Choosing the correct business structure for your new startup can be a daunting process and there is a lot of ‘free’ advice online but choosing the wrong type of structure can end up being costly. Nellie Alkap has been there and done that having formed over 100,000 corporations. I recently sat down with Nellie, Founder of CorpNet to learn about how the company was started, how it operates, and what is in store for the future.
Tell us about yourself first. What is your history? Where did you go to school and work in the past?
I am an Internet entrepreneur and CEO & Founder of Corpnet.com, my second incorporation filing service based on the simple philosophy of truth in business and my strong passion to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting and protecting their business. Through the various “Do-It-Yourself” and “Business-Startup” services I have founded since 1997, I’ve formed over 100,000 corporations and LLCs for small business owners.
As CEO of Corpnet.com, I am a strong advocate in educating small business owners and entrepreneurs about the importance of protecting their personal assets. Helping entrepreneurs navigate the murky waters of small business ownership is something I have long been passionate about.
Who have been your business startup inspirations? Did you learn anything from them specifically?
My husband and business partner of 15 years, Phil Akalp, is and has been my business startup inspiration and my most important role model in my life and throughout my career. Phil is my best friend, my soul mate and most importantly the best role model for me in that he always pushes me to continuously improve myself in all aspect of my life whether business or personal. Even though sometimes he may be a tough critic and can be taken as being mean sometimes, he has a genuine heart and truly wants me to be the best that I can be in anything I set my mind to. He has made a huge impact in my life. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be the wife, mother, and business expert I am today.
What was your inspiration to start your company?
After we sold my first company, MyCorporation.com to Intuit in 2005, we took a few years off to spend time with the kids, work out and relax. We soon found ourselves very bored and after the non-compete agreement with Intuit expired, we decided to get back into the document filing industry since that’s where our passion and excitement lies…making people’s business dreams into a reality!
Tell us how your company started and when. Who was involved and what did each person do?
We started CorpNet.com, my second document filing service, out of a side room in our garage, back in July of 2009. The company started with my husband and myself and Amanda B., who worked with us at our first company, stayed on with our previous company after the acquisition, then went to work with her dad for a while and decided to join us again with this company
Tell us an interesting story about your business. Were there any “wow” moments? Anything funny or unusual?
The biggest wow moment for us was when we saw the power of social media and what a big part it played in our business after we got the hang of how to do it correctly. We were in Vegas at BlogWorld and we were at a meet and greet party after the event and all of a sudden I get an email alert about a reporter that had come to our booth and written about us and our services and that made my whole year!!!!
What is your role in the company now?
I am currently the CEO of Corpnet.com where I assist entrepreneurs in making their business dreams a reality on a daily basis!
What does your company sell and how does it make money?
Corpnet.com provides business filing services required for a variety of business needs such as forming a Corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC), filing a DBA/Fictitious Business Name, Trademark Search and Registration services, and much more across all 50 states.
Our Mission is to provide the most comprehensive and cost-effective service when it comes to starting, protecting, and managing your business. Many entrepreneurs don’t have the big funds to bring in an attorney for the types of services we offer, but at our affordable prices, they can get what they need done and the right way.
Which companies do you consider to be competitors?
LegalZoom.com, BizFilings.com, and Incorporate.com
What makes your products and services better than competitors’ offerings?
Corpnet.com is not some big, anonymous corporation with nothing but automated e-mails and recorded voice messages. We’re a small business helping small businesses. We are a team of real people who are on the phone all day talking with entrepreneurs in their journey to success. Hands down, we provide the best email, phone and web support in our industry so our clients can always expect to talk with a real person to help guide them through the process. We actually got secret shopped and their testimonial about us is the best, all around email, phone web support EVER.
What are revenues so far this quarter? Year? What is your quarterly revenue growth from this same quarter in 2012?
Revenues last year were well over 1.5 million and are slated to triple this year.
Does the company have any cash flow from financing activities? What is your total debt, if any?
We are 100% debt Free and privately funded fully backed by my husband and myself; no other investors.
Are you planning an IPO? If so, when? How are you raising capital?
No and not at all; We re-invest the company profits back into the business to grow the business and if we need to invest more, we take out of our personal savings and invest into the company. I plan to keep the company in the family, grow it and give it to my children to manage
Where do you see the company in five years in terms of revenue and profitability?
5 times the gross of what it is dong currently if not more.
What would you define as your “primary market”?
New and existing small business owners of less than 10 employees, attorney’s cpa’s consultants, and other financial and tax professionals.
How big do you think this market will be in terms of total revenue in 2015?
Total market is approximately well over 1 billion.
What forms of marketing do you use to attract clients?
We do a little bit of everything including direct response, PPC, and SEO. However, most of our business is through word of mouth, heavy social media marketing, and PR and media appearances.
How big is the company in terms of its workforce?
Because of massive automation and outsourcing, our business does not require a lot in human labor other than sales support and a dev team. As such, we currently have 10 plus people in house plus my husband and myself.
What are the biggest growth catalysts (new technology, new offerings, etc.) for you right now? Tell us about any patents or other IP.
Our biggest growth catalyst is the launch of our new compliance tool called the Business Information Zone (BIZ™), a premium service that helps customers keep their company organized and in good standing.
Free to any new or existing CorpNet.com customer, BIZ offers premium business compliance services, including personalized email alerts for important tax and state filing deadlines. Our clients won’t have to worry about missing due dates, paying late fees, or risking non-compliance by forgetting to file since we will remind them!
Have you faced any regulatory hurdles, or anticipate any in the future?
Other than the fact that we are not able to provide legal, tax or financial advice, none to date
Is there any announcement you’d like to make?
In addition to the launch of our Business Information Zone (BIZ™), CorpNet.com is thrilled to announce the launch of its newest free online application tool, the Business Structure Wizard, aimed to help entrepreneurs select the right company structure for their new or existing business.
The Business Structure Wizard guides users through a series of basic questions on their business, industry, finances, and long-term plans. The entire wizard should take approximately 5 minutes or less to complete and provides a recommended company structure based on the user’s responses.
The Business Structure Wizard is part of CorpNet.com’s central mission to help small business owners thrive in legitimizing their small business, thereby making their small business dreams into a reality.
To learn more about CorpNet or Nellie visit http://www.corpnet.com