Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Best Tools for Startups

Up until this summer, I had only one experience with a startup, and that was FME. Now, I am working for two startups and so far, it has been a pretty interesting experience. The contrast between working for a corporation versus working for a startup has been insanely different, but I have already learned a lot of important skills you need when working with a new company. Communication is key to making sure that everyone is on the same page and knows what they should be working on. Everyone has to know what is a priority, when the deadlines are, and who they go to for different information. I have also learned that self-discipline is absolutely necessary to assist the company, because even though they might not be as rigidly formatted as a corporation, if you are not constantly keeping up with your work, you’re hurting everyone and forcing them to clean up your mess.

Since starting, I have learned about a lot of great tools that help with communication and make getting a lot of work done with only a few people a whole lot easier.

Slack: In any company, people are constantly sending each other documents and messages through email, but email can get cluttered and overwhelming, so here comes Slack. This tool is basically AIM for startups. Your company makes a profile, and as each new member joins, they are added to the account, and then have full access to message anyone in the company. You can send messages, reminders, documents, power points, links and basically anything else you need. You can easily just click and drag any files into the chat window and it sends to whomever you need to send it to. By using this for quick and constant communication, people aren’t constantly sifting through emails to find the message you sent with the document attached. They just check your chat room, and there it is, along with everything else you have sent them. You can even make different group chat rooms for specific projects or information and add anyone who is involved to the chat. That way, all the information is in one place for everyone to see and the team can easily collaborate.

Trello: It’s easy to get overwhelmed with people asking you to do things and keeping track of what you need to do and what you’ve done. Enter Trello. Basically you make a board for your department or yourself and it creates cards for you “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done.” You can make a card for each activity you need to do and as you work through it you, move it to each section so you know what is waiting to be done, and what you are currently working on. If people need you to do something, they can create a card and send it to your inbox, which you can then keep track of and add to your to do list. Even better, each card that is made allows you to not only say the task, but add details about what you need to do for it, make a checklist to show your progression, and it can notify whoever sent you the card or who needs to know your progress of how far you are on it and when you are done. Each company can make different boards for different projects such as Marketing, Project Management, and any other major projects that people are working on. This creates a space where everyone on the team can keep track of where each person is for their tasks and can help keep the project flow smooth. This is absolutely necessary for every Startup to have.

Right Inbox: Every company uses email, especially when communicating with clients. Right Inbox is a great add-on to get for your email account because it gives you some great tools. For instance, say you compose an email to an important client, and you want them to see it first thing when they wake up. You can compose the email whenever, and then at the bottom of the composition box, Right Inbox has the add on “Send Later” which allows you to set the specific time that you want it to be sent at, and it will send it automatically at that time. You can also create a reminder for the email, or make the email re-occurring. It’s a really great feature and anyone using email can benefit from it.

These are just a few of the tools that I have been introduced to so far while working at the startups, and they are all extremely helpful. If you are working at a startup or are currently building one, the faster you implement these into your day-to-day life, the easier task management will be, the easier communication will be, and the easier your life will be.