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The 32 tools this Aussie founder uses to build her Silicon Valley startup – StartupSmart

By Holly Cardew

Over the past year I have used hundreds of tools while building Pixc.

Here are some of the best ones that helped me to create my startup:



  • Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. I use it when I am making lists of investors/advisors/mentors to contact and need to move them along to another list (E.g.: To be contacted, to another list ‘contacted’ / ‘follow up’ etc.). Other people use it as their everyday task list.


  • Asana is my favourite task tool. You can create detailed task lists for projects with your team. I highly recommend it. It is free too for up to 15 members.

Google Drive

  • This is so handy to work on collaborative documents with the team. No need to save and update / sync the latest files. I use presentations, spreadsheets and word docs for our team.


  • I have a distributed team, as well as customers in over 200 different cities. Whatsapp is a great way to instantly message anyone in the world for free.

Marketing, social, growth and distribution


  • Need to schedule a lot of social media posts across all different platforms? Use Buffer. You can also schedule pins to Pinterest now.

  • Get rewarded for sharing other people’s content and posts.

Growth Geeks

  • Need some growth experiments done? Hire a growth geek.
    I have used Growth Geeks for a few tasks and there are some great people on it, but there are also others that are clearly just outsourcing the work. The quality has varied over time.


  • Beautiful stock images (that don’t look ‘stock-y’) to get your website started. Images from only $10.


  • Free stock images — they have a great range


  • This is the latest software that I have been using as a sales tool to contact potential customers. Even though they have raised $2 million it still needs a bit of work but I am looking forward to seeing what they do.

  • I have only tried for a limited period of time and it wasn’t for us but it looks fantastic for sales teams. They also produce great videosto help you.


  • Grow your Instagram fan base (with real fans). Try it for yourself and you will know what I mean after three days.


  • Again another favourite. Intercom is essentially a CRM and live chat tool in one. Once it has been integrated with your site, as a non-technical person, I can build out email funnels to get in touch with leads and customers. I can see how many times they have been on the site, placed an order and send them targeted messages.


Upwork and Freelancer

  • A great if you need a task done and don’t have the time to do it.


  • Get your PR done via PressFriendly as a monthly service. I have just signed up so I will let you know how it goes.


  • Product image editing and optimisation for your eCommerce store – yes I am biased


  • Being busy, I found that I started getting lazy and reaching for the closest snack. In San Francisco, this is usually a pastry, cookie or muffin at the closest coffee shop.
    So, yes, I outsource my shopping when I stay at the office until 10pm and need my groceries delivered. I have no excuse not to be healthy.

Product & Development


  • moqups allows you to quickly sketch up wireframes for your website or landing page layout which you can then easily pass to a designer.


  • I have only recently started working with a product manager. Previous to this, I was the product manager and I would spec everything out in a word document and in moqups. Now, we use Invision which allows everyone to add comments on the wireframes and design. We are definitely more efficient.

Logos and design


  • Need a logo? Throw it up on 99Designs, run a contest and see what you get back.

Creative Market

  • A marketplace full of fonts, graphics, icons, Photoshop brushes and more


  • Envato is a collection of multiple websites and tools but my favourite is ThemeForestwhere you can get all these themes you want to start a website. If you are bootstrapping your company, I definitely would not design something from scratch.



  •  Actually it is not that common in Australia to use LinkedIn however it sure is the best way to network and keep in touch with everyone around the world.


  • If you haven’t already, create an AngelList profile for you and your company. This is the best way to recruit and connect with investors.

Founder’s Network

  • I am part of a small members-only network in San Francisco which allows me to build close and honest relationships with other founders. I think when you are building a company, this is really important.


  • Use MeetUp to attend events that you are interested in. Be careful that you don’t get caught up attending any oldevent if you are busy building a company – this will suck up your time.

500 Brunches

  • Go to brunch with a group of people that has been carefully curated. This is a great way to meet other people in San Francisco.


  • Think Tinder meets LinkedIn. Swipe right or left to meet people in your industry. I have met all sorts of people from marketing, growth, technical, to artists.

Other — startup life related


  • Keep fit while you are working at home from your desk.

Uber / Lyft

  • I could not live without Uber and Lyft. You can get anywhere you need at the tap of your phone.


  • The best offline tool of them all. I bought a NutriBullet and I blend everything


  • Getaround is peer-to-peer car rental which I use when I want to drive beyond San Francisco. The app allows you to book within five minutes and unlock the car with your phone.

I will be adding to this list as I continue to build my company so let me know if there is anything I should try — I’m always looking for new cool tools to use.

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