The End of the Beginning

Jeff Blackler and Alex Brayman describe their startup experience including why they chose to end their Massachusetts LLC. This post gets into the details of their partnership including how they went from 3 co-founders to just the two of them.

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.

2 thoughts on “The End of the Beginning”

  1. Awesome. THat’s a great story. I am ending one of my businesses currently and I definitely jumped in a bit earlier than I should have, especially where hiring and subcontracting is concerned. Dealing with some of the fallout from that TODAY! But, it is still an awesome lesson, one that has made me wiser. I wouldn’t trade it…..well, except for the part where I have less money 😉

    1. I completely agree! This is a great learning experience for both of us. I wouldn’t trade this experience for any other. I hope to have the opportunity to start a business again.

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