Inspiration / Here's the Whole Story
We're all familiar with services like LegalZoom, Nolo, and Rocket Lawyer, but what if business formation could actually be done even quicker, easier, and cheaper? Instacorp seeks to offer a one-page solution to business formation. A fresh, modern take on business filing services without any of the filler or friction points.
What it does
Instacorp finds the appropriate form for your desired type of business entity (LLC, LLP, DBA, etc) and state. Answer a few questions and then sign. Your documents are then sent to a notary (if required), and then transmitted directly to your state government for filing. Simplifying this process and removing many of the friction points will allow Instacorp to remain profitable and serve a market of folks who may be deterred by competing services due to their exorbitant service fees.
NOTE: this demo version only allows one type of form to be completed at the moment, but I plan to update with the most frequently needed forms for each state government.
How we built it
Instacorp is a one-page app that leverages the Anvil Etch E-sign and PDF filling APIs for completing necessary forms. I programmed the app using PHP's cURL functions to interact with the API.
After the documents have been signed and completed, we then use the mFax API to send the documents directly to the state or county for filing.
Challenges we ran into
PHP is my language of choice. The Anvil API documentation focused a lot on the Node.js module and didn't have PHP examples, but I eventually figured out the best approach using cURL functions to interact with the API. I was also new to GraphQL, so figuring out how to properly format GraphQL mutations using JSON was perplexing at first, but referencing some generated code examples on Postman helped with this.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The demo version shows a great use case: filing an Assumed Name Certificate in the State of Texas. I was able to take a process that might take up to an hour for the average person and condense it down to less than 10 minutes. In this instance, without Instacorp, you would have to track down two different forms (Form 503 and a separate payment form that must be attached), print them out and fill them in, get an envelope (and hopefully you have stamps), and take a trip to the mailbox.
What we learned
I learned a lot about Anvil's feature-rich APIs. After exploring the Anvil API documentation, I've been inspired to try a few other ideas. I have a project in mind that could leverage Hedera's Token Service along with Anvil's APIs to simplify the process of buying and selling houses.
What's next for Instacorp
The current demo only allows for one type of business filing at the moment, so the next steps would be to implement as many state-specific documents for the various types of business entities available. These templates will need to be setup in Anvil. I also have a notarization API in mind that will take care of notarizing documents when needed.
Because API calls in the production version won't be free, I'd like to finalize a price point for a small fee that is charged for using the service. The service fee should be much less than LegalZoom, which normally charges $100 on top of any sort of filing. I think it's very feasible to undercut them on this and will have more details soon.