Digital tools for early-stage startups

The right tools can make a huge difference to your ability to run your startup and life. There used to be a time that great software cost more than most entrepreneurs could afford. No more. A highly competitive and innovative market has led to many companies using “freemium” strategies to recruit customers, resulting in a proliferation of fantastic free tools.

This post contains 10 of the best that we have come across but there are many other useful tools out there. Steve Blank, godfather of the lean start-up movement, has a great list of other resources that we drew from in putting together this post: Startup Tools. Are there any that you have found invaluable to your company? Please share them in the comments!

Lean LaunchLab: An easy way for any team to go lean.

Validation Board: Test your startup idea without wasting time or money

Validately: An easy way to turn designs or wireframes into a clickable prototype.

Strategyzer: Your toolbox to build better Business Models.

Lean Stack Canvas: The faster, more effective way to communicate your business model with internal and external stakeholders.

Unassumer: A simple web-based software that helps you learn quickly what your customers really want, so you can focus on delivering the best products and services. A great tool for testing product/market fit through a customer development survey.

Unbounce: It lets you create simple landing page design and do A/B split testing. It takes the pain out of creating landing pages (no HTML knowledge needed) and enables you to quickly test the market for your product idea.

Usertesting: Not a replacement for face to face usability tests but a good way of pinpointing any usability issues at an early stage.

Balsamiq Mockups: A great tool for creating interactive wireframes. It helps them to visualize their product ideas without the need for lots of documentation.


Reinventing Life Science Startups

Steve Blank (@sgblank) is the guy who told business schools to do away with business plans and start teaching aspiring entrepreneurs by having them try their hands at launching a startup and conducting research with potential customers. His teaching method, known as the Lean LaunchPad, it’s being taught in engineering and business schools at Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia Universities among others.

The latest group to show interest in Blank’s approach to entrepreneurship is scientists. Last October, Blank and a team of world class veteran investors taught the Lean LaunchPad to researchers and clinicians at University of California San Francisco to help them move efficiently their technology from an academic lab or clinic into the commercial world. The class was segmented into four cohorts: therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and digital health.

You can get a feel of the course by looking at the first two weeks of lectures, covering value proposition and customer segment, here.

You can also watch a summary of the differences found between the different cohorts in the following video:

Finally, these are the lessons learned by Steve Blank after his first immersion in Life Sciences.

  • Each of these Life Science domains has a unique business model
  • Commercialization of therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and digital health all require the Principal Investigators / founders outside their building talking to customers, partners, regulators
  • Only the Principal Investigators / founders have the authority and insight to pivot when their hypotheses are incorrect
  • The Lean Startup process and the Lean LaunchPad class can save years in commercialization in these domains
  • This can be taught