User experience & onboarding
Doola offers a mix of developer-friendly and user-friendly products, with the centerpiece being their chat-based formation process. Their chatbot follows a strict if/else script to collect basic information about your business and provides recommendations along the way about which state to incorporate based on your inputs. While we don't agree with their suggestions in many cases, the service is free and helpful for some companies. Pricing is up-front, although the renewal fees aren't displayed until the end of the chat. To be fair, these fees can vary based on the state and formation type, which is probably why they info-gate it.
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.
Doola earns points with us for their mix of API-first and non-technical onboarding options. Unlike Firstbase, Doola caters to whitelabel customers as well as company owners. Firstbase assumes a higher level of knowledge compared with Doola, and opts for documentation and menu onboarding rather than chat-based entrance interviews.
Doola and Firstbase have similar processing times, in the sense that you're going to be waiting on the state for most of the approximately one-week formation time. Doola's API product means they've heavily automated the process, but overall, time to formation is not a consideration between Doola and Firstbase.
Doola's services are tailored around their API offerings, meaning that it's heavily automated and extremely fast. The only holdup customers will experience is with state processing times; Doola's processing times are effectively instant.
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?
Doola is heavily focused on non-US residents, and is unique in their product offerings for specific LLC use cases such as DAOs. While their obvious competitors like Stripe Atlas focus on the venture-funded startup crowd, Doola provides tools for more modest e-commerce and software companies. In addition to formation, they offer basic legal and regulatory compliance services in the $1.5–3k range.
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 of Doola is among the lower ones in our index. It is based on Doola's value matrix for a clear demographic, but offset by issues including high cost of upsold services and low company history. On the plus side, Doola provides ultra-tailored tools for non-residents and DAOs rather than trying to serve every type of business.
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.