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Startup Spotlight Series

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Kevin Kearney –  Hard Candy Shell LLC

About Hard Candy Shell®

Hard Candy Shell is a digital product design agency based out of New York. The design house creates unique and innovative user experiences such as websites and digital platforms along with intuitive user interfaces to provide users with easy access and impactful engagement. Their gallery of work includes the launch of RentTheRunway.com, jetsetter.com and applications like foursquare. Kevin Kearney, founder and CEO of Hard Candy Shell, shares some of his experiences with starting his business and provides some advice for prospective business owners.


Naming the Company

Inspiration for a company name can occur at any time. Some owners have their business name settled long before the company is created. For Kearney the inspiration for the name Hard Candy Shell came down the night before signing the first contract.

"The day before, we were supposed to send out our first contract and we hadn’t come up with a name. Over wine and dinner, a scene in the movie Tommy Boy came up, where the main character says ‘shut up Richard you’re the one with a hard candy shell’ and voila, we had our name," says Kearney.

He offers some advice to entrepreneurs regarding naming a business, "When it comes to names, one of the things we reinforce, while there is a process is that there’s also something to be said about feeling really comfortable with the name."

Deciding to Incorporate

The decision to incorporate Hard Candy Shell was easy – it came from their customer base which was other businesses. "When we spoke to our customers, they were part of large holding companies. When you talk to the purchasing departments at these companies, you cannot get on their lists unless you are official. We had to prove that we can be insured, if everything burns down, what happens? It’s much easier to handle if you have a clear LLC in place," says Kearney.

Incorporation Advice for Entrepreneurs

Forming a company, whether it’s an LLC or corporation, opens opportunities that are otherwise not available to a freelancer or sole proprietor. There’s the legitimacy factor and personal asset protection, but another often overlooked factor is purchasing power and access to credit. Kearney points this out from personal experience, "My girlfriend recently quit her job and started as a floral designer. She’s not incorporated; she’s just an independent person – a sole proprietor. She needs to buy wholesale flowers and you can’t do that unless you have a tax ID to purchase at wholesale."

He adds, "I think there are always little things like that which exist in every industry. Once you have an LLC you can get a business credit card and just use it for expenses relating to equipment, everything is made that much easier. Benefits you don’t even think about."

"Has anyone ever said, ‘ugh I should never have bothered forming an LLC.’ No! Because its peace of mind and empowerment. Instead of talking about doing something you are actually doing it."


Company Snapshot


Company name
Hard Candy Shell LLC
Company Website
www.hardcandyshell.com
In Business Since
2007

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