Startups have a unique technological challenge: they've got to run their businesses by using enterprise-level tools without being able to spend enterprise-level budget. Unfortunately, they've also got to make sure they're capable of enabling on-the-go productivity without the oversight of a large IT department and expensive mobile device management (MDM) software.
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Fortunately, there are a host of excellent, free mobile applications available that can help startups compete against bigger and richer competitors, regardless of industry. In this article, we've listed 11 free mobile apps your startup should deploy immediately. The apps focus on everything from communications and recruitment to storage and customer relationship management (CRM). This list is by no means complete as new free mobile apps are launched every day that are designed to serve this exact purpose. If you think we've missed one or if you hear of a new one after you read this, let us know in the comments section at the end of the article. If you're not a startup but you're still interested in free mobile apps, then check out this list.
1. Microsoft Power BI
As your startup finds its footing, you'll need to analyze data and disseminate information to employees in palatable ways. Microsoft Power BI gives you access to a wide variety of ways to monitor real-time data and trends for marketing campaigns, business performance, overall spending, and more. Best of all: the desktop and mobile software is free up to 1 GB. To view and update these interactive charts on your smartphone, download the mobile Android or iOS app.
If you plan on selling any of your products online, then you'll need a solid e-commerce tool. X-Cart offers a free plan that lets you build a website with responsive design, a search engine optimization (SEO)-friendly catalog, and a host of add-on modules that you can pay for a la carte. With X-Cart's iOS app, you can check your dashboard for sales stats and current orders, send messages to customers, and more. Unfortunately, X-Cart is not available on Android devices.
3. Evernote Scannable
As much as most of us would love to live in a paper-free world, not all of us have gotten the email memo. Evernote Scannable lets you quickly scan business cards, documents, meeting notes, and any other paper-based file via your smartphone camera. You'll be able to share the file, upload it to LinkedIn, upload to the cloud, and upload it anywhere else your smartphone can access. The tool is completely free and available on Android and iOS.
4. Zoho CRM
Keeping track of your sales leads and your sales staff can be tricky. Thankfully, customer relationship management (CRM) tools exist to help you manage all of the sales and service data your business produces. Unfortunately, these databases can be quite expensive. Zoho CRM aims to solve that problem. This free CRM tool isn't robust by any means, but it offers your startup access for 10 users, basic sales lead, marketing, and customer-support automation as well as limited reporting and forecasting tools.
If your startup isn't using LinkedIn to search for new talent, then you're seriously remiss. You might be one salesperson, one developer, or one business partner away from conquering your vertical. The iOS and Android apps feature easy contact and connection management as well as solid push notification customization.
6. Zoho Recruit
Once you've scouted candidates on LinkedIn, you'll need software to help you manage the hiring process. Zoho Recruit is a solid applicant tracking (AT) tool, especially if you already use other Zoho Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps (such as the aforementioned CRM app). The free plan offers access to one administrator who can manage up to five jobs. The tool is available on both Android and iOS devices, and lets you input, publish, and track jobs. You'll also receive five custom email templates for starters.
7. Google Drive
We're all familiar with Google Drive. But did you know that this productivity suite, file-syncing, and online storage service is free up to 15 GB? That's basically the size of an entry-level iPhone 6. Also, files you create by using Google Docs, Sheets, and other in-Drive apps (in Google's proprietary, online formats) don't count toward that quota nor do files shared with you. With Drive, you gain access to real-time document management for remote collaboration, which is perfect for last-minute updates to your business plan. With the mobile apps, available on iOS and Android (obviously), you can create, edit, and share documents, see details of your files, and mark them to be stored offline on your device.
Zenefits is one of the best human resources (HR) software and management tools on the market. It's ideally suited for startups, and it features a gorgeous user interface (UI) and integrates well with most major payroll processors. With the free plan, you'll be able to make employee updates, enable employees to view and update their own information, and get access to an employee directory. Zenefits is only available on iOS.
Slack is the ideal business collaboration and messaging app for your startup. You can chat with employees in large, open groups or you can create small groups or one-to-one Slack channels for private conversations. Slack's Lite option is free and comes with 5 GB of file storage. With the Android, iOS, and Windows apps, you can stay connected to your employees 24 hours a day. The best part about Slack is that its GIF and emoji functionality offer a startup-like collegiality that you won't find on more zipped-up, corporate communications tools.
Don't let your geography limit who you can hire. Join.me offers excellent mobile video conferencing for free, for up to 10 meeting participants and five video feeds. This gives you the tools to work closely and remotely with rockstar employees around the world. You'll be able to share your screen and make internet calls to audio conferences. The tool features a modern UI that's easy to use and offers plenty of features to enhance your online meetings. These features include easy meeting creation, solid video consistency, and online chat functionality. You'll get all of this on free Android and iOS apps.
Your startup is going to need a solid email marketing tool regardless of what your business is attempting to sell. MailChimp offers a "Forever Free" plan that lets you send 12,000 emails per month to less than 2,000 accounts. MailChimp also offers a pay-as-you-go plan that's designed for businesses that discover the free plan isn't enough but for whom the monthly plans aren't quite right, either. Under the pay-as-you-go plan, you pay for each email. This plan's rates vary by volume: the more you buy, the lower the price. For example, 300 credits cost $9 or $0.01 per email, while 200,000 credits cost $1,000 or $0.05 per thousand emails. MailChimp's Android and iOS apps let you manage your lists, add new subscribers, send campaigns, and view reports.