The End of the Beginning

Why we ended our Massachusetts LLC

UpRating.com coffee mugAlex and I have decided that we would share our story in an effort to help those who are considering starting their own company. We have taken some interesting twists and turns on our way to where we are now.

Forming The Company
It all started when Alex contacted me to discuss the possibility of working on a website for him and his friend/business partner. After a few meetings with the three of us, we decided that this was something we wanted to move forward with. The next step was to work out the paperwork in order to have things in writing.

Just the Two of Us
After a few months of working together as a partnership of three people, it was obvious that things just weren’t working out. The interpretation of the product was very different between who you talked to which made it hard for us to agree on anything. Our final meeting was very intense and involved some yelling. We decided that night to move on.

To mark the new change, we decided to change our name to Simplex Software Solutions, LLC. Along with the name change came our in-depth Operating Agreement so we would have everything set up if we decided to split off again. This document was huge in establishing our overall mission and how we wanted to go about achieving success. The most important part is that we had many rules in place for making any decision that could impact the company.

No Money, No Success
Our goal for the summer of 2011 was the standard boring, by the book approach. We formed a long business plan using all the fancy business wording and exaggerated statistics. Alex then used his connections to get some meetings with potential Angel and Venture Capital investors. These meetings were terribly painful and they were a huge waste of everyone’s time. It was a very frustrating time for Alex and myself since we were doing everything the books tell us to do. Just goes to show, don’t follow the book.

New Concept
After a brief hiatus, we decided to meet in January of 2012 to deal with ending the business. We had a long discussion and proved to each other that we really like working together and maybe our approach was what stopped us last time. We made the decision to start with a new idea that I was trying to figure out. That concept was a better way to approach product search and comparison.

Success!
We are seeing our community grow at a rapid pace as people are discovering our content. We have had a lot of success with collaborations and have started very strong relationships with experts in various fields.

Our success has allowed us to bring on Bridget Germain as an editor and collaborator. We have had a great experience with the addition of Bridget, and we are looking to expand with more frequent contributors. If you would like to contribute, please contact us [here].

To cap it all off we had an article published about us in the Framingham State University Alumni Magazine which is Alex’s alma mater. It is an honor for a publication to take an interest in what we are doing.

Ending the Business
We recently had our two year anniversary of forming our Massachusetts Limited Liability Company in early April. We celebrated with a notification from the state informing us that we needed to submit an Annual Report which comes with a $500 filing fee. That was when we took some time to really decide what our goals were. We filed to end the company on April 1st, 2013.

Since we had no capital or profit, this was an easier choice than we thought. This choice allows us to worry about our product and not how to turn a profit. Our focus is now to help our community make the best decisions they can.

Stronger Than Ever
We are still very active with UpRating.com and have big plans for its future. We are currently working on new features to go along with a lot more new content. We have been working with a wide range of people with expertise in technology and fitness in order to better our community. We look forward to bringing high-quality content from very knowledgeable people.

We are also developing a second website with the goal of helping others through charity. This is a project that we strongly believe in.

Our Advice to You
1) Don’t form a business until someone gives you money
2) Don’t get caught up in an elaborate Business Plan – Everyone’s product changes from business plan to the final product.
3) Don’t wait for perfection – Test small parts of your concept with everyone you know. Waiting for the complete product can take time and also result in a product that really turns off the consumers. Feedback is the most important part of a startup.
4) Use your network – Your network is a lot larger than you think. They also have incredible connections and you never know who you will be able to reach.
5) Collaborate with others – This is a great way to share your product with a new audience.
6) Stick to your morals – This is important for the people you hire, the concept development, and any contract you sign with investors. Know when to walk away.
7) Don’t chase the money – Money isn’t what defines success in a startup. You can get millions of dollars in capital and still fail miserably.
8) Only do what you love – The day you lose your passion is the day you need to consider if this business is for you.
9) Don’t be the “idea person” – Not contributing or being a silent partner rarely works out in an early startup. Don’t be in it just to collect the money.
10) Finish what you start – Don’t give up on your project. You will learn more about yourself by sticking with it even if it doesn’t result in money.

Tablets for Business

Why it Makes Sense

Tablets for BusinessTablets make great productivity gadget. Aside from being able to play games, watch videos, and listen to music, there is a multitude of social networking opportunities out there to connect you to everyone on the internet. Tablets may appear to be the new way to procrastinate, but we seem to be forgetting all the practical uses. The business environment is actually where these devices can shine.

For our business, we chose the Apple iPad. We found that the iPad is a useful mobile business tool for many reasons. The operating system provides many features and makes it easy to synchronize all your personal information, like calendars, contacts, tasks, and email. Manually consolidating all your personal information from one device to another device is a thing of the past. Aside from synchronizing your personal information, there are many apps that allow you to share and collaborate documents, spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations. With the combination of the Apple iOS features and the many business apps on the market, the iPad is an extremely productive tool.

Collaboration

In every business, there are times when several people will be working on a single project. In the past, this meant each individual’s numerous revisions and edits would all have to be consolidated into a final document. Now, with programs like Dropbox and Google Drive, many people can work on the same document and see the changes in real-time, providing one collaborative document instead of a multitude of revised versions. This can be done with word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, drawings, and even templates, and they can be shared with any number of people.

Tablets are perfect for traveling since you can easily hold meetings—including video conferencing—through a variety of apps and collaborate on projects in real-time. In extreme cases, you can even access your full desktop using a remote access app, such as LogMeIn, for the few things that you can’t use the cloud for. Aside from being able to access your private files, there are geo-location apps that can be very useful in finding places, people, and even events in your area. I personally find it most effective when trying to find food on the go, but most businesses are listed to make it easy to find anything you might need.

Business Operation on the Go

A tablet is great for someone on the go, such as a business owner or manager. There are many business apps that can be used for overall management of a physical business. For example, there are security apps that allow you to monitor all live feeds of security cameras, see access logs of who entered and exited the building, and even control door locks and lights. Now companies are even beginning to get involved with payment services that integrate with PayPal or credit cards.

Another great feature is the ability to accept credit cards on the go. For a small percentage per swipe, you can add the convenience of credit cards and get paid instantly regardless of what type of business you run.

Portability

Tablets are far easier to transport than laptops or desktops due to their compact size. When you need to use a tablet there is no startup or login process necessary, whereas laptops always need to load the operating system unless they are already in sleep or standby. Its size and ease of use make it ideal to use while on the go—have you ever tried to use a laptop while walking? Also, instead of needing a bag to carry a laptop, most people only need a case for their tablet.

Can I Replace all of my Computers?

Tablets are the most effective when they are used on the go or for when you will be moving from meeting to meeting; it would be inconvenient to constantly pack and unpack a workstation. However, if you plan to work in one place for any more than two hours, it may be easier to use a laptop. This is simply because the access to a full keyboard and a mouse allow for faster typing and user input. It is possible to get a full keyboard for a tablet, but some might argue it is still not as convenient as having a computer. Other situations where a tablet would not suffice would include situations where you are using accessories requiring USB, SATA[?], or a video output port. Occasionally there are workarounds so that you can still use a tablet for these situations.

Personally, I believe that most business professionals will require a desktop or laptop computer. Oftentimes I find my multi-tasking capabilities on a tablet are limited compared to using a computer because I like to have multiple things displayed on the same screen.

Apps and Features We Suggest:

1) Dropbox (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac) – Store any documents that you want access to. Share folders with others for collaboration.

2) Google Drive (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac) – Perfect for writing up new documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. Any document created within Google Drive does not count against your 5GB allotment!

3) Kindle (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac) – Read all of your PDFs and kindle books or documents from anywhere. Great for reducing textbook cost.

4) PhotoStream (iOS6) – Share photos and images with people privately.

Great Resources:

1) Apple – iPad at Work
2) Inc. – Should you Buy or Lease Computer Equipment for your Business?