DIY Resources for Your Startup

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When I started my first technology company back in 1997 there was precious little in the way of DIY help. Essentially, I had to learn to markup html and build my own website from scratch. It took forever, and to this day I still hate html (and I still on occasion have to do markup <shudder>).

But today, all that has changed, thanks to all the other fantastic technology startups out there. Today I’m pretty sure anything I want to do, I can find a quick, easy, and likely free way to DIY it just a Google-search away. I’ve gathered some of my most recent finds below. Please add yours to the list.

Easily Build Your Own Website

Okay, so maybe you’re not a technology startup–you’re an ecommerce startup. Or your moving your eBay storefront onto its own site. Or you’ve got some other great non-tech oriented business but it requires a semi-professional website anyway. And web developers are expensive! Upwards of $90hr or more. There are plenty of alternatives that don’t require you learn to use Dreamweaver or get stuck with a horrible Network Solutions template.


Sign up, pay a monthly fee, and have access to their flexible templates for creating your website. Easy-peasey! You can even import all your content from Tumblr or WordPress, and create a simple ecommerce application too. All the templates are responsive, so they will look good on everything from a giant desktop monitor to a smart phone.


So, maybe you are a tech company, but websites are just not your thing. Yeah, you can try to make sure your first hire is a full-stack developer who also loves coding websites. Good luck with that. But if you’ve got basic html chops and access to DreamWeaver, then you can buy a great template and customize it! Theme Forest has thousands of really beautiful website, most of them responsive, and all of them easy to customize. My consulting site, is from theme forest. Best $15 I ever spent!


And if you really just want to get a handle on how the website you have works (or WordPress, or social media) you can take fun online classes at DIY Websites Now.

Make Your Own Explainer Video

Yes, you could spend $5-$25k on a professional studio to make your Explainer video. And I definitely recommend you have one of these if your business has anything to do with technology, innovations, or newness. I’m not saying your DIY efforts will be as elegant, sophisticated or have those glassy 3D letters like the expensive versions. But really, the goal here is to explain in 35 seconds what the heck you do. Not to win the Oscar for Explainer videos (though I’d really like to see that category at the Oscars).


This is a great DIY post about how to make the Explainer video with Keynote. I’m not saying it comes out looking like Finding Nemo, but if you’re a fan of South Park, then you’ll be cool with this method.


This site rocks! Make your own animated Explainer video in about an hour. It’s dead simple.  Drag-n-Drop animated hands writing, pictures and add a few effects and voila! You’re ready to pitch at TechCrunch.



Really promising kinetic-text style videos. Pretty-much plug-n-play, it will literally take you minutes to make the video. Just upload your logo and message text in a pre-formated animation template. Record a voice over (I recommend you hire your out-of-work actress friend, who will sound much better than you) and export the video. All for just $75 cool buck. Okay, so right now they only have two templates, but by the time you’ve got your sh*t together and are ready to do this, there will be more. Keep an eye on this cool new kid on the block.

And if you do want the Explainer Video that will win an Oscar, go to Ydraw. You’ll love them.

Cloudware to Manage Your Money

A good bookkeeper will set you back a minimum of $150 per month. If you’re at all accounting-impaired, then spend the cash. It’s worth it not to have to worry about every nickle and dime. And to know that your books are all GAAP. But if you’re really bootstrapping, there’s nothing wrong with spending $90 on Quickbooks and doing it yourself.

Here’s some other online accounting and bookkeeping cloudware that works great for startups:


I use Mint for both my personal and business accounts. In fact, I use it right along with Quickbooks, because it’s just so much easier! The UI is worlds better and there are features easily discovered in Mint that it may take you years to find in Quickbooks. If they even have them. (Why can’t I click on a checkbook entry to iTunes and then see all other checkbook entries to iTunes? I can do that in Mint.)

Bookkeeper Zoo

Although I haven’t used this, it looks pretty awesome. This is not so much DIY, and let someone else manage the mess–and it doesn’t have to be that scary lady in the rambler full of cats (oh yes, she was once my bookkeeper).


Expensify is wonderful for tracking all those damn receipts when you’re traveling to pitches and meetings with investors. With Expensify, you can snap a pic of your receipt with your phone, upload it via their app, and add it to your expense report for that trip. I don’t know how business people kept track of their expenses before Expensify. Those accordion folder thingies?

Hiring without Using a Recruiter

I am not a fan of professional recruitment firms, either from the position of the employer (waaaayy too expensive) or the employee (they’re rude, obnoxious, and make me feel like a used car). So I’ve done a little digging into alternative places to source employees. These are just a few.


The best place for hiring and monitoring freelance talent. You can post your RFP, thoroughly vette candidates, hire, monitor and pay all through their website. I love this site.


Similar to eLance, this is another site for recruiting contractors, monitoring their progress, and paying them. The nice thing about these sites is because they act as the intermediary, both the employer and the freelancer feel a bit safer about working together and getting good product and fast pay.


Surprisingly, Craigslist is pretty reliable for me in finding engineers. I found 3 of my DSP engineers via a cheap ad on Craigslist. So don’t discount the obvious.

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