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.


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!

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Bootstrapping Your Startup

When I first began talking about my startup, I didn’t think that bootstrapping was the answer. I had always been used to making a salary, getting my health insurance covered, having an office, basically buying anything I wanted whenever I wanted because I worked hard for it and deserved it. Well, once I made the leap from full time employment into a full time startup, things dramatically changed. I couldn’t spend time supplementing income because I had to give my undivided attention to my new project. With that, came a lot of stress and financial budgeting.

In a world of sixteen-hour days on your laptop fixing bugs and setting meetings, it’s nice to earn a little extra cash without putting too much of your time into doing so. Here are some of the best ways to make money while you’re building your startup.


1. Become a Zirtual Assistant.

Zirtual is a company based out of San Francisco that provides personal and executive assistance to busy people. If you become a zirtual assistant, you can set your own hours and choose only which jobs fit your schedule.

2. Fulfill requests on Zaarly.

Zaarly allows people to post what they will pay for a task or an item. Sometimes it’s as simple as a ride to the airport for $50. Other times, people are asking for help moving for $500 or a full day wedding photographer for $1,500. Sift through the requests to see which tasks your are able to fulfill.

3. Board a dog. Become a Rover sitter.

Rover was created at Startup Weekend and is a community for dog lovers to connect owners with sitters for home dog stays. So if you love dogs and work from home, you can apply to be a dog sitter in your area.

4. Rent a room out of your house or condo on Airbnb.

If you have a spare room in your place or will be away on vacation for a period of time, consider listing your space on Airbnb.

5. Become a TaskRabbit.

TaskRabbit is similar to Zaarly and Zirtual. People post errands and chores that they want to have done, like buying groceries or moving/packing and the average cost they would pay to have that task accomplished and then certified TaskRabbits will come over and fulfill those requests.

6. Teach a class on Dabble.

Dabble lets you learn, teach and host a one-time affordable class. You can teach what you know and love to a group full of interested students.

7. Become a Ninja or get paid giving advice on Clarity.

LiveNinja is a way to talk with live highly skilled experts via video chat. Clarity is similar but allows business experts to give valuable advice over the phone.

8. Freelance your skills on FreelanceSwitch.

Take a look through the job board on FreelanceSwitch to see if there are any jobs that you could help with. Sometimes it’s a quick blog post that needs written while other times, companies are looking for a freelancer on a major project.

1. Be smart about accounting.

Keeping your financial records maintained from the very start will ensure that you are on track when you start making money. Also make sure that you have a good accountant/CPA to handle your taxes. One of the best ways to reduce costs and expenses in the beginning is by being on top of your taxes and maintaining control. Upsourced Accounting is a firm in Columbus geared specifically to the freelance/startup group.

2. Understaff and consider interns.

There are many students looking for a job in a startup and you might just be the best resource for them to learn and grow.

3. Keep overhead low and outsource.

In the beginning, it is very important to keep the overhead low. You don’t need office space; work from home or coffee shops. When you’re thinking about hiring, first consider outsourcing and then check sites like Elance or oDesk for qualified candidates to do the project virtually.  If you have any quick jobs or surveys to test, give Fivver a try.

4. Negotiate.

Don’t underestimate the power of negotiation. Try asking for discounts on products if you feel that you may not use all of the features. Or perhaps explain that you are just a startup and unable to make those larger payments but will work out an arrangement to refer more clients.

5. Use free web tools.

There are many free tools out there to help you start a company. Take advantage of them. I highlight a few of them in this post: Startup Tools and Must Haves. 

Happy bootstrapping!

Make Life More Valuable: Part II

My first post, Make Life More Valuable: Part I was such a hit that I decided to make it a quarterly feature.


Last summer when I was in Seattle, I decided on a whim, to climb Mount Si and ever since, I can’t stop thinking about the feeling I had when summiting the mountain. When everything was different. When I reached the peak and felt rocks crumbling down below my feet as I climbed higher and higher through the haystack. When I watched the clouds circle the mountain and was left with a view of the world five-thousand feet below me. That moment when I remembered what I was climbing for. Without challenge, life would feel like every other day on the ground.


Have you ever been upset in a moment or stuck on a problem that you just can’t seem to find a way to look at it on the outside, no matter what you do? You keep digging yourself deeper and deeper into the situation in your mind that you have now let this one little worry control your entire world. Well, the only way to really gain control of your emotions is to change the pattern. When you get upset, if you always go to the same place, listen to the same music, think the same thoughts, just stop! Get up, go for a run, act goofy, shake it off, (seriously). No one is watching but you. Get yourself out of the funk and change the pattern. I’m telling you, it’ll help you snap back into reality and let you see the problem from another point of view to find a meaningful solution.


I love this tweet I saw last week “Stop the Glorification of Busy”. The thing is, we can all be busy… drowning in work… so overwhelmed with things to do… etc. But by working SMARTER you can accomplish much more on that to-do list. You just need to be disciplined and set realistic goals. Being an entrepreneur definitely isn’t for everyone. Some people need structure set by someone else. And that’s fine. But if you are willing to make the jump, be sure you know how to manage your time efficiently to get the most out of your work days. Working hard isn’t hard enough if you aren’t working smart.


We spend so much time working to become “successful” “wealthy” or “rich”. We spend even more time trying to figure out what those terms mean to us and how to get there. But what about all of the time in-between? Just be. Enjoy the simple pleasures of life and just simply be. A cup of hot coffee on a rainy day, a walk around the park with my happy Golden, a phone call with my dad for no reason… these are the type of simple pleasures that makes my life more valuable.


The key to a rich life is to invest in yourself. By eating well, sleeping well and exercising often you will be much more productive with work and have a stronger sense of balance. Another important step to investing in yourself is to continue learning and building your knowledge base. I consume tons of information every day by reading books, articles and blog posts or listening to podcasts and TED talks from powerful thought leaders. I find that spending my time and money on growing my personal skills will always be beneficial.


We get so caught up in working out and being hard on ourselves that we deserve to indulgence every now and again. My secret indulgence is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams on a hot summer night. Who am I kidding? Jeni’s at any time is delicious.  I even had a little yesterday! [double-toasted coconut + banana cajeta…mmmm].

What are some of your personal tips or tricks on how to make life more valuable?