There are a good amount of services that help you incorporate your startup for S Corp, C Corp or LLC, like Incorporate.com and Agents & Corporations. They help you put together the documents you need like bylaws and such and include Registered Agent services for a $200 premium over the state filing fee.
Did you use such a service? If so, which one? If not, why not? (And if not, how did you secure a Registered Agent?)
We didn't use a service to register our LLC. Registering an LLC is very easy to do, and in my opinion, it's a waste of money to pay someone else to do it. Your state's website should have all the information you need to form your LLC.
We didn't need a Registered Agent because we formed our LLC in the state we live in. Registered Agents are only necessary if registering a company outside your home state. But if you need a Registered Agent, you can obtain one without having to pay for the incorporation service.
In the case of S and C Corp, I believe it's a more complicated matter, although I've never been through it myself. And it probably makes sense to use a service like Incorporate.com.
For my California LLC, I used http://www.nolo.com. It was all done on-line and they filed everything I needed. I looked at a bunch of other ones that were a little cheaper but I have used Nolo for other things and trust them.
I did not get a registered agent for this one but one I have used in the past is: http://www.registeredagent.com/ They were pretty good. The whole registered agent thing seems like a waste if you are registered in the same state you do business in. If not, then it's part of the deal because most states require a state address.
Why would you use some automated cookie-cutter service, when there are plenty highly qualified private practitioners who can put together documents you will not need to re-do to take in investment?
There are plenty discouraging articles out there about horrid docs that come out of those template joints.
You get what you pay for with Nolos and other template shops - garbage. Those docs don't survive the first contact with any investor who knows their stuff.
I know you are in Boston, why don't you ping folks like Ben at www.vcreadylaw.com or one of the many other great folks serving the community.
I used a service called doing it myself! It takes the same amount of time. The forms you fill out with a service are so general you could do the same in minutes.
In california the SOS (secretary of state) actually gives you a sample of articles of incorporation that you can copy word for word. It is literally less than 3 sentences long. Good enough to get setup. No service will get you proper articles if you require them, have investors, or a board bigger than you and your wife. You need an attorney or paralegal to help draft that.
If your goal is to get setup with your LLC or Corp to get your business started, getting bank accounts, EIN and so on. Then do it yourself. Plus if you are too dumb to figure it out, chances are you are going to be a pretty big failure!