Startup – Tips and Tools

As we make our way through the woods on Gridstone Research, the startup that I work at, I often come across tools and methods on solving problems that are probably the same problems that many other startups or larger businesses face. Sometimes we struggle for a bit and then find something that works well. If I think it might be useful to others, I plan to post them here.
Here’s a solution that I came upon recently to a problem that many people in Marketing face. At Gridstone, given the stage at which we are I run the Marketing function myself. Getting the web-site right is something I end up spending a lot of time on. The marketing consulting firm that works very closely with us. As we iterate through design ideas for a variety of things like the home page shown here, it is not efficient or effective to write feedback notes in emails. When you are dealing with graphical images, you need tools that work well in that medium.

My first solution was to buy a tablet PC. I use a sketching program called Alias Sketchbook Pro from Autodesk to make annotations on any design ideas, save the file as a jpeg file and email it out to the others.

But that way, I could make my comments on the design idea, but since my co-workers did not have tablet PCs, the collaboration didn’t quite work.

Last week I experimented with fototagger. It is a small, free application that allows you to annotate photos or any jpeg image. It integrates well with Yahoo’s photo sharing service flickr. The result is what is posted on my account on flickr. The image above is the design of our home page for the upcoming new web-site. Clicking on the picture will take you to the photo in my account on flickr. Take your mouse over the picture to see the annotations.

fototagger allows you to upload the picture with the tags directly to flickr where you can share it with co-workers. flickr has its own tagging feature (called notes) but with fototagger you get much more flexibility and precision.

I may still have to use Alias if I want to draw something as a suggested change to the design, but for the most part I think fototagger + flickr will work just fine. If this works well, I can see us using this in our product UI design as well.


  1. Satish says:

    Fototagger is one nice app, that has come of help for you..

    For example.. all the photos in the pool like TUAW(The unofficial Apple Weblog) use the feature to highlight what all gear people stock up with their mac’s..

    Another way of doing the same is by using tags, which are supported in various apps these days like picasa, ACDsee etc..

    The concept of flickr and fototagging is the best one among all though…


  2. Varun Dabke says:

    One more startup tool:
    I too am an exfosion and I too have joined a startup based in Fremont, but I work from India. Most of the team is in Fremont and ISD calling is a big cost.
    I have discovred a tool called Fring(.com). It installs on my average nokia phone with Airtel data-plan and allows me to connect VOIP calls to skype and gtalk for free.
    Great reduction in cost with flexibility of Mobile phone!
    I am always on, where ever I tarvel,at whatever time.


  3. Hey Basab,
    It’s great to see you writing about startup tools, many many startups will benefit from this, including ours Tekriti Software.

    My two cents on how startups relying on the internet for their communication and delivery is to use a multi homing routers to aggregate the bandwidth from different ISP providers. So for example you could use a 2 port multi-homing router from edimax at about $100, combine it with two 256Kbps lines to get a dedicated bandwidth of 512Kbps at a cost of Rs 3000 per month. A leased line offering this bandwidth will cost nothing less than Rs. 25,000 per month. So money saved is money earned.


  4. Sudhi says:

    Another useful tool is freeconference( for teleconferencing.You could use a vonage like ip phone with a fixed rent every month.You could schedule and manage conference calls without paying out on large bills. In the free option called Web-scheduled standard,they do not provide toll free numbers.There is a US dial-in number alone which gets charged.


  5. Sankalp says:

    I hve worked last 10 yrs in Insurance software industry. But I have intention to start my own softawre company. What are various medium of getting first project?

    Thanks in advance


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