That’s so… meta.
And the co-founders of Durham’s just-launched Startomatic say that’s intentional: Serial entrepreneur Robbie Allen and former lawyer-turned-bakery owner Andrew Fisher are their own first customers. Wait, what?
“We’re laying the railroad track in front of the train as we’re going,” said Fisher. “We are saying to ourselves at every turn, ‘What would really help us, as Startomatic, get this company up and going from a software and service perspective?’”
Startomatic offers a software platform called LAUNCH, which automates the process of creating a startup. It can help generate a name and logo, draft and file legal documents, secure a domain name, create a website, and set up email and social media accounts for the new company.
Companies can then subscribe monthly to Startomatic’s OPERATE product to receive ongoing business support and more advanced features, like SEO tools, customizable legal documents and trademark searching.
Startomatic saves its customers money by integrating these services, rather than new companies “cobbling together” different services, Allen said.
“For less than $600 and in less than two days, you can have a company that goes from idea to online and legally formed,” he said. “I’d be hard-pressed to imagine that many people could do that today. Generally it’s going to take two weeks and maybe $2,000 to do the same thing.”
The co-founders have a goal to reduce the total startup time—i.e., legally forming the new company and creating its online presence—to 30 minutes. The real hold-up, they say, is states’ online business-filing process.
Fisher adds that the $2,000 cost of traditionally creating a startup is a best-case scenario. He knows the startup business from both the legal side, as a former lawyer in the startup practice group at Smith Anderson in Raleigh; and as a business owner, having built Smallcakes cupcake shop from the ground up in Durham.
They go together like weights and cardio
Fisher and Allen met in their gym in 2018, and by fall 2019 they started working together when Allen stepped away from his position as CEO of the Durham-based machine learning company Infinia ML.
Allen’s previous ventures include founding StatSheets, one of the first web-based sports analytics sites, that he later rebranded as Automated Insights and which provided natural language generation technology to large companies. (Last January we ran a Q&A with Allen along with a picture in which—for some reason—he is curling.)
Allen’s idea for Startomatic perfectly fit together his own CEO and software expertise with Fisher’s legal and small business experience. They announced the company in January of this year and they’re launching today, on June 2.
The co-founders say Startomatic is possible because of where technology is today—government agencies are embracing digital over physical paperwork—and where they both are in their careers. Fisher says they bring a “DIY mentality” to their company of two, which they are funding from their own capital.
The timing is also right because of the coronavirus pandemic. Fisher says they can lower the barrier for people starting small businesses who might have lost jobs.
“We’re in a spot where we can help them more easily and for less money than they ever could have before,” he said. “So we really think there’s a mission for us to help create new businesses and thereby new jobs—lots of new jobs.”
Allen adds that they’re able to stay true to mission by not having pressure to grow the company or raise capital.
“This is the first company I’ve had where I’m really mission-driven,” Allen said. “My other companies were technology-driven. We were a hammer looking for nails. With Startomatic, my main goal is to increase the rate of new companies started every year. Full stop.”