How to start a US company from India?
You’re in India but want to start a company in the USA and operate it from India. Is it really possible? Totally possible. In this video, I’ll show you how you can start a totally legit online business in the USA sitting right here in India without even going there. Let’s go.
Ok, so you might be wondering why you wanna do this, isn’t? Why start a company in the USA when you can in India or somewhere else?
Well, what I’m about to say might be debatable but US companies have their benefits. You’d be part of the global economy, you’ll have better access to resources like payment systems, online tools, etc and if you need to scale in the future, by getting VC funds, etc, then being a U.S based company has its benefits. And of course, you have the status, like you could brag that you’re the CEO of a company in the US. No ones gonna know it’s a one-man show.
Who can do this?
Well, anyone who has an online business that doesn’t need you to be present physically in the US can start a company in the US. Say a blogging business or an SEO agency, or an e-commerce business. Anything.
As long as you’re not in the US, you can start a business in the USA. In fact, it’s a special option and you’re not supposed to have a legal presence in the USA in order to be able to do this.
Okay, so what are the ways by which you can start a company in the US?
I’m not an attorney or an expert at this so I’m not going to tell you the different types of companies out there and their differences. But just like in India, you have C-Corps, LLCs, S-Corps, and the like. Like you have Sole Proprietorship, PVT Ltd, etc in India.
Each has its own merits and demerits. But I believe one of the easiest businesses a non-US resident can start in the US are C-Corps and LLCs. And here’s how you can do it.
One is through a service called Stripe Atlas.
If you’re into website development and stuff you’d know what Stripe is. It’s a payment gateway for websites. Vaguely like PayPal. So this company incorporation service they’re doing is an extension of their service called Strip Atlas.
According to this service, all you have to do is sign up a form, pay a fee of $500 which is approximately 40,000 Rupees as of today. And wait for a few days. You’ll get a US business account, your legal company, your Tax ID etc. Every year, as running costs, around the same amount will need to be paid though.
Your company will be incorporated in Delaware Texas. It is one of the popular destinations in the USA for businesses to start, because of the several easy formalities and tax benefits.
So, essentially it’s super easy to start a business in the USA with Atlas Stripe. All you have to do is send in your documents, apply online and pay the $500 fees. In a few weeks, you’ll have the legal entity in your hands.
So, what are the issues of starting a company like this with Atlas Stripe?
It looks too good to be true, right?
Well, one major complaint is that people see it as a bait and switch method. This means they make it super easy for you to start a business technically, but once you do that, the real costs show up. For example, you’ll need to pay corporate taxes in the US. And for that, you’ll need to hire an attorney. And the cost of hiring an attorney through Stripe’s partners is super expensive.
If you’re trying to form an LLC then Stripe Atlas may not be able to help you as they are only doing C-Corps and you need to be a U.S.Citizen to be able to incorporate LLCs. So, that’s a bummer.
Also, you’ll need to use the Stripe payment gateway in order to be in their ecosystem and some complain that it may not be the best solution. So you’re getting tied to one product that you don’t know if you’ll be using.
Another issue is that you’d need to maintain a corporate banking account with one of the banks in the USA that Atlas Stripe has tied up with. There are a few banks available, but each of them have different minimum balance requirements or ongoing balance requirements. So you’d need to maintain those and if you don’t it could be a problem.
So, there are these issues that quite honestly, in my opinion, is subjective. Like many of these are advantages to someone trying to set up a legal presence for their company in the US. But for others, it might be a disadvantage as well.
Now, there is a second option to set up your company in the US, pretty much like Stripe Atlas but not in a cookie-cutter kind of way. It’s the traditional route where you can hire an attorney who’s an expert in setting up companies in USA.
And there are a set of folks who’re claiming that Wyoming is a better option than Delaware. Delaware is where Atlas Stripe lets you set up a business.
Wyoming on the other hand, offers better benefits, they claim. Like lesser setup fees, tax benefits, easier processing etc.
But there are no standard products or services like Atlas Stripe.
You’d need to go through an attorney so you’ll need to pay their fees and have you involved in every step of incorporation etc.
In a way, for those who prefer to have complete control and transparency over the process, this is a better route.
The third method is through another service that is similar to Atlas Stripe but some claim is slightly better. It’s called Firstbase.io.
Now First base does the exact same thing as Atlas Stripe but in a slightly better way and at a lower price.
Basically, you can start your company in seven simple steps.
One, start their online application, choose your company type, i.e LLC or Corporation, choose which state you want to incorporate in, describe your business, give your personal details, make your payment and you’re done.
First base has recently gotten popular and is a strong competitor for Atlas Stripe.
Many entrepreneurs prefer it because you can incorporate an LLC also, being a non-US resident, unlike Stripe which only offers C-Corps for non-US residents.
And their pricing is also very competitive.
The first year of setup including getting your legal documents, Tax ID, bank account etc costs only $399 which is a hundred dollars less than Stripe.
When you compare reviews online, there are many favoring Firebase to Stripe, so you can imagine why.
Now, beyond Stripe Atlas, Firebase and the private attorney way, there are two more easy ways to start your business in USA.
But these are not primarily intended for folks outside of USA. This means, they are focused on helping US.citizens or those living in USA set up their companies in US.
However, they are not only limited to it and offer their services to Non.U.S citizens – even though it’s not their forte.
So if you’re living outside of U.S.A, can pay the money online, and give your personal identification documents to start the setup process, they can do it for you.
One very popular such company is called Clerky.
They just have a one time fee of $799, which is on the higher side but you only have to pay them once you get your final documents in hand.
They can also do the Delaware, C Corporation setup like Atlas Stripe but at an expedited processing time of 2-3 business days. Wow, that is awesome! And it would cost you only $500.
Another such service is called Gust.com and they are focused on helping U.S residents and founders start, scale or accelerate their companies and offer legal support.
You can get started with just $300 for a Delaware C-Corporation like Atlas Stripe. But you don’t get a business bank account with it. It’s not very popular with non U.S residents as well.
So to summarize,
It is easy to start your company in the US if you have an online business.
Creating a C-Corporation in Delaware seems to the cheapest and simple option.
It costs about $500 to get started in the simplest way.
Comparing the services, Atlas Stripe and FirstBase seem to be excellent options for those outside of the U.S.
But FirstBase has an edge that they can also do LLCs and not just C-Corporations.
If you want more control and transparency, hiring an attorney to startup a Wyoming based company is also an option. But it’s going to be a custom tailor-made solution and is a non-standard way of doing things. It might turn out to be expensive depending on your case.
If you’re in a hurry and need to setup your company quickly in 2-3 days, then Clerky seems to be a good option.
Either way, I’d suggest that you consider the following before choosing any service.
Make sure you have all the legal documents in hand.
Make sure you get a business banking account for the company as part of the service. Because doing it yourself can be difficult.
Make sure you don’t need to travel to USA for any reason and do everything remotely.
Make sure you have access to an ecosystem of people and tools if possible, so you are not alone when looking for solutions.
And finally, make sure there are no hidden charges like extra charge for taxation services etc.
So there you have it guys, setting up a business in U.S.A is super easy these days.
All you need is 500 dollars, personal identification documents and a business idea.
Hope you like the video. Let me know if you have any comments, suggestions and ideas. Also, check out my other videos if you like.
See you next week, this is Mani Karthik – signing off.