Running a business in the US is the dream for many people. However, things aren't as simple as coming up with a great idea and getting started. Aside from your business plan and competitor research, there's also a lot of other legal paperwork you need to do.
Incorporating your business is one of the most important steps you can take on the road to becoming a legitimate business. Aside from being a legal requirement, it comes with a whole host of other benefits, like:
Fortunately, there are several options available to help you incorporate your company. This article will do a Stripe Atlas vs Clerky vs doola comparison. We'll compare each business based on price, services, and ease of use. By the end of the article, you should have a good idea of which incorporation service is the best for your situation.
Before we get into our Stripe Atlas vs Clerky vs doola comparison, we need to consider the main legal entity types of companies you can incorporate.
Firstly, you can open a sole proprietorship. However, while it's straightforward to do, it has a lot of disadvantages. Namely, a sole proprietorship doesn't offer asset protection, and raising capital is challenging.
Opening an LLC or C Corp, on the other hand:
But which is better, an LLC or a C Corp?
Well, the answer depends on what type of business you want.
An LLC, or limited liability company, means you and your business are separate entities. If you lose money or get sued, your home or personal assets aren't at risk. Additionally, an LLC is easy to set up.
A C corp is a shareholder-owned company. Each owner buys stock in the company, and these shares represent their ownership. While these businesses require more paperwork and are a little less flexible, their structure makes it far easier to raise capital (via shares).
Both structures have advantages and disadvantages.
You should open an LLC if you want:
You should open a C corp if you want:
OK, now that's all clear, let's get into our Stripe Atlas vs Clerky vs doola comparison.
Stripe Atlas is a platform that helps people form companies from overseas. It is part of the global payment processing business, Stripe.
Stripe Atlas is aimed at non-US citizens who want to start an internet business in the United States. Their goal is to make starting a business accessible to everyone.
The incorporation process is relatively straightforward. Stripe Atlas helps you set up a business entity in Delaware. They put together legal documents, file your paperwork, and apply for your Employee Identification Number (EIN). From there, they help you set up a bank account and connect it to the Stripe payment processor.
Customers use a well-built dashboard to upload incorporation documents and apply for services. It's very user-friendly and can do a lot of different things.
If you're going down the c corp route, Stripe Atlas can also help you set up your ownership structure and generate Stock Issuance documents.
Setting up a business with Stripe Atlas includes a one-time fee and an annual fee (after the first year).
The first year is a one-time setup fee of $500. Then, starting the second year, there's an annual fee of $100 to maintain your registered agent service.
Stripe Atlas also offers a few extra services for their customers.
Filing taxes is an important part of running any business. Stripe Atlas supports businesses through the tax season and helps them file their returns from the Dashboard.
Stripe Atlas helps businesses activate their payments account, meaning you can accept over 100 different currencies.
One of the biggest advantages of Stripe Atlas is the offer of $5000 worth of credits for Amazon Web Services (AWS). This offer is an excellent bonus for anyone setting up a cloud-based business.
A few other benefits of using Stripe Atlas are things like having access to the Stripe Atlas Community. These forums are full of like-minded entrepreneurs who can help with advice, support, networking, etc.
Clerky is another solution for helping entrepreneurs and startups navigate the online formation of a US-based company. Similar to Stripe Atlas, Clerky helps businesses set up in the state of Delaware. However, it only allows for forming a c corp, which won't suit every business owner.
Clerky's process is straightforward. You punch in some information, and Clerky fills out forms required to set up a Delaware c corporation. From there, your forms are submitted to a third-party Registered Agent, who files them with the state.
Clerky was formed by two startup attorneys. Their service is user-friendly and was built with collaboration in mind. While you can use the platform on its own, many startups use it to collaborate with their existing attorneys.
The costs for starting a C corp with Clerky are comparatively high. The one-time fee of $799 is a lot compared with its competitors. It should be noted that payment doesn't include third-party fees and other maintenance costs.
Alternatively, they also have a pay-per-use model. This starts at $407, plus post-incorporation startup fees of $299 and foreigner qualifications fees of $125, plus third-party costs.
Unlike the other platforms in this comparison, Clerky offers limited extra services. The best way to think about the product is that it provides a dashboard that facilitates getting all your paperwork together. This service is extremely useful, but it still requires input from your own startup attorney.
You can also use Clerky for a range of other business paperwork needs, such as fundraising and new hire forms. Again, it's best thought of as a legal collaboration tool rather than a full service.
doola is a platform that helps global founders form businesses in the US. Starting a US-based company from outside the country comes with various stresses and headaches. doola's aim is to streamline the process.
One of the big advantages of doola is that it allows entrepreneurs to set up an LLC, c corp, or DAO LLC. This flexibility gives doola an edge over its competitors.
Incorporating a business with doola is as simple as filling out some forms and sending some documents. From there, doola helps you get a US bank account and EIN. From there, doola sets you up with a payment processor so you can start to sell goods or services in the US.
What's more, doola also provides you with a virtual mailing address, access to a registered agent service and CPAs, 24/7 support, and more.
Related reads: Rocket Lawyer vs LegalZoom vs doola: Which is best for LLCs?
doola is very reasonably priced compared to its rivals. Setting up a business cost $197 plus state fees.
doola offers a comprehensive range of extra services that are ideal for startups and entrepreneurs.
doola Banking gives customers access to a US Visa card (physical or virtual). This service is excellent for non-US-based owners because it helps them save fees on US payments.
Additionally, doola lets users manage their cards and accounts from anywhere and send transfers and wires.
International transfers are coming soon.
doola has a bookkeeping service that can help business owners with financial reporting, reconciliation, and transaction review.
doola offers a tax package that helps owners file and prepare tax forms. Starting a business in a new region can be a headache, so this service can save owners a lot of time and money in fines.
doola Total Compliance offers a mix of tax and bookkeeping services, along with 24/7 customer support and consultations with CPAs.
Now that the Stripe Altas vs Clerky vs doola battle is complete, all that's left to do is crown a winner.
When it comes to costs, doola is the clear winner at $197. Stripe Atlas is cheaper than Clerky at $500; however, the savings become less obvious when you factor in the annual fees of $100.
Stripe Atlas and doola are the frontrunners here. Both platforms offer users the choice of either an LLC or a C corp. Clerky, on the other hand, only offers a C corp. While it's very good at what it does, this lack of flexibility won't work for every business.
An additional aspect to consider is that doola allows users to set up in any state. This option gives more flexibility for startups and entrepreneurs.
Stripe Atlas offers business owners up to $5,000 of free credits from Amazon Web Services (AWS). This offer is incredibly useful for online businesses that want to host their business on a cloud service. However, it might be worth tempering your expectations as many entrepreneurs have suggested they only received $1000 in credits.
Clerky doesn't offer any perks, offers, or discounts.
doola offers its users a rewards package that includes over $50,000 in credits for services like AWS, Square, QuickBooks, and much much more. There is a huge variety here, with access to lots of handpicked services that help new businesses get started.
Each platform offers extra services that can benefit startups.
Stripe Atlas also gives users access to a range of Stripe payment processing services. While these automated tools can help with bookkeeping, taxes, and financial reporting, they aren't dedicated services.
Clerky's Legal Dashboard gives access to things like:
These are useful additional services for legal and administrative work. However, these products need to be accessed by your startup attorney. Clerky facilitates this work through its dashboard rather than providing the service itself.
doola has a range of extra services that give it the edge over Stripe Atlas and Clerky. Some of the additional elements that entrepreneurs can take advantage of are:
These services are built to help businesses manage the strains and stresses of operating a business in the US.
doola offers users a mix of ease of use, flexibility, value, and extra services. Despite being more accessible than Stripe Atlas or Clerky, doola allows the formation of an LLC or C corp that can be registered in any state. Throw in extra services like banking, bookkeeping, and tax compliance, and it's a clear winner for startups and entrepreneurs that want to start a business from overseas.