Tech 101

Startup Essentials: 9 Best Free Tools Your Startup Needs

14 min read
Aug 12, 2021

Starting a new company is an uphill battle. Here are the 9 best free tools to position your startup for success.

Ashish UpadhyayContent Writer

As a startup founder, you're not alien to the challenges a budding business faces. A key challenge is maintaining low setup and operation costs while providing excellent service to customers.

While many software products can help you achieve that, you may have to stretch your budget to buy these tools, as they tend to be expensive. But you can still build a software stack that doesn’t eat into your profits, and free tools are a great way to do that.

If you don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together a list of nine best tools for startups across the customer relationship management (CRM), cybersecurity, and payment processing software categories. These tools will help you avoid customer churn, process payments easily, and prevent security threats so you can focus more on scaling your startup.

Featured products are rated the highest by software users in their categories. They are listed alphabetically under their respective categories. (Read how we shortlisted these nine free startup tools at the bottom of the page.

9 Best Free Tools Your Startup Needs

Best free CRM tools for your startup

Flowlu


  • Overall user rating: 4.9/5

  • Notable features: Online CRM, agile project management, mind maps, online invoicing

  • Paid plans start at: $29 per month


Flowlu is an online CRM and project management tool to manage various aspects of your startup business, including finance tracking, invoicing, and knowledge base creation.

The software allows you to track customer journeys and nurture leads based on the activity of your website visitors. Its email integration feature lets your sales team communicate with potential customers directly through the platform.

Using Flowlu, you can schedule appointments with prospects and customers as well as automate follow-up tasks such as signing up a new user. You can also create knowledge base articles to help customers navigate your products and services on their own.

Flowlu offers chat and email support and a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.

Task management in Flowlu

Task management in Flowlu (Source)

Think Flowlu is the right CRM tool for your startup? Read user reviews here.

LoopedIn


  • Overall user rating: 4.8/5

  • Notable features: Ideation/crowdsourcing, surveys and feedback, product roadmapping

  • Paid plans start at: $12 per month


LoopedIn is an audience feedback collection and product roadmapping tool. It helps collect customer feedback, plan product releases, assign tasks and track their status, and manage requirements.

Using website announcements and email and push notifications, you can inform customers about product updates. You can also use a voting option to understand customer needs and make changes to your products accordingly.

The software offers user segmentation to target specific audiences for announcements and news updates. It also provides a content management system with video embedding to host blogs and videos for keeping your audience engaged.

LoopedIn is web-based and offers 24/7 live chat support.

Configuring widgets in LoopedIn

Configuring widgets in LoopedIn (Source)

Think LoopedIn is the right CRM software for your startup? Read user reviews here.

Referrizer


  • Overall user rating: 4.8/5

  • Notable features: Lead capture, referral marketing, website traffic conversion

  • Paid plans start at: $239 per month


Referrizer is a marketing automation tool that helps increase referrals, revenue, and website traffic conversion. It offers lead engagement, referral tracking, and rewards management, among others.

With Referrizer, you can create a landing page and integrate it with your website to capture leads. Additionally, you can build an affiliate network using your existing customer database.

The software allows you to communicate with customers via SMSs, calls, and emails. You can send mass announcements as well as personalized content. You can also partner with local businesses to increase referrals and reward your customers for recommending your business to others.

Referrizer is web-based and offers phone and email support.

Partnering with local businesses in Referrizer

Partnering with local businesses in Referrizer (Source)

Think Referrizer is the right CRM software for your startup? Read user reviews here.

Best free cybersecurity tools for your startup

Guardio


  • Overall user rating: 4.8/5

  • Notable features: Anomaly/malware detection, behavioral analytics, intrusion detection

  • Paid plans start at: $5.99 per month


Guardio is a lightweight web extension for Chrome and Microsoft Edge. It protects against cyberattacks such as phishing, malware, and harmful pop-ups to create a safe browsing environment for your employees.

The software helps you navigate the internet safely. It blocks phishing attempts and protects against malicious websites. It uses encryption to prevent data leakages and notifies you about any data theft attempts.

The tool also performs routine website analysis and scans web extensions to keep malicious extensions at bay.

Guardio offers phone, chat, and email support. The tool is web-based.

Dashboard in Guardio

Dashboard in Guardio (Source)

Think Guardio is the right cybersecurity software for your startup? Read user reviews here.

JumpCloud


  • Overall user rating: 4.7/5

  • Notable features: API integration, compliance management, activity tracking, reporting

  • Paid plans start at: $2 per month


JumpCloud is an IT compliance software solution that ensures secure access to your organization’s directory from any device. It offers access control management, security compliance tracking, credential management, and event logging.

The software helps you create a secure cloud-based environment and connect employee devices remotely to simplify identity management. Its information sharing and access control functionality allow your workforce to navigate company systems securely and find the information they need.

With JumpCloud, you can create employee authentication processes for remote logins. You can also use APIs to integrate the tool with third-party CRM and workspace applications.

JumpCloud is cloud-based and offers 24/7 email and phone support.

User management in JumpCloud

User management in JumpCloud (Source)

Think JumpCloud is the right cybersecurity software for your startup? Read user reviews here.

WP Cerber Security


  • Overall user rating: 4.9/5

  • Notable features: Behavioral analytics, whitelisting/blacklisting, vulnerability scanning

  • Paid plans start at: $29 per quarter


WP Cerber Security is a security solution designed for WordPress. It offers algorithm inspection, cyberattack prevention, and bot detection, among other features.

The software helps scan and index your WordPress website for malware, trojans, and viruses. It continuously monitors new, changed, and suspicious files for malware agents.

The tool allows you to create custom GEO access rules to restrict particular geographies from accessing your website. It also monitors HTTP requests to identify authorized and unauthorized connections.

WP Cerber Security is cloud-based and offers 24/7 live chat support.

Conducting a site integrity check in WP Cerber Security

Conducting a site integrity check in WP Cerber Security (Source)

Think WP Cyber Security is the right cybersecurity software for your startup? Read user reviews here.

Best free payment processing tools for your startup

Square Payments


  • Overall user rating: 4.7/5

  • Notable features: ACH payment processing, billing and invoicing, contactless NFC

  • Paid plans start at: Contact the vendor for a quote.


Square Payments is an online payment processing platform that offers payment processing, invoice management, and fraud detection, among other features.

As a Square Payments user, you can collect and process payments from any location. The tool also allows you to accept contactless NFC payments and chip-based transactions.

Square Payments tracks transactions and provides you instant access to all processed sales. It analyzes customers’ credit card information and checks transactions and the credit history to prevent fraud, for both low- and high-risk transactions.

The tool integrates with third-party accounting software to make tax reporting and financial analysis easier. It offers email, phone, and live chat support. A mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices.

Invoice generation in Square Payments

Invoice generation in Square Payments (Source)

Think Square Payments is the right payment processing software for your startup? Read user reviews here.

Stripe


  • Overall user rating: 4.7/5

  • Notable features: Cryptocurrency processing, recurring billing, PCI compliance

  • Paid plans start at: Contact vendor for a quote.


Stripe is a digital wallet and payment gateway tool that allows you to make payments and transfer money via mobile devices. It offers a payment management dashboard, invoice generation, and subscription management.

As a Stripe user, you can bill customers across the globe using the same platform. You can also send customized invoices from within the Stripe dashboard.

Stripe uses machine learning models that analyze transaction data to detect fraud and confirm the identity of global customers. In addition, it automatically calculates taxes on your sales and creates tax reports for financial disclosures.

The tool provides 24/7 email and live chat support. A mobile app is available for Android and iOS devices.

Payment analytics in Stripe

Payment analytics in Stripe (Source)

Think Stripe is the right payment processing software for your startup? Read user reviews here.

Venmo


  • Overall user rating: 4.8/5

  • Notable features: ACH payment processing, point of sale, customer engagement

  • Paid plans start at: Contact the vendor for a quote.


Venmo is a mobile-based social commerce app that allows you to carry out transactions for all types of purchases. It also helps with bookkeeping and tax management.

As a business owner, you can create a Venmo business profile to accept payments from customers. You can implement targeted customer rewards for transactions such as first-time login as well as offer gift coupons upon completion of a certain number of transactions. This helps build and retain your customer base.

Venmo allows you to accept contactless payments through QR codes. The app integrates with third-party payment portals to make it easier for you to receive payments from customers.

The tool offers email and phone support.

Generating a payment QR code for a vendor in Venmo

Generating a payment QR code for a vendor in Venmo (Source)

Think Venmo is the right payment processing software for your startup? Read user reviews here.

How to choose the right free software for your startup?

As a startup owner, every decision you make is crucial for the survival of your business. That includes selecting the right software. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when buying software for your budding business:

  • Focus on your business requirements. Does your startup have marketing, CRM, accounting, or project management needs? Identify your needs, based on your operations and workflows, to narrow down your product choices.

  • Choose products that integrate easily. Your software stack should have integration-friendly tools that work well together. With integrated tools, processes such as customer data sharing and migration will become more efficient.

  • Invest in tools that automate processes. Make a list of tasks that can be automated using software (e.g., sending promotional emails and paying bills). Next, ensure the free tools you’ve selected can automate those tasks and free up your workforce.

Common questions to ask while selecting free software for your startup

Consider asking these questions to vendors to ensure the software you’ve shortlisted will allow your startup to scale:

  • How long does it take to fix bugs? Vendors offering free tools usually take more time to fix bugs in their products. But if your processes are time-sensitive, a delayed response can impact operations as well as revenue. Therefore, check the turnaround time for getting software errors resolved.

  • How customizable is the unpaid software version? Free tools are often limited in functionality, and as a startup, you may have specific needs based on your target audience or business processes. Assessing the level of customization available in the free versions will help you make a better choice.

  • How much will it cost to upgrade to a paid version? As your startup scales, the features of a free tool may start limiting your efficiency. Therefore, check the cost of upgrading to a paid version to ensure it’s within your budget.

Bootstrapping your startup for success

Not every startup is backed by venture capitalists or has a large cash reserve to use. If you are in a similar situation, these free tools can help build a software stack to bootstrap your startup and scale it.

If you want to explore more software products, check out our software directory to find relevant solutions. Also, visit GetApp’s resources page to read industry insights and make the right software purchase decisions.

How we selected (methodology):

For each category, we selected the top three products with the highest ratings as of June 27, 2021. The selected products had reviews from companies that had <10 employees and at least 20 reviews on GetApp over the past two years from the date of publication.

To be considered for this article, each product had to comply with the following conditions:

  • Offer a free, standalone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).

  • Meet the market definition of the software category the product belonged to.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps automate and manage the customer life cycle for sales and marketing departments. CRM software consolidates customer information into one repository so that users can better organize and manage relationships, automates common processes, and provides tools for monitoring performance and productivity.

Cybersecurity is the combination of people, policies, processes and technologies employed by an enterprise to protect its cyber assets. Cybersecurity is optimized to levels that business leaders define, balancing the resources required with usability/manageability and the amount of risk offset. Subsets of cybersecurity include IT security, IoT security, information security and OT security.

Payment processing software enables organizations of varying sizes to process credit card payments via either the internet or traditional point of sale (POS) interfaces. Credit card processing applications can be found as both hosted and desk-top platforms. Typical features of credit card processing solutions include payment processing, credit card authorizations, settlements and administrative functions. Payment processing software is related to banking systems software and point of sale (POS) software.

About the author

Ashish Upadhyay

Content Writer

Hey there, I’m Ashish. I’m a writer at GetApp. I bring you insights about CRM, accounting, and emerging tech trends. I studied at University of Delhi and have been working as a B2B writer since 2018. Home base: Gurgaon; (1-2) things about me: Love trekking, working out, and recording music. The [1-2] tech trend[s]/innovation[s] I think you should keep an eye on: Is AI gonna steal all our jobs?

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