As a journalist covering emerging technologies and as a Web entrepreneur with my own start-up, I am often required to test various products and services that come across my desk.
More often than not, the Web apps or services that I am asked to review are simply not addressing real pains or offering big enough improvements on existing products; others are too difficult to set up and would require adapting to new habits that neither my readers nor I would be willing to embrace.
But many are well worth investigating and in many cases, implementing promptly in your business process.
The following is a short list of my favorite four most-recently-discovered tried and true start-ups. Two of them, LocBox and User Testing are based in Silicon Valley, AppSumo is based in Austin and Yast is located in Norway, proving that start-ups can thrive everywhere.
Yast. Time waits for no one.
Yast is a deceptively simple online time tracking management platform and mobile app for individuals and team. I say deceptively because upon its initial discovery, I was questioning why I would need such a service and why it would be any better than the competition. The truth is that it has become invaluable to me. It helps me get organize all my different projects and effectively gauge the true time spent on individual tasks. As a result, I am better able to evaluate the real cost of a project, adapt accordingly proposals to new clients. Additionally, using Yast I generate reports, which I can then share with my clients. Clients appreciate the transparency and to see where and how their retainer fee is being spent. Another pleasant aspect is how small of a learning curve there was. I registered and within five minutes, I was up and running. But by far, my favorite feature is the phone tracking. Yast records and save the time spent on a phone conversation to the right project or customer, perfect for the to-the-minute invoicing. The app is available on IOS and the Android platform. The start-up is headquartered in Sogndal, Norway. It has 50,000 active users worldwide and is self-funded. Yast offers a free account with limited services and a premium for $14 per month per user. The company has received $500 k in funding from Fjord Invest, and other business angels
LocBox. Show me the love, I’ll show you the money.
LocBox. Headquartered in San Francisco, LocBox is an effective online marketing platform and e-marketing service which differentiates itself from discount sites by focusing on your existing customers, both active and inactive, instead of trying to convert deal seekers into new customers. It is a customer retention and loyalty system for local businesses. LocBox team believes that showing the love to your existing customers base with great discounts is going to result in increased business. Happy customers will speak nicely about you and are the most important marketing assets in your arsenal. By offering discounts not available to all, you reinforce your relationships. LocBox books, confirms and collects payment on your behalf, all you have to do is fill in a form, tell your story and share the good news.You can also connect your Facebook Fan Page to your LocBox merchant account. The first trial is free. Once your trial is over,