Top 10 gifts for entrepreneurs

Matt Bowman · December 15, 2009 · Short URL:

10 productivity tools to stuff the stocking of your special Type-A overachiever

 What do you get the person who wants it all, and has no time for fun? Entrepreneurs are by nature hard to please, but these productivity tools just might just do the trick. This year, a blossoming of App stores and SaaS companies means there are plenty new products in the time-saver and ROI-booster aisles. If there’s a special startup owner in your life, you might try giving him or her one of the following gifts. If it falls flat, remember that rapid iteration is key.

Not all of these can actually be purchased on behalf of someone else, so you might need to make a creative gift card… or hack into your entrepreneurs’ accounts.

1) One-year membership to Jigsaw. With instant access to millions of complete business contacts, Jigsaw is an efficient way to get the digits of big-deal decision-makers, and grow marketing and sales lists. Beats digging around company websites, and crowd-sources the database to keep contact info up-to-date. Its point system for updating other people’s contact info also provides a way to milk value from your own database. A year’s supply of 350 contacts costs $250.

2) Backblaze subscription. Unlimited online data backup for one computer that is super easy to use. Military-grad security keeps your data locked up remotely, so when your laptop gets crunched or stolen, you’re all good. Don’t tell your recipient it just cost $5/ month.

3) Plan. Simple online private sharing and real-time collaboration for the business team. For $19 / month, in addition to the free ability to create file links accessible via the web, email, phone, fax, and widgets, you get custom branding and templates, central management, and an activity stream to see who accessed what when. Perfect for the virtual office.

4) Business card reader. So many entrepreneurs still don’t use a card reader, that the collective time wasted typing in biz cards to address books probably reaches a few milliennia. Save a few lifetimes; buy a biz card reader. The Business Card Reader iPhone App ($6) is the top paid business app, but this isn’t the best solution if you’ve got a ton of cards to process—in that case go with a physical device and delegate the digitization.

5) Ambiance iPhone App. This does one simple thing: provides background noise to help you sleep or focus. Listen to an Alabama garden, Pacific snowstorm, or crowded bowling alley while you work at the coffee shop. One of my personal favorite apps. For $0.99, you’ll help that type-A relax for the rest of his or her life.

6) SocialOomph service. The proliferation of social tools has catalyzed a milgnant matasticization of social obligations. Time your status updates, outsource Twitter follower growth, identify the most important interactions to have… optimize your “professional social life” under control with Social Oomph.

8) Credit on Crowdflower. Mundane tasks can be a waste of time not only for entrepreneurs, but for their team members. Get those dead-simple but time-consuming, someone’s-gotta-do-it tasks outsourced on the cheap using Labor-as-a-service startup CrowdFlower. You’ll need to create an account and add some credit to get your entrepreneur started.

9) Infodome subscription. One of the biggest pain-points for small business is the collaborative virtual database—how do you get even the less-tech savvy people on your team using it, but without screwing things up? There are no good free solutions, and entrusting a startup-that-might-not-make-it with your database can make an entrepreneur feel a little queezy. Infodome just raised funding, has been building their product in stealth for the last two years, and has an intuitive interface. Get him started with a $20/month subscription.

10) WifiTrack iPhone App. How many times is an entrepreneur in some unfamiliar neighborhood after a biz meeting and in need of Wifi? This app pinpoints the free hubs in your area. Simple and the one-time $0.99 beats a $50 / month data plan. 7) Phone conferencing service. Phone conferences are essential for business, it’s often too tempting to go with a “free” conferencing services—but those are such a hassle either by limiting particpants, forcing cumbersome sign-ups, or yielding spam calls that the catch is often not worth the “free.” Your entrepeneur probably can’t bear the thought of paying for this, so you’ll need to buy it for him / her. Here’s a decent subscription plan.

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Backblaze provides an online backup service that US News called "The simplest way yet to backup."


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Jigsaw is the industry leader in Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) and business contact information, uniquely leveraging content from its global B2B community. Jigsaw provides salespeople, marketers, and recruiters access to millions of business contacts and company profiles. Every contact is complete with a phone number (70%+ direct dial), position, email, and mailing address. Founded in 2004, Jigsaw is located in San Mateo, Calif. and funded by Austin Ventures, El Dorado Ventures, and Norwest Venture Partners.

Update: Jigsaw was acquired by Salesforce in 2010 for $175 million.