Clerky vs Firstbase

Features, pricing, and contract terms compared

Patrick Ward Patrick Ward Follow Published: Sep 27, 2022

Overlap occurs between Clerky and Firstbase as both serve the startups seeking to be Delaware Incorporated. Clerky is more focused on the legal documents and navigating compliance for Silicon Valley startups as these businesses start and change structures overtime. Firstbase on the other hand, is more focused on helping those startups with founders outside America get a foothold in the States and then grow, supplementing their business formation services with growth oriented tools.

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  • Best for most startups: Clerky
  • Good fit for international founding teams: Firstbase


4.1/5 stars

Clerky's purpose is to provide Silicon Valley startups with the legal foundation to run their business compliantly. While this doesn't differ substantially from Firstbase in formation services, Clerky differs with a more expansive set of legal products to serve ongoing, structural, and maintenance considerations of Startups.


3.9/5 stars

Firstbase looks to reduce the burden of compliance and complexity for International Founders starting U.S. companies compared to their domestic entrepreneurial rivals. Firebase matches Clerky on business formation but takes a different route on related products, preferring to hone in on growth and financial-products that are necessary for Startup success.

Summary of key differences

Entry price$99 + state fees$399$297 + state fees
Standard processing time2-3 business days3-7 business days1–3 business day
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Pricing Analysis: Clerky vs Firstbase

Clerky's initial business formation package of $99 + state fees, at a surface glance, seems to be the better deal than Firstbase, which comes in at $399 for business formation services, albeit at a state-fee inclusive price point. Clerky falls short, however, on the renewal with a $125 charge for annual registered agent services compared to Firstbase's clean price tag of $99 for the same service. Clerky has the last laugh with a $125 foreign qualification fee - a service that Firebase doesn't even offer.

Clerky pricing

The base pricing from Clerky is more expensive than Firstbase. However, note that pricing is impacted by state fees. For example, Clerky customers setting up an LLC in Delaware will see an initial cost of $189 (package cost plus the state LLC fee). In Wyoming, the same package would cost $299 because of the higher state fee.

Firstbase pricing

Firstbase is the less expensive formation service offering compared with Clerky.

Clerky vs Firstbase market value analysis

Market average based on analysis of 10 formation services providers.
MetricMarket AverageClerkyFirstbase
Lowest package price$124 before state fees$99 + state fees$399
Formation processing time8 business days2-3 business days3-7 business days
Registered agent annual cost$164 $125 Variable
Foreign qualification fee $142 $125 Variable

User experience & onboarding

Clerky mimics the flow of their target customer very seamlessly, prompting an account creation. While slightly inconvenient, it's worth noting that the account creation doesn't incur any fees until particular legal products are purchased. Clerky also makes a fairly binary choice for prospective customers - a one time all-inclusive package or an a-la-carte option with transparent pricing for each product.

With an interface more akin to a developer-facing product than a consumer-facing one, Firstbase is not immediately the easiest to navigate. Once into the flow, it's fairly straightforward with limited options of Delaware and Wyoming and a flat fee disclosed up front. The business formation flow in particular is exceptionally quick to navigate - as Firstbase prefers to offer multiple products within the 'Start your U.S. based business niche' including growth tools, business addresses alongside the expected formation and registered agent services.

Clerky's onboarding flow has a slight false-start motion, prompting account creation before any questions are posed to the entrepreneur. Firstbase, similarly isn't immediately obvious although this could be due to the interface being designed with a technical business owner in mind as the audience rather than a consumer-facing one. Once into the onboarding flow, both adopt similar Silicon Valley best practices, providing clear choices and decision trees for the business owner to choose the services that are right for them.

Formation speed

Clerky has a very swift business formation speed of two to three business days, close to the fastest speeds available in the industry. The fact that Clerky's offering puts it also in the adjacent LegalTech category makes those speeds all the more impressive, although somewhat expected by their Silicon Valley, 'Move Fast and Break Things' clientele. Firstbase drags slightly behind Clerky, with formation speeds of three to seven business speeds. Although still quick, Firstbase is off from the industry norm of a handful of days to process business formation applications.

Not quite as swift as one day, Clerky's two to three day processing time is still up there with the fastest in the space. With a narrow band of well-targeted products, it makes sense that their processing times are fairly prompt, by industry standards.

Firstbase's processing times of three to seven business days isn't awful, but neither is it particularly impressive. In today's 'I want it now' economy, three to seven business days seems like a lifetime compared to the 'same day' or 'next day' promises of several in the business formation space. It's worth noting however, that Firstbase's processing time puts it solidly in the middle of the pack, considerably faster than those in the twenty to forty business day processing time range.

Are they worth the cost?

Not shy about their target, Clerky bashes you over the proverbial head with their ideal customer: Silicon Valley Startups. The score of recognizable names including Zapier, Segment, Coinbase, Gusto, feature heavily in their positioning as Silicon Valley's go-to for legal paperwork. Their products cover the suite of likely legal considerations for a Startup beyond Formation including Fundraising, Hiring, Structural Changes and NDAs.

Firstbase has strong overtures of developer dark mode interfaces, leaning to a strong targeting of International Tech Founders. The messaging is consistent with entrepreneurs trying to start their first U.S. business. Firstbase positions the choice of their products as either for the entrepreneur looking to be economical on taxation (via Wyoming incorporation) or Startups seeking VC-funding (via the standard Delaware incorporation).

NanoGlobals editor's rating show Clerky as a great option within their particular niche. While clearly not for every entrepreneur, their Silicon Valley experience shines through with transparent pricing that is substantially lower than other Silicon Valley-oriented services, especially with respect to ongoing fees. Minor deductions for a slightly slower processing time, although not by much, and an onboarding flow that insists on account creation up front.

NanoGlobals editor's rating represents Firstbase as a solid option, especially for the Non-U.S. founder. Their tech-oriented, all encompassing offer earn points for providing multiple tools to the aspiring tech entrepreneur to start their U.S. base business, along with very transparent pricing on all their available add-ons. Minor subtractions occur due to a higher than average price point and processing times.

Author Credentials

Patrick Ward is an expert on working with startups and new businesses. He has 8 years experience serving tech-enabled companies with staffing and growth.

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