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Show HN: Founderkit – Startup tool recommendations from 1,000 YC founders (founderkit.com)
331 points by ryanmickle on Jan 11, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 59 comments

Once again, a tool recommendation site that doesn't do anything different or unique than what's been done or what's out there now. This is just like BestVendor.com (site was sold a few years ago, but more of an acquihire).

There are tons of these types of review sites. http://www.stacklist.com/ https://startupresources.io/ https://stackshare.io/

And they're all pretty much the same. They're mostly just a list of tools, sorted by popularity or recommendations.

I'm sorry, but this is just not that useful for me. It still requires a ton of time to look through and research the tools. Sure, it's useful just to help start your research, but it ends there.

I've researched this space in-depth and have a solution that's different, but way more useful. I'm just too busy working on other stuff to tackle it right now.


To give you guys an idea of what I'm thinking, here is a tool comparison that is much more useful to me.


It's ONE guy that researched 5 competing prototyping tools with a specific task in mind. He lists the pros and cons of each, and goes into some detail on each one and how they performed with his particular task.

I wouldn't be copying this exact format, but the takeaway here is that it's ONE person that has researched ALL or most of the tools within a particular category, and had an actual task to accomplish, so they have a much better idea of what each does, its strengths and weaknesses. The problem with founderkit and similar sites is that the reviewers have not researched all the tools within a category, so they're only giving you their viewpoint on one tool.

If anyone is interested in my idea, let me know. I may devote some resources to it if I find the right people.

"I have a three-point throw that's different, but way more useful. I'm just too busy working on other stuff to show Steph Curry who's boss."

There's nothing helpful in your comment. At risk of being hypocritical, I'll add a piece of advice; be constructive. Telling everyone you have a genius solution that you're hogging all to yourself (but aren't acting on?) is not helpful. "Here is a way you could make this tool more helpful to people like me."

Ideas aren't valuable. If they were, there would be a marketplace for ideas, and it would be doing billions of dollars in business. It's execution that's valuable. There are 7 billion people on the planet, your idea isn't unique, so share it to be helpful to others or build it yourself, but please don't berate the hard work of others and then tell us you have something better with nothing to show for it.

I'm falling into the trap of HN negativity here, but it's so frustrating to see talented creators who are actively executing get roasted with no discernable actionable constructive criticism.

Listen - I get it, we have guttural reactions to things (especially things we have neat ideas about or know ways to do better.) I tell the people I work with to lead with a compliment, always, before criticizing and I often forget to do so myself (I didn't do so here ;)). Doesn't mean it's OK - and in an environment like HN where you actively have time to think before you hit the "reply" button, it's pretty unacceptable. We're adults. We're all trying to build things and do what we love. We can be supportive.

There's more concentrated disappointment here that's aggregated from other sources besides you, so please don't feel like this is targeted to call your comment out, specifically. Please try to be thoughtful in the future, if you can.

Edit: You updated your post, thank you. Please be kind to content creators - they're working to make things better for more people than just you, and could use your help in figuring out how to make their products appealing to you.

You're right. I realized I wasn't being very constructive in the comment, and edited it. I only saw your comment afterwards though.

No worries. I did it, too. I led with criticism followed by understanding instead of the other way around. It's hard to get ourselves out of destructive patterns. :)

This is so awesome to see polite, constructive criticism. This is why HN is awesome. I feel like I just saw a rose sprout up out of a concrete parking garage.

Even if content is no good?

It would be nice to see a review site modeled after Consumer Reports. They tend to compare, with a well defined criteria, products in a category. It's a professional unbiased review system rather than a crowdsourced low value review system.

I Was just thinking of something similar today. I was reading a blog tutorial on a tool I am unfamiliar with but want to learn. The whole time I was wondering if this author knew what he was talking about. It would be nice to have a vetted list of tutorials that could be trusted to be utilizing best practices.

This is along the lines of what I'm thinking.

I second this - it would be much more useful

Hi sixQuarks, genuinely appreciate the feedback, and the additional comments that came in here while I was writing.

In our experience, actionable feedback comes from founders who have used a product, not those who just spend a lot of time researching. That's precisely the problem with Gartner, Forrester (who basically get paid by both vendors AND buyers to make decisions for companies, with zero interest in the best tool for the job). If you want to throw darts at a product, theirs are world class targets.

While it's easy to throw darts at a handful of short reviews from founders who are so busy they can barely keep up with email, we hear from Founderkit users daily that they find tools and are able to make decisions immediately. Don't read too much into the short reviews. There's a lot more going on here.

No, I totally agree that founderkit is useful, I'm just saying it's not the tool that I personally want or need. I have a clear vision for the site I really want, and am surprised no one is doing it yet.

Spot on. It's getting tiring/old to see these sites pop up over and over. I get that it can be a fun project to work on, but it seems like too many people are working on these types of sites and hoping they'll be going concerns when the value is dubious at best. I think people need to think bigger and not avoid schleppier ideas.

I _just_ commented on the stackshare post earlier today https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13375748

How is it tiring to you? if you don't think it's useful for you - just don't open it, no need to say it's tiring...

So basically all criticism is bad?

Sites that make it easy to say "We should use this because $Cool_Company_X uses it!" are doing everyone a disservice. We have way too much of this cargo cult thinking going on. I don't know if I'm just starting to realize it more lately or if it's actually getting worse, but it's really been irking me.

When you're picking a tool to use in your software stack, use something that makes sense for you. Say "I need something that will let me do X effectively" instead of "We need to use the latest technology from the hippest news makers."

Barring a handful of nearly-universal tools, it's very unlikely that the types of things that work great for massive public companies like Facebook and Google are going to be the best options for your 1-10 man startup.

Well, I think the main thing Founderkit IS doing right is targeting the small startup.

Like Wirecutter for Saas.


I hear you - there's a lot. Seems people are motivated to build tools for founders, which is great.

When we built this, we were tired of the curated lists too. 1) They don't change as the community's barometer on what they're using changes. 2) It's one person's view, not the founder community.

The goal of founderkit is to be more than just reviews, but this was the logical place to start since nobody seems to have done it in a way where it's alive.

If you don't want to use it, no prob. Lots of people have found it useful. Maybe you will too after it's more than just reviews.

Look, I'm not saying the site isn't useful or bad per se, you guys have obviously put a lot of hard work and thought into it.

It's just that I really want to see something different being done in this space, and I'm always hopeful when I see a new site tackling this, only to then be disappointed with the same old same old.

Take what I'm saying as constructive criticism. I know it's hard when you've worked so hard at something, and the first thing you see is criticism (trust me, I've been there).

But to your point, you say those other sites don't change as the community's barometer on what they're using changes, and it's one person's view, not the founder community. But this is exactly what BestVendor was doing. Their tagline was "Learn About The Best Tools From The Best Entrepreneurs"

Check out the internet archive: http://web.archive.org/web/20130412003037/http://www.bestven...

I was saying that all the examples you provided were of curated lists from one person/org. I personally would rather listen to a community of peers than of a single person's opinion.

Not sure what happened to bestvendor but they're clearly offline now. Another reason why we need a community driven product.

I'm biased but we found that it's so incredibly rare that a single person has extensive experience with all the options, esp when it comes to electronics. We went in a different direction than reviews, slightly more collaborative:


edit: another problem with a single person owning the comparison is keeping it up to date.

Hi sixQuarks,

Really appreciate you mentioning Stacklist here. Your comment has given me a lot to think about in how we can provide value to other entrepreneurs and founders.

Would love to connect and learn more about your idea. Email me at danny@stacklist.com.

This is obviously modeled after Product Hunt with similar rating/review systems, and suffers from the same issues regarding rating/review quality. Despite the emphasis on "unbiased" reviews, the reviews/comments (example: https://founderkit.com/biz/slack) boil down to "I used it and it's good" which doesn't help anyone, and is essentially a manifestation of confirmation bias and makes the entire thing a popularity contest, not a measurement of quality.

Also, giving each tool a ranking from 1-10 when the only way to vote is Like/Neutral/Dislike is misleading.

I mean, no one is forcing you to use this product :) but I actually find the ratings to be really directionally accurate, which considers them in aggregate, and use this site all the freaking time. Yesterday I needed a decent conference calling tool, I went with the first one I found and the reliability was terrible - I know there are a million sites out there for this but good luck googling "best free conference call." One founder kit search later I jumped on uber conference and rescued the call. It didn't matter that I was using the best, most deserving startup, I just needed something that worked...

> I actually find the ratings to be really directionally accurate

That is the definition of confirmation bias.

> I know there are a million sites out there for this but good luck googling "best free conference call."

OK. https://imgur.com/a/f9JQ4

(Which more or less further supports my point of this being a popularity contest)

There's a surprising number of very insightful reviews. Founders are busy, so short reviews are still incredible signal compared to everything else out there. We're totally open to suggestions. This is a huge problem for founders, one that wastes days, weeks, or months of indecision or rework.

You say founders are busy then you say they're busy letting fairly mundane decisions on what online services to use waste days, weeks or months.

Why would someone who's burning runway like that make a good customer? It sounds like you've honed in on the failed startups and made an entertainment product for them.

How do you get a piece of their VC pie before they close up?

I hate how they force users to sign up. You need to give access to your Twitter and LinkedIn. Who knows what kind of data mining they do.

Also: dude, you already have my twitter, why do you still need my email address? Twitter already gives you that. What If I don't have a title? Why is that required?

No thanks

It only required one of the connections for me. I used twitter, which in my view, is better than Facebook and LinkedIn as far as privacy concerns.

Shockingly, YC companies are always at the top of the lists in the categories they service. Smells like a growth hack to me.

It's no secret that YC services are commonly used by YC founders, especially since founders of the big startups are often super generous with credits, to help founders just starting out. Nothing weird happening here, there are several categories where the commonly assumed best YC solution isn't #1, or even close. That made us realize we had something.

When I need a tool I check Zapier first. Why? Because I know I can easily integrate with other systems and because I get almost the full lay of the land.

That said... without knowing the size of the user base, how much cash these companies have, etc. whose to say even 1/2 of them will be around 5 years. These tools need to be used and integrated with great caution.

Is there any reason why there isn't a single security utility, aside from password managers on this list?

It seems that security is an afterthought at most startups.

People have requested it. Only now are there a handful of security service startups as opposed to good ole devops service providers.

We split categories when we get enough companies to support it. Let me know if you have a list and I'll happily get this in there, I'd love to have more security products as well.

"Beta tested and used by almost 1,000 YC founders"

Most things I have clicked on have about 10 ratings tops and one line reviews. Even as a quantitative tool it's not that useful (yet). Would be interested in seeing some stats. From a first glance I expect a correlation between number of ratings and positive ratings. At least the subcategories I clicked through all followed that pattern.

I'd also love a filter on the subpages like: https://founderkit.com/biz/optimizely where I can filter the negative feedback to the top (especially once there's a lot more data). I personally make most decisions after reading negative feedback and only roughly browsing the positive feedback.

Edit: I'd also like to read a bit more on the reasoning of the ranking. Why was this system (popularity, score, recency) picked over purely ranking on score?

I feel like reviews really need an A/B test at the very least, because someone comparing and contrasting two products gives you an idea of the relative importance of different features.

Why do I have to sign up to see the reviews?

The copy is misleading and you do not need to sign up; you can just click the link in the toolbar: https://founderkit.com/reviews

Classic antipattern. I don't really understand it: if you're willing to allow unrestricted reading, why pretend you don't? It just drives away page views.

Like ExpertsExchange "tired of scrolling?"

Signing up shows you all of the reviews. Appreciate the feedback, no deception intended.

A real problem for startups. People waste too much time on routine stuff.

I think my biggest issue with all of these things is they tend to only serve YC companies and not the multitude of other independent hackers out there outside of that pipeline. I've just stopped sharing stuff like this because it hurts the entire ecosystem long term. shrug

Hey lowglow, it actually started/was tested by YC founders, but we just onboarded several new founder networks in the weeks leading to launch, including First Round, Slow Ventures, Social Capital, Fuel Capital. There are many, many brilliant founders contributing (also note that ratings are hidden while written reviews show by whom they are posted).

Finding tools is (unfortunately) not the hard part about being a founder.

There is not enough data on review list. You need to click the product sometimes to see what it does. There should be 3-4 sentence, non-biased, non-advertisement description.

The recommendation site I wanted to have was http://stackparts.com/ (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2993371) but nothing became of it...

Maybe there are just too many options nowadays for a visualization of possible stacks to be useful.

cc @joshu

This is a great idea. I think it can be done

I liked it. In particular the categories which I think a lot of really small companies might find useful. Needs to be 40 times more users and less yc backed bias but still ok.

Application error An error occurred in the application and your page could not be served. If you are the application owner, check your logs for details.

Thanks Ravi, seems we inundated the middle tier Heroku postgres servers. Bumped up and site seems to be humming again.

Great seeding network, resulted in a much stronger signal to noise ratio. Definitely going to be using this!

Server error when I tried to register

Servers are getting slammed, try again just spooled up more.

Why do they need my email address during signup? Isn't access to my twitter account enough?

internal server error when I tried to add myself

omg!!!! Very cool. I need this.

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