User experience & onboarding
Onboarding for new Incfile customers can be completed within an hour, and they list their packages clearly on their website with no need to go through a complex vetting quiz. Incfile also offers chat support for onboarding. Using chat, a live agent walks new customers through the process and collects the required information directly in the chat.
Onboarding for Northwest is more cumbersome than other products in the industry. Avoiding the simplified chat flows, ubiquitous of Silicon Valley SaaS, Northwest makes you comb through an exhaustive list of services that at first glance can be intimidating. The plus side of their onboarding is Northwest makes it very easy to open a free account without being charged for a service, so at least you won't be paying any money up front while you figure out exactly the product you need.
IncFile and Northwest are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to intuitive interfaces, since they target very different types of customers. IncFile standardizes and makes their onboarding workflow rigid and straightforward, helping to alleviate the anxiety of a first-time founder. Northwest, on the other hand, has a smorgasbord of jargon-loaded options that would create decision fatigue in a first-time founder — but are welcomed by seasoned entrepreneurs who know what services they need without hand-holding or high prices.
IncFile and Northwest are impossible to split on formation speed. IncFile offers next day business formation processing times, tied with Northwest for the fastest in the industry. If we're splitting hairs, Northwest offers same day processing for some states, technically faster than IncFile but it is safe to say both IncFile and Northwest are extremely quick for formation with speeds of one business day.
Incfile's one business day promise is among the fastest turnarounds on the market. They're able to accomplish this because they err on the side of rigid, clear-cut plans rather than customized packages. Note that time can lag in some states due to limitations on state processing systems.
Northwest's one business day processing time has become the gold-standard for business formation. With state processing times varying, the industry has adopted a mentality of processing applicants as swiftly as possible to help them form businesses quickly. Northwest's standardization of the application flow, while restrictive to unique circumstances, helps them achieve this speed in processing times.
Are they worth the cost?
IncFile is aimed at Solopreneurs. Their site consists of a number of resources around individuals turning their side hustles into full-time businesses, powered by IncFile. They also brag as social proof about the number of Entrepreneurs specifically that their product has helped. If you fall out of the solopreneur category i.e. looking for tax advantages or future fundraising, then the angle of IncFile may not be appropriate for you.
Northwest is more focused on established SMB and Bootstrapped Startups given its messaging heavily leans on the Registered Agent angle. This positioning towards an industry term assumes a certain level of knowledge from the prospect, rather than guiding first-time founders or solopreneurs through a flow of starting their business and all the services they may require. In that respect, Northwest is more direct - displaying clearly the service they provide and how they do it well for Businesses.
The NanoGlobals editor's rating for Incfile reflects the fact that while their pricing is among the lowest in the industry, the add-on and recurring fees often come as a surprise to first-time solopreneurs using the service. Incfile is a reliable service for customers who understand the fees and the fact that registered agent fees are recurring. Incfile gets strong marks for offering a transparent and simple package pricing scheme.
NanoGlobals editor's rating for Northwest reflects its standing as a solid middle of the pack option for business formation. Their lightning fast processing times have become the mark to which other services must match and their pricing is fair compared to the high-end. Points are deducted for their slightly confusing onboarding flow which creates a high propensity to choose non-applicable products. If you know exactly what service you need for your business, Northwest can be a great option but if you're at all unsure, Northwest isn't likely to make it easy to find the product right for you.