabulary. Hemingway app helps users to check the simplicity of their writing. A score below 10 denotes a good writing sample.

Another interesting app that can help content writers in your team is the WriteFullApp. Write full app is ‘a new way of writing with confidence’. Here’s a quick video of the app >

 

Who Will Benefit From These Tools– The content team would benefit the most using these tools. However, I feel the client service team, can also use a few tools from the list before they hit that long format thank you or sorry letter.

Challenge 6-How Do I Create Great Visuals For Posts & Other Marketing Material?

We all know that visuals make the content stand out. In today’s day and time lack of an in-house graphic designer can be a problem but not an excuse anymore. There are various ways to create images/creatives for your blog posts (or any other marketing collaterals) using the below-mentioned tools. We are sharing the ones that we absolutely adore!

1)   Canva– The tool offers pre-set templates and thousands of options to choose from. You can even pick variety of stock images or create your own as per the requirement.  In fact, the cover image of this post is created using Canva!

2)   Unsplash– Quite often we crave for those high-resolution pictures to enhance a post, but don’t have the resources or time to search through thousands of them. I often find it irritating when I have to shortlist an image and later realise that it is isn’t free. For times like these you have Unsplash. Go download!

3)  Giphy– Let us accept that we all love those animated GIF images in our content, don’t we? There are times when a GIF image is better than JPG image and that’s when Giphy comes to your rescue. Giphy is also available as a Chrome extension.

4)  Piktochart– The best way to elevate your visual content is through infographics and every marketer has used it at least once to elevate their blogging strategy. They add an element of fun to the content along with providing information in a crisp format. Piktochart is an awesome tool that helps you create informative infographics without any trouble. Here’s a quick video that explains the product>

Who Will Benefit From These Tools– Strictly for use of marketing and content team.

Challenge 7- I Have So Many Ideas For The Blog, But I Can’t Remember Them All.

For content writers, this is a real challenge. In fact, this is the BIGGEST challenge that our team faces today. However, we’ve learnt from our mistakes and have been using these tools to simplify the process.

 1)  Evernote– This is one of the best and the most widely used app by individuals, and we are no exception to this fact. The tool can be used in numerous ways and brilliant features and in-app features that can take your day-to-day activities to a new level. We use it to collaborate and brainstorm on ideas through its chat option. This is a highly recommended tool for both individuals and team.

2)  Pocket– Our colleagues are in the habit of reading a lot to satisfy both personal and professional needs and mostly to keep ourselves updated with the changing market dynamics.  Many a times we come across interesting articles that are laced with brilliant ideas for execution and can be turned into an equally remarkable posts. For example, we came across a great article on growth hacking recently and decided to churn our thoughts in the form of a post. However, it just remained an idea since we couldn’t find the article later. The best way to save an article is by using Pocket. It’s a tool that is primarily meant for ‘reading later’ however we have been using this platform in numerous other ways. Here’s a snapshot of my Pocket feed.

Pocket Timeline

Pocket Timeline

 3)     Wunderlist– Another tool that we use quite often to create lists is aptly named, Wunderlist. Once you have jotted down the ideas you can share the same either through e-mail or through collaborating with your colleagues. People can comment on your list and share their thoughts/feedback, and these lists can be printed too for future reference.

 4)     BuzzSumo– We also use a tool called BuzzSumo. This tool has many facets and can be used for content research and planning, tracking competition and finding influencers amongst others. This is an excellent video that explains the tool better>

Who Will Benefit From These Tools– Content team and teams contributing to the company blog can use it effectively to develop ideas. Evernote, however can be used for many other purposes, both personal and professional.

Challenge 8- I Need Tools To Simplify Team And Client Conversations

Growing teams usually are quite compact as opposed to the volume of conversation that floats around and one cannot move back and forth remembering it all. Most importantly it isn’t a sustainable model. That’s when we decided to put everything in a single place and since then have been using Fleep for our day-to-day conversations.

Another tool that caught our fancy recently is Slack and it is every bit of what it claims, which is – be less busy!  

In fact, the guys have created a superb video that talks about its utility. Check it out here>

It has search and pinning features, which ensure that you don’t miss the important threads in the conversation. We also use it to share initial drafts, which can be uploaded directly instead of writing long e-mails. In fact a brilliant way to keep your inbox clutter free. You can also have video calls, directly from Fleep dashboard.

For our client conversations, we have stuck to Skype and Google Hangouts. Most people have these tools on their laptops or smartphones and are also affordable (did we say we are still growing?).

Who Will Benefit From These Tools– Sales and marketing team can use these tools for client calls along with getting in touch with remote team members. Fleep is relevant for the entire team.

Challenge 9 – There’s A PR Tsunami, I Can’t Track Them All

If you are facing a similar situation, we can understand your pain. In fact, we  faced a similar situation post our funding news was out. Of course, it’s an important phase and you want to be on top of your game. What’s more, you have an exceptional tool called Mention, a real-time media monitoring tool to help you with this problem. We also feel that it gives better results than Google Alerts. Btw, we hope you have read our awesome post on how we got funded (since we used funding as an example!)

This tool helps in reducing your reaction time and displays your proactive best even in normal situation.

Who Will Benefit From This Tool– Mention is a brilliant tool for marketing and PR team. The sales team can use it to monitor what is being said about the competition on the web or social media.

Challenge 10- We Are Doing So Much Of Coding, It Is Difficult To Share

This is a problem that most techies face today and that’s why you have GitHub. It is a GIT repository (project) hosting service which offers source code management. In simpler terms it is a publishing tool, version control system and collaboration platform all rolled into one making it an ideal tool for open source projects. It is a tool that your tech team can use to store your codes and share with your team.

Who Will Benefit From This Tool– Tech team all the way.

Challenge 11- HR Inventory Is Driving Me Crazy

Handling employee inventory can get tricky, especially when the founders want to concentrate on other aspects of a growing business. This may lead to inadequate monitoring of employee productivity, which is a cause of concern in a small set-up.

To avoid such glitches, we use ZohoPeople for our team. It is a single place that shows employee leaves, attendance details and can even track productivity of your employees. The best part about this platform is its employee self service platform and its mobile app. Try it for our sake!

Who Will Benefit From This Tool– ZohoPeople is essentially a team tool, however, it’s the founders who will benefit the most from it.

As a growing tech start-up, we have always wanted to cut away from fancy and flashy and instead focus on more productivity. The tools mentioned above are basic but practical and in most cases aren’t too heavy on your wallet We plan to add more tools to this list basis the challenges that we face in the coming future.

Till then share your inputs with us and update us about the tools that you have been using in your start-up!

About the Author

Taru Bhargava

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Taru is the Content Ninja at AppVirality Inc. She has a keen interest in mobile and digital marketing stories and dissects them - word by word. She loves good food, tea and slapstick humor.