Start-ups are constantly changing how they run operations, re-evaluating the tools they use to communicate, collaborate, complete tasks, and generally redefining how they do business on a day-to-day basis. Last month we launched a new recurring PCMag Start-Up Toolkit monthly series, and we're back again with 10 more products we tested in the PCMag Labs this past month across hardware, software, and applications. One of these tools might be your start-up's new best friend.
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SOFTWARE AND SERVICES
Business software comes in all shapes and sizes. But whether it's customer relationship management (CRM), human resources (HR), onboarding and training, or managing employee devices by using an enterprise mobile device management (MDM) solution, software and the data it processes make up the lifeblood of a start-up's day-to-day operations. Luckily, PCMag reviewed tools this month for all four use cases just mentioned.
For a start-up that's scaling up and growing its customer base, a reliable CRM system is paramount. Apptivo, one of PCMag's Editors' Choice CRM tools, is an affordable, easy-to-use platform for your start-up's sales and marketing teams to manage users, contacts, and leads. Apptivo is also extremely customizable, with more than 40 app integrations across nine different categories accessible from the Apptivo interface—from Intuit QuickBooks and Salesforce.com to WordPress and Google Apps. For the start-up that wants to centralize its software as much as possible, Apptivo is their one-stop shop.
As far as HR software and management systems go, Editors' Choice BambooHR is the top of the line. If the scandals of even a hot HR start-up such as Zenefits prove anything, it's that you shouldn't skimp on HR. BambooHR is more expensive than a tool like Zenefits, but for the premium, you get a well-designed user experience (UX) with performance management and applicant tracking (AT) modules. You also get integrations with dozens of other HR providers through its open application programming interface (API) to make the paperwork transition easier for new employees joining your hot start-up from other organizations.
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Start-ups want to get new hires up to speed as fast and as efficiently as possible. Docebo, our Editors' Choice for online learning platforms for businesses, is ideal for in-house training, particularly for the way the young, tech-savvy employees you'll be hiring learn. Docebo emphasizes gamification and social networking while providing rich analytics and seamless course creation. It'll get new employees onboarded and prepared to hit the ground running.
Mobile device management (MDM) is something every start-up needs lest it end ups in a situation in which its employee's device or data is compromised, and SOTI MobiControl is an affordable and capable Editors' Choice tool for managing everything to do with corporate devices regardless of operating system (OS). SOTI MobiControl can manage your start-up's Android, iOS, and Windows devices from a single dashboard, and also includes a nifty remote control feature for Android.
Software isn't worth anything to a start-up without good hardware on which to run it. Start-ups need all sorts of hardware to fill out the stereotypical open floor plan, exposed-brick Silicon Valley office space, and then make sure people actually get work done in their new sleek digs. Here are a few PCMag recommendations.
Dell S2317HWi Monitor
Monitors in a start-up's office need to look good and work well, with high resolution and image quality for work on different projects. The Dell S2317HWi is a capable 23-inch monitor for an individual workspace that also doubles as a mobile charger; it can display wireless content from Android and Windows devices simultaneously. The only catch: it doesn't sync with iOS devices.
By and large, start-up office environments are fun. There's free food and drinks, lots of office banter, and maybe even a ping pong or foosball table. The counter to that mentality is that it can be tough to focus with all of that noise and commotion. Springing for a pair of Focal Listen headphones for everyone in the office will keep employees happy and towing the work/play balance with a no-frills, comfortable, and high-quality pair of headphones.
HP Spectre 13
If you want to deck out your employees with a line of sexy laptops that take your start-up shop up another notch on the cool ladder, the HP Spectre 13 will serve you well. The luxury laptop is the thinnest laptop currently available and sports good battery life, fast performance, multiple USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3, and a sharp design. It's not a touch screen but the Spectre can manage everything else and look good doing it.
New Matter MOD-t 3D Printer
A good 3D printer is a handy device to have around a start-up's modern office. Whether you're pumping out design prototypes, prepping for a conceptual presentation, or simply decorating, the New Matter MOD-t 3D Printer is a good-looking and relatively cheap 3D printer to plop next to your printer and scanner (maybe even in the spot where a fax machine used to go) and have some fun with.
Start-ups often employ telecommuters. Even if they don't, their employees will have to work from home at some point. When they do, a start-up shouldn't need to worry about the security of the company devices and data which they take home with them. For the start-up that prefers a physical device to a virtual private network (VPN), XOnet could be a worthwhile investment. The XOnet box plugs into your home network and the smaller XOkey plugs into your laptop. From there, the VPN-like internet connection secures encryption keys, enables remote access to network-aware devices, and filters out ads, malware-hosting sites, and phishing sites.
Start-Up Tool of the Month:
Ideaflip: Ideas are the currency of start-ups. Your start-up was founded on an idea you willed into reality. Idea management software keeps all of those brainstorming sessions and "next great ideas" organized and ready to help your start-up improve its products and services or launch something game-changing. Ideaflip is a great tool for capturing those ideas, helping employees collaborate during a "silent brainstorm" and building mind maps to make sense of it all. Don't let that next great idea float away.