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14 Free Tools To Help Kick Off Your Startup

Middle Easterners just love free stuff; so we’ve rounded up 14 tools that can help entrepreneurs start their businesses, from creating a logo to designing a business model, at absolutely no charge.

No money to develop your idea? No problem. In fact, almost all of the time, entrepreneurs lack the financial resources to develop their ideas, but that's not a key driver to startup-failure. Instead, the internet - backed up by brilliant minds - has blessed us with an abundance of platforms, directories, and applications that assist in turning ideas into realities. Whether it's a pool of accredited online courses, a crowd-funding platform or a graphic design marketplace, it costs absolutely nothing. In an effort to further break the barrier of transforming a simple idea into a startup, we've listed some tools to get you jump-started.

1. Google’s Business Model Canvas

Creating a Business Model Canvas (BMC) is one of the very first steps of developing a startup idea; the ever-changing and dynamic environment in entrepreneurship has made the traditional 50-page business plan outdated. Using a BMC gives you a quick overview of the cornerstones of your startup, which makes it easier to change any fundamentals once you start implementing.

2. Y Combinator’s “How To Start Your Startup” course 

Initially taught at Stanford, this 10-week course is designed for people who want to start their startups in the form of one online class. From videos by startup experts to reading materials to assignments, this course acts like a building block for all future entrepreneurs to actually start.

3. Startup Stash

A one-stop-shop to help you build your own startup, Startup Stash is a directory offering a variety of tools to get you started. Starting from idea generation to market research and all the way to MVP and launching, this platform has got it all.

4. Canva

Whether it’s designing a logo, a social media post, brochures, or invitations, illustrations are essentially what grabs the reader’s attention. Canva is an online design hub that makes it easy and quick for you to create designs and documents. For complete beginners, it also has a section just for tutorials and courses on the elements of designing.

5. Lucid Chart

An online application that makes sketching and sharing professional diagrams easier, Lucid Chart can be used in all phases of developing a startup. From brainstorming and idea generation to scaling and project management, visual representations can now be created faster.

6. Eventtus

Engaging in entrepreneurial events, networking with startup experts and attending useful workshops will give rising entrepreneurs an edge when starting their startup. Eventtus is an application created by Egyptian entrepreneur Mai Medhat that compiles all events happening around you - from top conferences, to exhibitions, to trade shows and corporate events.

7. QUICKMVP

Creating a minimal viable product using the lean startup methodology has become a rising technique used to test a product before its launch in the market. This platform helps entrepreneurs validate their startup idea without spending money by getting customer feedback from a target audience.

8. Zoomaal

Driven by the core value to support innovative projects in the Arab world, Zoomaal is a crowdfunding platform that allows startups to collect funds from supporters. Anyone who believes in your idea and feels the need to give back to their community will offer financial support to help you kick-start it.

9. Hootsuite

Engaging with your target audience and supporters is a significant element in building your startup; especially when it’s through social media, the fastest way to market for any business. Hootsuite makes handling communication channels and scheduling content less time-consuming.

10. Slickpie

Not everyone is good with numbers, which is why Slickpie eases the hassle of creating your startup’s financials. The platform handles all accounting and financial-related tasks, from simple invoices to detailed reports that monitor financial performance. Just like a personal financial guru.

11. Class Central

Making knowledge and education accessible to all, Class Central offers a variety of Ivy League courses through its online platform. When kicking off your startup, you may need to learn how to code - instead of hiring a tech-geek - or learn how to finance and grow your startup without a VC, this platform allows you to enrol in any course you led by top-notch professors. Graded assignments and certificates are also offered, but at a small fee.

12. Wordpress

Knowing how to code is not a prerequisite to developing a website in the case of Wordpress. Using an already existing template, this user-friendly platform allows you to create websites and blogs for free. Although for special features users are required to pay, a beta version will do for now as you are still starting your startup.

13. Shake

The era for writing up long contracts is gone; Shake makes creating, sending and signing legally binding agreements a simple task. Whether it’s a contract with your co-founders, with an investor or even a partner, it can be done in a matter of minutes.

14. re:Work

It is with no doubt that manager-employee relationships are pivotal to the success of a company, which is why Google has offered free HR-based tools to strengthen it. Including a manager feedback survey, a one-simple thing worksheet for more personal than professional matters and a series of training materials for managers still adapting to the culture of a company. 

Photography by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions.


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