Services Worth Paying For as a Startup

[Update: added crowdsound]

If you have been reading my blog or following me on Twitter then you already know that I quit my job almost a year ago and launched my first startup (Yonkly) a few months ago.

The economy sucks, we are bootstrapped and doing whatever it takes to survive – I hope that kid I stole the sandwich from will understand.  As a startup, we need to cut the fat (not that there is any) and make sure we only pay for things we need (and no, you don’t need a subscription to Playboy).

I thought, I would come up with a list of online (and offline services) that are worth paying for.  Feel free to leave a comment with links to services that you use and think are worth the money.

FreshBooks: A great way to track your time and invoice your clients (until your startup takes off).  I am currently using their free plan but they have plans starting at $14/month

Basecamp: Really easy project management on the web.  They have a free version and plans start at $12/month

DreamHost: A very affordable way to host your blogs and websites I must have over 30 websites hosted with them for a ridiculously low fee.  It is so low, I want to pay extra with my bill (but I won’t).

WooThemes: Impress your customers with a killer WordPress theme.  These are some of the best themes I have seen anywhere.  We are currently using it on the Yonkly blog.

Animoto: So you have decided to raise some money and want to create an interesting video to put on your homepage.  Unfortunately you are as artistically talented as box of donuts (no offense Krispy Kream).  This is a killer way to create a video, go and try it out, you can create a 30 second video for free.  Here is the video I created for Yonkly, it took me less than 30 minutes. Speaking of raising money, try this site.  I signed up and paid $250 to have my application submitted to thousands of potential investors and investor groups.  Warning: It has only been 3 days since I subscribed to it, so I don’t know how effective it is.  I personally like the fact that I can reach so many investors very quickly it’s like for entrepreneurs/investors.  But don’t get your hopes too high, only 5% get funded.  Here are some stats

StreamSend: Now that you have 15 thousand people signed up to receive your newsletter announcing the grand opening (or closing) of your startup, you need a way to send bulk email.  StreamSend is the cheapest I could find.  Not that best, but the cheapest.

Remember The Milk (RTM): Stay organized and productive with Remember The Milk.  They are everywhere: on the web, on your iphone, in your gmail inbox, in your gmail calendar on your windows and mac desktop, in your iGoogle start page and even integrates with QuickSilver on the mac and Launchy on the pc.  It’s free but I pay $25/year to use their iPhone app (that’s 25 a YEAR).  One drawback: it doesn’t sync withOutlook  

Amazon Prime: If you are going to buy a ton of book to tell you how to market/sell/buy/start/ a business or how to work 4 hours a week and live your dream then you should subscribe to Amazon Prime.  It gives you free shipping on pretty much everything at Amazon for $75 a year.

Amazon Web Services: The best way to reduce your bandwidth and online storage.  I use S3, CloudFront, Elastic Compute Cloud and SimpleDB.  I even created a SimpleDB manager, which you should buy a copy of.  Legend has it that for every copy sold a terrorist is captured.  You don’t believe?  I sold a copy the day John Walker (the terrorist not the drink) was captured.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Joe’s Goals: Set some goals, track them and celebrate your achievements (or cry yourself to sleep, loser).  It’s free, but you can pay $12/year to have the ads removed.  I will take my ads now, please.

CrowdSound: A great way to collect user feedback.  They have a free plan and plans starting at $10/month.  Definitely worth the money.

And of course, the myriad of Google tools and services out there: Docs, Calendar, Mail, Analytics, Reader.  They are all free but you have to give up your soul to Google.  But don’t worry, they will “do no evil”.  Worst case, they will sell ads on your soul with SoulSense (still in beta).

Please share with everyone services that you use and think are worth the money.

Hacker News users are stubborn and insist on commenting there.  I can’t seem to convince them, so here is a link to their comments

Disclaimer: I am sure you noticed that most of the links have a referral code.  Don’t worry, that didn’t affect my recommendations or integrity (what is that?).  I actually use all the services mentioned above.  Plus we are bootstrapped and the economy is in the crapper so give me a break and use these links.