User experience & onboarding
Onboarding for LegalZoom aims to demystify legal services with respect to business formation. Optionality is built-in to the flow with micro-chat questionnaire to help business owners determine the right type of business formation along with options to pick from a set menu with transparent pricing. Add-ons populate throughout the onboarding, but given the transparent pricing up front, it isn't a surprise to any prospective business owner.
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.
LegalZoom is often held to a high standard for onboarding, and this doesn't change with a quick and easy experience for a business owner, helping them decipher between multiple seemingly similar legal documents. Stripe Atlas, with a solitary product line, would generally have the win here on onboarding over LegalZoom, and indeed once you get into the onboarding flow, Stripe Atlas is hard to beat. However, it's worth noting LegalZoom makes it slightly easier to enter the initial flow, not incurring account creation, compared to Stripe Atlas which insists on a Stripe account creation step first before signing up for the product.
LegalZoom tends to stray from the promise of tech with its slightly lethargic processing times of twenty business days. Stripe Atlas, by contrast, in true tech-forward fashion, simplifies their product order flow so much that it enables them to deliver swift 1 to 3 day business formation speeds to their International Founder clientele.
LegalZoom's twenty business day processing time is in the highest range for formation services. When compared to lawyers in general, this speed might seem swift, and indeed their services are indicative of the 'legaltech' market that reduces the cost of traditionally expensive legal advice. However, their formation speed is not up to scratch when compared to Business Formation-specific services that promise processing in a handful of days.
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?
LegalZoom is geared towards both the SMB and Solopreneur markets, with a strong emphasis on the individual business owner themselves. Their positioning is indicative of trying to be a one-stop-shop for businesses that have legal needs but are fearful of the costly retainers incurred by an in-house counsel or legal contractor. LegalZoom's products look to cover the breadth of what an SMB or Solopreneur business owner would need - not only professionally such as formation, trademarks, and ongoing contracts, but also personal with products for estate planning, family law, and real estate.
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 for LegalZoom reflects its comprehensive nature of legal services for an aspiring business owner. LegalZoom earns points for being more cost-efficient than regular attorney services along with ease of onboarding via chat and helpful introductory flows to their products. Unfortunately, they miss the mark on pricing and processing times when compared to the industry average, outweighing any perceived advantage of being legal experts since, like with all services in this formation niche, their recommendations don't constitute legal advice.
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.