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Top Five Free Communication Tools For Startups

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Top Five Free Communication Tools For Startups, Startup Stories, Communication Tools,Best Communication Tools 2021, Best Communication Tools for Business, Best Team Communication Tools, Real Time Communication Tool, Communication Tools for Workplace, business communication tools, latest communication tools


In one of our previous articles published recently, we broached the importance of communications both internal and external, for startups.  Good communication needs to be nurtured and can become a powerful tool.  While communication can be done across various mediums like social media, e-mails, blog posts, newsletters, press releases and advertisements there are certain tools which a majority of startups prefer to use.  This is because, some of these tools offer a lot of features, a good user interface and experience combined with value for money.

We have explored and compiled a list of top five free communication tools which will be useful for startups.  Some of these tools are easily recognisable as we use them to some degree or the other in our day to day lives.

1) Slack

Slack is a communications platform designed specifically for businesses.  Slack is a simple interface which comes in the form of chat rooms.  Each of these rooms are organised by topics and can be private or public.  Slack also offers private messaging and is a good bet for startups which are just scaling up as they offer a free plan as well.  The free plan however allows only the 10,000 most recent messages to be viewed and searched.

2) Trello

Trello is another communications tool which is highly preferred because it has a Kanban style approach towards communication.  Kanban is a lean method to manage and improve work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of bottlenecks.  A Kanban Board is used to implement Kanban management.  Users can create task boards which have columns including task statuses such as ‘To Do,’ ‘In Progress,’ ‘Done.’  For startups Trello offers a free fourteen day trial which includes unlimited boards, automation and strong privacy.

3) Microsoft Teams

This communications tool is an offering from Microsoft and offers workspace chat and video conferencing, file storage, and application integration.  Users can chat in groups or privately and even send files across the platform.  It also includes video and voice calling over the internet.  For the free version, Microsoft Teams offers users to host unlimited rooms for 60 minutes and hosting upto hundred participants.  Moreover, users get ten gigabytes of free cloud storage and unlimited chat options.

ALSO READ: Importance Of Communications For A Startup

4) Zoom

Zoom, a video conferencing tool which shot into the limelight in 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This tool allowed businesses to move their work online and ensured workflow was not disturbed.  Zoom stepped up to the challenge effortlessly taking on all the bandwidth and usage it is currently experiencing.  Zoom has also removed time limits for the conference calls and made the entire suite free of cost for schools and businesses in the affected regions across the globe, thereby further increasing its popularity.  The free trial allows users to host rooms with upto 100 participants and unlimited one on one meetings, as well as group minute meetings for upto 40 minutes.

5) Skype

Skype is another offering from Microsoft and is one of the oldest known online communications platforms.  It supports text, audio, and video chat and integrates with Microsoft Office components like powerpoint.  Skype is a free to use communications platform and can be used across a variety of platforms like mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

This concludes the list of top five free communications platforms available in the market for startups and medium sized businesses.  Let us know if you are already using any of these or plan on using them in the future in the comments below.

 

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From Unicorn To Bankruptcy; Knotel Bears The Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic

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Unicorn To Bankruptcy, Knotel Bears Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic,COVID-19 Pandemic, Startup Stories, Public Health Emergency, Startup Knotel, American property technology, flexible workspace, unicorn, Bankruptcy, Startup Business Latest News 2021

It is no secret that in the fast paced world of startups, fortunes can change at the snap of fingers.  Sometimes startups tend to scale so quickly that they become unicorns and sometimes the fortunes reverse so quickly that a startup can immediately go bankrupt from being a unicorn.  The latter was the case for an American property technology startup Knotel, who are now bankrupt due to the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Knotel is a property technology company quite similar to WeWork.  Knotel designed, built and ran custom headquarters for companies which It manages the spaces with ‘flexible’ terms.  Knotel does a mix of direct leases and revenue sharing deals.  Knotel marketed its offering as ‘headquarters as a service’ or a flexible office space which could be customized for each tenant while also growing or shrinking as needed. For the revenue-share agreements, Knotel solicits clients, builds out offices, and manages properties, and shares the rent paid to it by the client with the landlord.  This model is the majority revenue generator for Knotel.

In March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its economic destruction on the world, Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion.  What is even more interesting is Knotel raised $ 400 million in Series C funding in August 2019 which led to its unicorn status.  However, with the COVId-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdowns and curfews by various governments across the world, startups and businesses shifted to a remote working model.  This in turn led to startups pulling out of Knotel properties to cut down on working costs.  

ALSO READ: Quibi : Startup With A Billion Dollar Launch To Shutting Down All In Six Months

In late March 2020, according to Forbes, Knotel laid off 30% of its workforce and furloughed another 20%, due to the impact of the coronavirus.  It was at this point that Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion.  The company had started the year with about 500 employees.  By the third week of March,Knotel had a headcount of 400.  With the cuts, about 200 employees remained with the other 200 having either lost their jobs or on unpaid leave, according to Forbes. 

In 2021, Knotel filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its assets to Newmark, one of their investors for a total of $ 70 million dollars.  As work culture is still undergoing changes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many companies realising that remote work model saves costs and improves work efficiency, the flexible workspace sector would continue to face challenges.  Knotel is just the tip of the iceberg and is a warning call for the flexible working spaces industry.

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5 Reasons Why Telegram Founder Pavel Durov Thinks Whatsapp Is Dangerous

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Whatsapp found itself in the midst of a public relations nightmare over its latest privacy policy update.  Data privacy is currently a widely debated topic worldwide and Whatsapp has found itself in the midst of this debate time and again.  However the latest update seems to have irked a lot of people enough for them to make the shift to Telegram and the much recent app, Signal.  Telegram Messenger was launched in 2013 and although it is not as well known as Whatsapp, it enjoys quite an amount of popularity owing to its data security and encryption.

Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram Messenger, is no fan of Whatsapp and he believes Whatsapp is dangerous and not safe.  Elucidating more on the topic, Durov made his reasons known in a blogpost he published in late 2020.  Here are the five reasons why Pavel Durov thinks Whatsapp is dangerous.

1) If Jeff Bezos’ phone can be hacked via Whatsapp then nobody is safe.

One of the richest men in the world and the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos’ phone was allegedly hacked by Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.  Some of Bezos’s private communications and images were taken during the hack following which Whatsapp’s security was questioned.

2) The United Nations recommends its officials to remove Whatsapp from their devices

The United Nations recommends its officials to not use Whatsapp because it thinks Whatsapp is not a secure mode of communication.  In June 2019, a U.N., spokesman Farhan Haq said, “The senior officials at the U.N. have been instructed not to use WhatsApp, it’s not supported as a secure mechanism (sic.)”  This directive came when independent U.N. experts found a possible involvement of Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, in the alleged cyber attack of Jeff Bexos’ phone in 2018.

3) End to end encryption does not guarantee security.

Durov says “in their marketing, WhatsApp uses the words “end-to-end encryption” as some magic incantation that alone is supposed to automatically make all communications secure. However, this technology is not a silver bullet that can guarantee you absolute privacy by itself (sic.)”

ALSO READ: Users Flock To Signal Messaging App After Whatsapp’s Latest Privacy Policy Update

4) Chat backups on Android and Apple cloud are not encrypted.

Pavel Durov does not believe chat backups in the cloud are safe and says “Users don’t want to lose their chats when they change devices, so they back up the chats in services like iCloud – often without realizing their backups are not encrypted.  The fact that Apple was forced by the FBI to abandon encryption plans for iCloud is telling (sic.)”

5) Backdoors continue to exist in Whatsapp

“There are backdoors.  Enforcement agencies are not too happy with encryption, forcing app developers to secretly plant vulnerabilities in their apps.  I know that because we’ve been approached by some of them – and refused to cooperate.  As a result, Telegram is banned in some countries where WhatsApp has no issues with authorities, most suspiciously in Russia and Iran (sic,)” claims Durov in his blogpost.

As data privacy is becoming more and more important in the current day and age of the internet, we wonder what messaging application is totally safe.  

 

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5 Warning Signs For A Startup To Avoid Failure

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A startup can go on for months without paying attention to some warning signs which indicate imminent failure.  The startup journey would be smooth until suddenly problems keep popping up one after the other.  Founders will scramble to plug the holes in their startup which would often lead to a diversion of their energies to the problem rather than steering the startup towards their vision.  Sometimes, the problems would not even come to light until and after a startup goes bust.  While the warning signs are there, they often tend to be ignored till it is too late.  However, looking for these signs and making a conscious effort to address them would definitely course correct a startup for good.

Here are the five warning signs for a startup to avoid failure

1) Unable to define customer needs

A startup always needs to be aware of the needs of their customers as well as understand these needs keep changing from time to time.  Clients are the key to a successful startup even more important than investors.  Addressing customer complaints and listening to feedback is highly important and needs to be followed through even though some of the feedback could be highly negative.  

2) Failure to pivot

A startup could be doing great things and scaling up rapidly but can still go under if it does not adapt to the changing demands and technology.  A business model or a product which is working now does not mean it would work forever.  This has been the hubris for many well known startups and startups which successfully pivoted have thrived.  For instance Blockbuster, the video rental chain was one of the biggest companies in the United States of America before they closed shop due to the arrival of Netflix.  The online streaming platform offered Blockbuster an opportunity to acquire them and adapt their model but Blockbuster declined and the rest is history.

3) Not accounting for market forces

The market is a special place which could teach a lot of things to a startup about pricing, demand and supply, sales, management and so on.  While things might be sailing smoothly for the time being, startups need to have contingency plans for scenarios which might happen in the future.  Forecasting needs to be done for at least a year to ensure smooth flow of operations.  The recent COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example as a lot of startups were completely blindsided.  While the situation could be termed as an act of god, some startups have put away some funds for use exactly for times like these.  Another example would be UberEats in India, which did not account for a saturated market in food delivery which is ruled by Zomato and Swiggy.  This led to them having to sell the business to Zomato.

ALSO READ: What Is Organisational Development And Why Is It Important

4) Mistimed products

While a startup can come up with a game changing idea, releasing it into the market should be a calculated affair.  There is a risk of the product not being accepted widely in the market even though the technology and the idea behind it is ages ahead of its time.  This has led to many products to fail miserably only to have another player taste success with the same idea.  Famous examples of failures and success respectively include Orkut and Facebook, Meru and Ola, Foodpanda and Zomato, Blackberry messenger and Whatsapp.

5) Running out of cash

Working capital management is the biggest focus point for any startup as it directly impacts the survivability of a startup.  Running out of capital is one of the biggest reasons startups often fail apart from poor product fit and failed pivots.  Take the case of Hola Chef for example, a startup which connects users with chefs who cook exotic meals.  Venture capitalists loved the idea of this startup but the arrival of Zomato and Swiggy saw investors backing out of Hola Chef which ultimately led the startup to shut down and eventually be acquired by Ola backed Foodpanda.

If you can locate any of these warning signs, you could better adjust the course of your startup to navigate choppy markets and to mitigate those risks on the road to survival and growth.

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