ICYMI: Startup Founders Describe Critical Role of Digital Tools in Entrepreneurship

Advice from startup founders at a virtual event hosted by the CCIA Research Center and Engine highlighted the critical role of free and low-cost digital tools in the startup ecosystem, reinforcing the findings of a new CCIA-Engine study that found 100% of startups surveyed for Running their business relies on affordable digital tools and services. Most importantly, founders expressed concern that if free and low-cost digital tools are not available to startups as a result of pending legislation that may force larger companies to structurally unbundle integrated services and drive up service costs, startups like those without large amounts of seed. Capital can never bring innovative ideas to market.

The live event featured startup founders Sedale Turbovsky (OpenGrants), Joshe Ordonez (Airpals) and Patrick Utz (Abstract) as panelists, while Nathan Lindfors (Engine) moderated.

The founders described their experiences building businesses from the ground up and ways in which free and low-cost digital tools and services combined their investment with the basic infrastructure necessary to implement business models, gain attention and They explained how to get customers.

When asked about the implications of a just-released report, which concluded that costly or prescriptive regulations against leading digital service providers could cost startups $3,000 per employee annually, panelists pointed to the following potential implications:

Patrick Oates (Co-founder and CEO, abstract):

“It was practically impossible [to start a business]… We started Abstract as an engineering thesis project out of college, so we didn’t really have any money to invest in anything. The fact that all the tools we initially used to design the code and build the first prototype were all free… If it wasn’t free, at least initially, we would never have built anything.

We didn’t raise venture capital funds until we had a product with people using it. “If it wasn’t for the early free trials of cloud hosting tools, messaging, etc., we would never have a product with people using it.”

Joseh Ordonez (Founder and CEO, Airpals):

“[Free digital tools] Make mistakes as cheaply as possible, and as you validate the idea and product with paying customers—because you need people with skin in the game—get their feedback, because feedback is free.

Sedal Torbovsky (Founder and CEO, OpenGrants):

“…if you have fewer people building solutions and solving problems, you’re not going to improve as much and you’re probably going to miss out on some really incredible innovation.”

I think to the extent that we can continue to lower barriers to access, we will see better solutions. We will do things like feed the world and solve climate change. And if we start tracking in the other direction, things get awful and worse, and we don’t fix things.”

Watch the full event here and check out the full report: “Tools of Competition: Lower Costs, More Resources, and Tech Ecosystem Coexistence.”


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