The Best Free or Low-Cost Tech Tools for Startup Founders

Stella Guan
17 min readOct 25, 2022

How I learned to be relentlessly resourceful as a bootstrap founder

Last summer, I was cold-emailed by a PR firm in New York that claimed to represent a major news media outlet. The “offer” they presented was an opportunity to be featured by said media in “prominent placement” and “in perpetuity” for the bargain price of $8,000.

I was rounding the corner on course development for my design school, Path Unbound when I received this email. Although I was nowhere near ready to launch, I was tempted.

Path Unbound website homepage
Our school’s new homepage

After all, it’s a media outlet that everybody has heard of. The presumed SEO “juice” would be tremendous in boosting my company’s search ranking, or so I thought.

However, 8k is still a big number for a small startup, especially a bootstrap one that’s yet to generate meaningful revenue.

Something didn’t quite sit well with me. That’s when I started to ask around my network and posted my questions on SEO-related Facebook groups.

After confirming the legitimacy of the PR firm by asking my friends working in the media industry in New York, I wanted to see if the return on investment is proportionate to the amount of money they required.



Stella Guan

Digital nomad designer and entrepreneur between the US, Europe & Asia | CEO of Path Unbound, UI/UX design school | |