Stripe Atlas vs Clerky

Features, pricing, and contract terms compared

Patrick Ward Patrick Ward Follow Published: Sep 27, 2022

Stripe Atlas and Clerky both aim at Silicon Valley but from two very different lenses. Stripe Atlas targets overseas founders who are looking to break into the U.S. market, specifically with the goal of becoming the next Silicon Valley Unicorn. On the other hand, Clerky aims to be the legal one-stop-shop for Silicon Valley startups specifically, with a broad reach of legal services beyond business formation.

Content on this page does not constitute financial advice. It is intended for general information purposes only.

Stripe Atlas

3.2/5 stars

Stripe Atlas' primary goal is to help International Founders get started in the U.S. compliantly so that they can begin selling. It seems obvious, but Stripe's motivation is founded on payments so the Stripe Atlas service is aimed at getting International Founders' Startups billing as swiftly as possible so that Stripe can further cross-sell other payment-based products.

Clerky

4.1/5 stars

Clerky's goal to help Silicon Valley entrepreneurs is more geared towards avoidance - specifically avoiding lawsuits. While Clerky too wants Silicon Valley startups to form their business as quickly as possible, their angle is towards compliance and setting up a corporate structure that enables the entrepreneur to scale their Startup appropriately while avoiding legal hurdles that can be incurred with starting, growing, and maintaining a legal entity.

Summary of key differences

FeatureStripe AtlasClerky
Entry price$500$99 + state fees
Standard processing time1-3 business days2-3 business days
Foreign qualification fee Not offered $125

Pricing Analysis: Stripe Atlas vs Clerky

Stripe Atlas, by simplifying the entire business formation process, sits on the high end in terms of pricing. Their $500 price tag, although inclusive of state fees, is still substantial to stomach - indeed, likely only worth it to International Founders who have limited options for U.S. business formation compared to domestic founders. Clerky is a much more palatable $99 + state fees for their starter business formation package. Stripe Atlas, however, is more affordable on the renewal with a $100 annual registered agent fee compared to Clerky's $125 fee for the same service.

Stripe Atlas pricing

The base pricing from Stripe Atlas is less expensive than Clerky.

Clerky pricing

Clerky is the more expensive formation service offering compared with Stripe Atlas. 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.

Stripe Atlas vs Clerky market value analysis

Market average based on analysis of 9 formation services providers.
MetricMarket AverageStripe AtlasClerky
Lowest package price$156 before state fees$500$99 + state fees
Formation processing time9 business days1-3 business days2-3 business days
Registered agent annual cost$152 Not offered $125

User experience & onboarding

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.

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.

Stripe Atlas, with a solitary service, has a much smoother onboarding flow than most of its competitors. While the simplicity of one offering makes Stripe Atlas a breeze to start a business formation process, there is a slight barrier to entry of signing up for a Stripe account first before proceeding. Clerky too prompts account creation before purchase, but also adopts simplicity when presenting its services to a tech-savvy audience with a binary choice: an all-inclusive package of legal services or an a-la-carte menu.

Formation speed

Stripe Atlas holds its own in the industry with a respectably swift business formation processing time of one to three business days. Clerky, unlike other legaltech products, is no slouch either, enabling Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to form businesses with two to three days of processing time. Stripe Atlas just beats Clerky, which isn't surprising given the relative simplicity of Stripe Atlas' singular offering compared to Clerky's multiple services.

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.

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.

Are they worth the cost?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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