User experience & onboarding
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.
Onboarding for Stripe Atlas is dependent on a major factor: whether or not you have a Stripe account. Assuming you do, the process is fairly simple - after all Stripe Atlas really only has a solitary option: to become a Delaware Incorporated Company. Given the simplicity of the product, and all of Silicon Valley conventions behind it, Stripe Atlas is fairly painless when it comes to onboarding.
Being tech natives, targeting the heart of Silicon Valley, both Firstbase and Stripe Atlas have first-rate onboarding experiences. Firstbase won't immediately appear intuitive to the non-technical persona, but a technical entrepreneur should have no difficulties, especially once into the onboarding flow with transparent pricing for add-ons. Stripe Atlas is even more straight forward with only one singular onboarding flow. Stripe Atlas' only hiccup with its onboarding is it requires the creation of a Stripe account in advance of beginning the business formation process.
Firstbase is slightly on the slower side when it comes to formation speed, at 3 to 7 business days. Most of Firstbase's processing time can be attributed to being a relatively newer player in the business formation space. Stripe Atlas, with more resources, conforms closer to the industry standard for processing times, with an expected 1 to 3 business day formation speed.
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.
Stripe Atlas, as is expected for Silicon Valley tech, tends towards the swift processing times that have become industry standard. Ranging from one to three business days, Stripe Atlas is good at getting your Delaware-based company up and running fast.
Are they worth the cost?
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).
Backed by the tech conglomerate that is Stripe, the target of Startups is fairly explicit for Stripe Atlas. The two key personas are either International Founders looking to start a tech business in the U.S. (given Stripe's strong emphasis on social proof from 140 countries) and Startups that looking towards fundraising, specifically VC and Private Equity, or joining an accelerator. The message is clear - if you're looking to be the next Silicon Valley Unicorn, Stripe Atlas wants you.
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.
With all the hype around Silicon Valley Unicorns, NanoGlobals editor's rating for Stripe Atlas might seem surprising at first. They are one of the more straight forward products in the business formation space and are clear on who they serve. But, as with many in Silicon Valley, they overcharge substantially due to the gloss of 'new age tech' - a gloss for a fairly simple product that seems to be a clear revenue grab for Stripe because they can lean on their brand's clout. The other big detraction for Stripe Atlas is the implied restriction on how you run your business - it has to be 'Stripe-friendly' and they quickly enmesh your business into their network, leading to a potential lack of operational flexibility.