“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs,” (anon)
Most entrepreneurs looking back to when they first went into business tend to cringe with embarrassment. “If I only knew then what I know now”, they say, wistfully, “I’d be making twice what I make now, I’d reach more customers, and my business would be more streamlined, efficient, and secure. I don’t know how I ever made it this far!”
Not any more. If you haven’t paid a visit to MAQTOOB, the app discovery platform launched in July where techies provide the latest and best business tools for non techie founders, then you have only yourself to blame! New apps are being added all the time through one of three channels; either researched and curated by the MAQTOOB team, submitted by the app’s creators, or uploaded by existing users who want to share their most helpful discoveries with others.
Kristyna Zapletalova is the brains behind MAQTOOB; an ex-copywriter and editor whose recommendations about which apps to use to kick-start your business became so popular she decided to found her own start-up, leaving The Lebanon for London, via Marrakech and Bali, and enrolling on the Oxygen accelerator at Google Campus, in the “Silicon Roundabout”.
“I was writing for a local internet magazine, and I never thought about starting my own company at that point”, she admits, “but when I saw how many hits the site was getting, I started to drill down a bit and I realised everybody came to the site to see what apps I was recommending. I thought, I need to move quickly now because this is a unique space which can make a real difference to the way entrepreneurs get started”.
“Most importantly, MAQTOOB helps create opportunities for those who may not have considered themselves to be entrepreneur material. As a society we tend to see entrepreneurs as white males, typically in their mid-twenties, who have been to the right schools and colleges and who have access to the best information. MAQTOOB levels the playing field and helps to break down barriers around exclusivity and privilege.”
The thinking behind MAQTOOB (amazing, catchy name!) is simple, original and effective. To build a business properly you have to have the right equipment, but if you are bootstrapping, like most start-ups are, you are going to be short of cash, and short on time. You want to be working on your core business offering, but unless you get the foundations right, you are going to have problems. Think about it, would you try and climb Mount Everest in your shirt and jeans, or would you get kitted out properly first?
MAQTOOB curates tools for most kinds of business, shows you what other founders are using, lets you recommend your own products and services, and its completely free to use. So far so good. I write a blog, so I searched for blogging tools. I found 65 tools, and I’m now using 3 of them. That’s why you can rate my website (Rating-Widget), why I can blog from my Ipad (Blogsy), and why I will shortly be releasing my bloggy manifesto using Haiku Deck; look out Matt Mullenweg, it’s going to be a world beater!
Now that I am registered on MAQTOOB and I have uploaded my profile I can tell people which apps I use, and I can rate them too. I can follow other people and see which tools they are using, and I can search for apps by category, name, or visit the promo page for the latest deals on paid for apps. It’s very easy…I can even upload and recommend my own tools. Twitter is ok, you may have heard of it…?
MAQTOOB has already passed 20,000 active visitors, each one using or adding to a library of over 1,000 business tools. Kristyna sees it very much as a social enterprise, helping unemployed, inexperienced or unlikely founders with big ideas to get to grips with the technical side of creating a business. “Different age groups, genders, or people from emerging societies shouldn’t be disadvantaged because they possess a lower level of IT skills”, she explains, “good ideas are the currency we work with, not privilege or status.”
Let’s say you have something to sell, but you don’t know how to create an ecommerce site. Search for “sales” on MAQTOOB and find 61 tools to help you build one. If you can’t decide which one to use, use the ratings system to see what other people think! MAQTOOB has the potential to help even the most computer illiterate businessmen or women. And thank goodness for that, because ideas people are rarely the technical ones.
There is nothing else out there like MAQTOOB right now. We can use online to do our Christmas shopping, book our holidays, read about inspiring stuff, even feed and clothe ourselves, now we can build our businesses online too. The Holy Grail!
For the uninitiated, discussing development tools with a community of business people is infinitely preferable to discussing with a community of developers. Why? Developers can be a bit geeky; every time I hear them talk about C++, or Meta, or beta, or PYTHON, I start to feel a panic attack coming on! MAQTOOB helps to demystify how good app developers really work, and why their products are so useful to start-up companies.
So long as developers keep developing, however, MAQTOOB will be the well-stocked supermarket of start-ups, the Ikea of entrepreneurship, the Harrods of the handy and easy-to-use! So bring your virtual trolley, your business brain, and load up on the stuff you thought you’d never master. Try Kristyna’s Essential Start-up toolbox, or Guy Kawasaki’s Top 5 business apps (great to see cyber-celebs involved), or 4 Dead simple apps that will transform your inbox.
That’s it in a nutshell. Dead simple. Thanks to MAQTOOB. Keep believing.