A New Chapter for NextChapter

NextChapter Relaunch

It was 1:35PM yesterday when I got the email: “New NextChapter Contact Form Submitted!” I figured it was one of my copy editor friends checking the site for errors and misplaced commas. To my surprise, it was an actual potential client! A bankruptcy attorney who found NextChapter online by searching “bankruptcy software” and after perusing the site, requested early access to become part of the beta testing group. I know that sounds like a bunch of Zzz… to many of you. But to me, it was music to my ears!

NextChapter’s new chapter began a couple months ago when I taught myself how to code. From there, things with the company have been moving quickly once again but in a different direction. Sometimes, you have to take a step back in order to move forward.

So today, a week after our soft launch…

I’m happy to announce the relaunch of the NextChapter website!

I built the site using Ruby on Rails 3.2 and customizing a Bootstrap theme using HTML/CSS. I couldn’t have done it without my friends at JetCode.They were a huge help when I was stuck on a problem and always there to push me along. I’m also happy that Adam has decided to become the lead software developer for NextChapter and that he was there to put together pieces of the site that I wasn’t sure how to do.

The video on the site was filmed and produced by Benji Robinson. He is building his video production startup here in Columbus and taking clients now. For any filming inquiries, he can be reached via email here.

Now that the site is launched, team is built, advisors are on board, company is incorporated, and legal documents are coming to a close, I’m looking forward to getting the application to our beta group for testing!

I won’t be discussing any bankruptcy news or other legal related content on this blog, so if you want to keep up to date with the NextChapter team, follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

As always, thank you for your continued support and encouragement.


Influential Women

With Sheryl Sandberg’s new book coming out this week, I deemed it appropriate to share some of the powerful women who inspire me. Let’s stop the controversy about women in tech and just start. Become the influence you want to see in the world.

1) First Lady Michelle Obama – The First Lady has always been an inspiration to me. Not only is she stylish, intelligent and fit, but she is also powerfully connecting and boy, can she work an audience. With goosebumps on my arms, I watched her speech at the DNC and thought to myself that I couldn’t feel more proud to be a woman in America. She gives me the aspiration to stand before a large audience, push my shoulders back and pour out all of the passion I have to share my story. What a wonderful influence she is to young girls across the U.S.

2) Sara Blakely – As the founder of the woman’s slimming undergarment  Spanx, Sara Blakely became the youngest self-made female billionaire in America. She owns 100% of her private company, has zero debt and never took any outside investment. Sara was 27 when she used her entire $5,000 savings and spent two years planning the launch of her product while maintaining her full time job and working nights on Spanx. After sending samples to Oprah’s stylist, Oprah named Spanx one of her Favorite Things. From there, Spanx took off and Sara became an “overnight success”. She is a great example of how entrepreneurial woman can make an idea a reality by working hard and being persistant.

3) Senator Elizabeth Warren – With my background in consumer financial defense (consumer bankruptcy), I have been following Elizabeth Warren since she helped with the creation of the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau. She is a fearless advocate for middle class families and protects the rights of the average working Americans over the big banks on Wall Street. Senator Warren was a law professor for more than 30 years and an expert on consumer bankruptcy. As you can imagine, she is quite a role model for me.

4) Audrey Hepburn – My fascination with Audrey Hepburn started many years ago. My dad and I would watch classic movies every Monday night when I was growing up and after seeing Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I was hooked. I bought every movie that Audrey starred in, read biographies about her and even used her charm and goodwill as my ideal essence. It was her elegance and grace that caught my eye and as I learned more, it was her heart and humanitarianism that moved me.

5) Sandra Day O’Connor – “That was my first job as a lawyer. I worked for no salary and I put my desk in with the secretary.” Sandra Day was the first female Justice appointed to the US Supreme Court. She paved the way for other females in the court system – not just the U.S but in countries across the world.

For more female influence around the world, watch the documentary Makers or even just some of the short videos from the documentary here.

Startup Weekend – Recap + Photos

I spent my weekend in a building full of high energy, motivation and serious talent. Columbus Startup Weekend is a place where creatives, hackers, hustlers, dreamers and inventors all get together in one space for 54 hours and build a company out of nothing.

The 60-second pitches started Friday night – there were 42. Ideas ranged from drinking apps to a tech haunted house to accountant marketplace. After the pitches, chaos ensues… Everyone that pitched runs around the room collecting votes and forming teams. From there, the teams start building and don’t stop until Sunday evening demos/pitches in front of the judges. I didn’t join a team but I spent the whole weekend there working on my own startup, getting energy from the others and connecting with tons of people. I was so impressed with the event – especially how well organized it was. Brian, Suzy and Steve did such an awesome job of keeping everything moving smoothly and encouraging the teams along the way.

Dan Rockwell posted a great review of all the startups, so I won’t get into each one but my favorites were:

Simple Leaf – Handcrafted, quality curated tea selections, originally planned as a tea of the month club. But let’s talk about the design of this site… wow. I also love tea and the blends sound delicious.

QuickSpoon – Never eat alone again! All you do is click the “I’m hungry!” button and you can see on the app, people around you or in your network that are also hungry.  The team was great, the pitch was great and the idea was great. Below is a photo from their facebook page – these are all of the other names that they considered when coming up with QuickSpoon.

Phone Fiction – Books by text. The founder of this app is a passionate author and editor of short fiction and made a big impact on the idea behind the app. During the weekend I received a text from them that just said “I woke up sewn inside of a bear carcass.” and then another text “Interested? Read More. (link to post)” After opening the link, it said I had a 3 min. time commitment so I sat and read the chapter. It was very interesting. At the end, you can choose to sign up, pay and read the rest or wait 24hrs for the next chapter.

All of the teams showed an enormous amount of drive and enthusiasm through the process. Startup Weekend is a great way to connect aspiring entrepreneurs with the resources they need to make stuff happen! Maybe I’ll even pitch my other startup idea next time…

Enjoy the photos that Adam and I took throughout the weekend.

Have you been to Startup Weekend? Share your experience in the comments below!

Teaching Myself How to Code

When you have passion and drive, nothing can stand in your way. Make it happen.

In my case, everything was moving fast and falling in line. I had meeting after meeting set up with customers ready to test a demo and only when it was time to move on to the next big step did I find out that I had to start all over. I felt completely alone and lost. After a couple days of trying to figure out a solution, I knew the only thing I could do was to keep pushing. I’m disciplined, dedicated and devoted to my startup. So that’s when I decided to teach myself how to code.

Granted, I have other options now and my intent is not to completely run it alone, I still knew that learning how to code would be an invaluable skill. It will help me communicate better with developers and help me analyze and understand my company inside and out. I never imagined I would learn programming but now that I’ve started, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long. Building something out of an idea and then watching it come to life is such a powerful feeling.

I began Treehouse on January 31st with a goal to build my new website and learn the basics of a Rails application in one month. I’m happy to say that I have finished the site and will be launching it next week. I plan to write an entire post on my love for Treehouse, but short and sweet: The satisfaction I get from earning a badge after completing a course is something I haven’t experienced in years.

Here are a few of the badges I earned in my Ruby courses.

In order to speed the learning process up, I decided to take courses in HTML/CSS, and Ruby. All at once. I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way. Treehouse offers Learning Adventures that take you through all of the courses to become a web designer or web developer. That’s the best route. If you’d like to start learning, click one of the photos in this post or the referral link in my sidebar.

I’ve always wanted to learn a new language. I just didn’t know it would be a programming language.

Teach Yourself How to Code:

1) Treehouse

‘Our mission is to bring affordable Technology education to people everywhere, in order to help them achieve their dreams and change the world.’

2) Codeacademy

‘Codecademy is a team of hackers working hard to build a better way for anyone to teach, and learn, how to code. We’re determined to succeed in realizing our mission to turn a world of tech consumers into one of empowered builders.’

3) Code School

‘Code School opens the door to a new way of learning by combining video, coding in the browser, and gamification to make learning a new technology fun!’

3) LearnStreet

‘LearnStreet is an early-stage startup focused on changing the way people of all backgrounds and skill levels learn how to code.’

4) CodeHS

‘The goal of CodeHS is to spread the knowledge of computer science by offering well crafted instructional materials supported continuously by the quality, personal attention of our enthusiastic tutors. We believe that everyone has the ability to learn computer science, and we want to help them do so.’

5) Khan Academy

‘We’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.’

6) Udacity

‘Our mission is to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to advance their education and careers.’

7) Udemy

‘Udemy helps students make moves. Whether you want to get promoted, break into a new industry, start a company, further a passion, or just accelerate your life, Udemy helps you learn from the amazing instructors in the world, so that you can get there and get there faster.’

If you haven’t seen this awesome video yet by Code.org, take a few minutes now. Enjoy!

[embedplusvideo height=”390″ width=”645″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/nKIu9yen5nc?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=nKIu9yen5nc&width=645&height=390&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep9388″ /]

Benevolence – A Series About Giving

Coming into the new year I made a decision to do one volunteer opportunity each month in a different area of need. But seriously, do you have any idea how hard it is to find volunteer opportunities? It was like a full time job: researching, calling, sending emails, filling out requests, waiting for replies, following up, taking applications to the office, and so on…

With this new series, I hope to share information with others in the area about upcoming volunteer events and charity drives, feature organizations that need our help and also document my experience with the volunteer opportunities that I try.

So let’s start with the basics…

First, you have to determine what issues you’d like to contribute to. There are so many specific areas in need so here are a few to get started:

[table caption=”” width=”645″ colwidth=”327/300″ colalign=”left|left”]
Youth & Children,Disabled
Health & Wellness, Adult Education
Animals, Environment/Community
Disaster Relief, Family Services
Hunger, Homelessness & Housing
Seniors,Veterans & Military Familes


After you choose the cause, you can move on to applying for volunteer opportunities through local or global communities. This is the tricky part that becomes quite time consuming and getting in touch with the coordinators is sometimes not as easy as it should be. Over the next couple weeks I will help break down the process and feature some of the best sites for finding volunteer opportunities.

In the meantime, here are a couple of the best places to search on your own, in the Columbus area:

  • VolunteerMatch has a nice advanced search feature to find specifically what you are looking to do and when you are available.
  • HandsOn Central Ohio is a great resource for all things giving.
  • United Way of Central Ohio  has several options for volunteering time and money.
  • BESA matches people’s passions with the organizations that could use their talents.

[embedplusvideo height=”390″ width=”645″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/W5pp6HqCOg8?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=W5pp6HqCOg8&width=645&height=390&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=0&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep5254″ /]

BESA: Before You Give.