Clerky vs. Firstbase: Which service is better for startups?

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What does an entrepreneur looking to form an entity in the US need to become compliant with the law? Find out in this Clerky vs. Firstbase comparison.

Lifetime subscription or pay-per-use
$399 one-time fee
Best For:
Startups looking for help in legal filing of their C-Corp formation and incorporation documents for compliance
Best For:
Business owners looking to incorporate, aspiring agency owners, and professionals
Lifetime subscription or pay-per-use
Best For:
Startups looking for help in legal filing of their C-Corp formation and incorporation documents for compliance
$399 one-time fee
Best For:
Business owners looking to incorporate, aspiring agency owners, and professionals

Launching a startup in a new market like the U.S. can be a tricky endeavor.

You have to deal with legal matters like filing paperwork and forming an entity.

Without the knowledge of how these backend processes work, you can end up violating the law.

However, with incorporation and business formation services, you can relax and let them do the work for you.

Two prominent formation services gaining praise are Clerky and Firstbase.

Clerky is an online legal service that helps startups incorporate a Delaware C-Corp by filing their legal paperwork for compliance with US law.

Firstbase is a formation service that helps startups incorporate an LLC, C-Corp, and partnership in Delaware and any other US state.

However, with both services offering similar features, how do they compare, and which offers value for money?

Let us find out in this Clerky vs. Firstbase Comparison.

Clerky vs. Firstbase at a glance

SMB Guide’s Rating7/107.7/10Firstbase
Business Formation ServicesFocuses on C CorpsMultiple entity typesFirstbase
Processing Time2-3 days turnaround3-7 daysClerky
Registered Agent Services and Costs1st year free, $125/yr1st year free, $99/yrFirstbase
Name Availability SearchOffers suggestionsClerky
Online Document AccessFully integrated storageLimited document storageClerky
Money-Back GuaranteesNone7 daysFirstbase
Platform User-FriendlinessEasy to use with simple interfaceCluttered and hard to navigateClerky
Customization OptionsFirstbase
Compliance AssistanceClerky
Industry-Specific ExpertiseEstablished in 2011Founded in 2019Clerky
Customer Education and ResourcesTie
Customer SupportPhone, emailLive chat, email, dedicated repFirstbase
Pricing$819 one-time$399 one-timeFirstbase
ScalabilityNot scalableNot scalableTie

How we evaluate and test softwares

When testing softwares/apps, SMB Guide employs a dual approach based on free trial availability and demos. For platforms offering free trials, we test their functionalities, usability, navigation, and ease of use. In the case of tools lacking a free version or trial, we rely on in-depth research and user testimonials through software review platforms like G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius to gauge their performance and capabilities. Learn more about our ratings criteria for business formation services here.

Clerky: Key Features, Pros and Cons, & Pricing

clerky homepage

Clerky is an online legal service that helps startups file their legal paperwork for compliance with US law.

The service allows for forming one entity, C-Corp, in Delaware state.

However, unlike most formation and incorporation services, Clerky provides post-incorporation services.

Some of these include hiring, maintenance, and fundraising. Once an entrepreneur fills out the formation forms for their startup, the Clerky software sets up the C-Corp.

From there, the service submits the documents to a registered agent who files them with the State.

Pros & Cons


Fundraising support

Option for pay-per-service

Native collaboration features

Legal compliance for startups


Only does C-Corps

No money-back guarantee


Startups are given the choice between two payment options: a one-time fee or a pay-per-use model.

The one-time payment plan is the universal package that covers a range of services.

However, if you require a specific service, like formation alone, you can select the pay-per-use package.

Company Lifetime Package: It is a one-time fee of $819, and access to all the services.

Firstbase: Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

Firstbase homepage

Firstbase is a service that helps startups form, launch, and manage their ventures in the US.

The service mainly focuses on incorporating a startup as an LLC or C-Corp in Wyoming and Delaware. 

The service goes beyond formation, where it opens a bank account for you with partner banks like Mercury.

Firstbase also offers incentives in the form of credits worth thousands of dollars through the service network.

If you aren’t a US citizen, Firstbase can also help in the formation and incorporation process.

Pros & Cons


One-time free

Quick processing

Hands-on customer support

Great for startups


Limited state availability

Not scalability


Startups will find that Firstbase has a single pricing plan. The package offers a free trial of 7 days, and all state filing fees are inclusive.

  • Firstbase Start: $399 one-time fee

Firstbase helps anyone to build a US business. Start a company, set up banking, payments, and payroll, and manage a business — online, from anywhere.

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Business Formation Services

Clerky focuses on C-Corps formation, particularly those startups looking for venture capital funding.

C-Corps are common since they offer favorable tax cuts, so Clerky helps entrepreneurs form them in Delaware.

However, unlike Firstbase, Clerky doesn’t offer any other entity type.

Now, entrepreneurs will also find that Clerky documents aren’t customizable.

They don’t have options for tweaking clauses or the terms. Unlike Firstbase, the post-incorporation support from Clerky is more comprehensive.

Clerky can help hire your staff, issue stock options, and more.

Firstbase business formation services

Firstbase offers entrepreneurs more entity types for business formation (S-Corps, C-Corps, and LLCs).

The service also caters to non-US citizens. It helps them with bank account opening, getting an EIN, and more.

In contrast to Clerky, entrepreneurs using Firstbase have more customization options, enabling them to edit terms and add clauses to tailor legal documents to their specific needs.

However, it’s important to note that Firstbase’s post-incorporation services are relatively basic compared to the more comprehensive offerings provided by Clerky.

Winner: Firstbase

Processing Time

The processing times offered by Clerky are fast, with a 2-3 days turnaround. This is after the completion payment and online questionnaire since it uses online filing.

One thing to note is that government processing times may vary with the state of incorporation. 

However, it takes 1-2 days for the state to process the paperwork in Delaware.

Unlike Firstbase, Clerky doesn’t offer expedited services since they say their processing time is quick.

Firstbase processing time

Firstbase, processing times take 3-7 days for filing documents. It is after payment and completion of filling out online forms.

Like Clerky, the services are online, and the government services turnaround will depend on the state of formation. 

Unlike Clerky, Firstbase provides expedited services for an additional charge of $99.

This expedited service can be beneficial as it helps to reduce the government processing time, allowing for faster business formation and incorporation.

Winner: Clerky

Registered Agent Services and Costs

Entrepreneurs will find that Clerky offers free registered agent services. However, it is for the first year after formation, and you pay $125 annually from the second year.

The services are reliable, and you receive paperwork and legal services timely. The service uploads your business paperwork to your account and encrypts them for security.

In contrast to Firstbase, Clerky offers extensive post-incorporation compliance support, including tasks like handling franchise tax payments and assisting with seed funding efforts.

What’s more, entrepreneurs receive timely alerts to notify them of impending tax deadlines.

There are no extra charges incurred from the registered agent for their services, apart from the state fees.

These state fees amount to $90 for the initial year and $225 for subsequent years.

Firstbase registered agent services

Startups will also find that Firstbase offers free registered agent services for the first year after formation.

However, unlike Clerky, the subsequent years’ charges are lower at $99 annually.

Similar to Clerky, the services are reliable, where you receive paperwork and legal services timely.

The service uploads your business paperwork to your account and encrypts them for security.

Unlike Clerky, the compliance support on Firstbase is basic post-incorporation.

Entrepreneurs don’t get reminders when tax filing is nearing or due. Like Clerky, there are no additional charges for the registered agent for service besides state fees, which are $90 for the first year and $225 after.

Winner: Firstbase

Name Availability Search

Clerky provides a user-friendly name search tool that is easy to navigate. Entrepreneurs can conveniently access this tool while completing their application forms on the website.

Entering a name and state you want to form your business on the tool will tell if it’s available.

If it’s unavailable, some suggestions with alternate names will pop up for you to pick.

Clerky business name search

Clerky’s tool is accurate since it combines the up-to-date state database and its algo to find suitable names without trademarks. It gives an accuracy of 99%.

Unlike the Firstbase tool, Clerky gives top-notch feedback and suggestions on why a specific name is ideal.

Compared to Clerky, the name search tool on Firstbase is more complex because it’s not as seamlessly integrated into the system.

Access to the name search tool on Firstbase is available through the website’s blog or homepage, rather than directly through the online application forms.

firstbase business name search

Entering a name and state you want to form your business on the tool will tell if it’s available.

However, unlike Clerky, Firstbase doesn’t offer suggestions. You have to keep trying different names.

The tool is also less accurate than Clerky since it uses cached data from state databases.

It makes it have errors and delays with the results and availability.

Winner: Clerky

Online Document Access

Startups will appreciate that Clerky offers fully integrated storage services for an unlimited number of documents, a feature not available in Firstbase.

This platform consolidates all documents in one convenient location, simplifying access through an efficient filtering system.

Clerky document access

Retrieving documents on Clerky is simple. You have to first login to your account and, from there, share through email or download them.

The service also sends notifications to you whenever an update happens.

In contrast to Firstbase, Clerky takes additional security measures by backing up documents on their servers and encrypting them, ensuring the safety and protection of sensitive information.

firstbase document management

Unlike Clerky, Firstbase offers startups limited document storage since the system integration is partial.

Entrepreneurs have to use a third-party partner, DocuSign, to store documents. The system also doesn’t centralize documents; finding a specific one can be challenging.

Document retrieval in Firstbase involves a more complex process, requiring users to log in to their accounts and utilize DocuSign to access their paperwork.

Unlike Clerky, Firstbase doesn’t perform frequent document backups, but it relies on encryption for document security.

Winner: Clerky

Money-Back Guarantees

Clerky does not explicitly state that they offer a money-back guarantee, which is worth noting for startups considering their services.

One thing they say is that they only charge after finalizing the document filing.

It means they don’t offer a money-back guarantee.Similar to Firstbase, Clerky may leave startups concerned about their peace of mind if the process does not go as planned.

Unlike Clerky, Firstbase offers a money-back guarantee of 7 days, but without state fees and other third-party charges.

It applies to the applicable state and the EIN application before filing for company registration.

However, once the documents get submitted to the government, entrepreneurs cannot request a refund.

Winner: Firstbase

Platform User-Friendliness

Startups will find a Clerky site easy to use with a simple design and a responsive menu bar.

The platform also has clearly defined instructions on the formation process.

Entrepreneurs get helpful support, a questionnaire, and an FAQ section answering common problems.

Clerky dashboard

Now, completing business formation steps on Clerky is easy. First, you fill out an online form with questions about your venture, sign the paperwork electronically, and finally make the payments.

Unlike Firstbase, Clerky accepts bank transfers, credit and debit cards.

Entrepreneurs may encounter challenges on the Firstbase website, as it appears cluttered with a menu that is hard to locate.

Additionally, the platform provides limited formation process instructions and lacks comprehensive FAQs.

The only available support channel is through email, which may be less convenient for users seeking assistance.

Firstbase dashboard

Completing business formation steps on Firstbase is easy. First, you fill out an online form with questions about your venture, sign the paperwork, and make the payments.

Unlike Clerky, Firstbase accepts Stripe only as a payment gateway.

Winner: Clerky

Customization Options

Clerky does not offer customization options for users. The service asserts that professional attorneys have meticulously crafted the paperwork, eliminating the need for adjustments or modifications by users.

Not only that, startups only get to form a Delaware C-Corp entity, unlike Firstbase, which offers more.

Firstbase offers customization options, unlike Clerky for business formation. Startups can choose a template to edit to fit their brand.

Entrepreneurs can also use their own documents drafted by an attorney. Unlike Clerky, Firstbase offers more entity types of LLCs, S-Corps, and C-Corps.

Firstbase also offers incorporation in all US states, unlike Clerky.

Winner: Firstbase

Compliance Assistance

Clerky provides a valuable feature by offering free annual tax filing services, and they also proactively send notifications to users as the due date approaches, ensuring entrepreneurs stay on top of their tax obligations.

Not only that, the service provides forms and guidance on updating corporate info through their site.

Entrepreneurs also get compliance notifications when new laws pass through SMS or email.

Firstbase offers free annual tax filing services, but unlike Clerky, they do it manually.

The service also sends reminders when a due date is near through email.

Now, unlike Clerky, Firstbase doesn’t provide corporate info updates, entrepreneurs have to do it themselves.

Winner: Clerky

Industry-Specific Expertise

Clerky services focuses on startups looking to form a Delaware C-Corp. The service even optimizes its documents for startups that need to hire staff, issue stocks, and more.

Unlike Firstbase, Clerky has industry expertise with attorneys who work with startups.

The attorneys and investors vet the documents and offer guidance on compliance and funding.

Clerky provides startups with a unique advantage compared to Firstbase by offering access to an extensive network of investors and attorneys through a forum.

This creates valuable opportunities for learning and networking that are not available on the Firstbase platform.

Unlike Clerky, which niches down,entrepreneurs will discover that Firstbase serves a broader range of industries, catering to a wider spectrum of business needs and preferences.

Not only that, the services cater to non-US citizens who want to venture into the US.

In contrast to Clerky, Firstbase does not have experts available to review and verify documents, nor do they offer guidance on compliance matters, which could be a significant difference for users in need of such support.

Startups must depend on themselves to find professionals who will guide them through the processes.

Winner: Clerky

Customer Education and Resources

Clerky’s content is reliable because attorneys create it and get vetted by investors.

Users will also find in-depth content covering all business formation and incorporation aspects.

clerky help center

Not only that, the content matches the needs of startups looking for funding and reflects US laws like corporate law.

Accessing the content is also easy through the knowledge base and articles that are on the website.

firstbase help center

The content provided by Firstbase is considered general and relatively basic because it is not authored by experts and lacks vetting.

Nevertheless, it does cover fundamental information about forming various business structures, such as LLCs, S-Corps, and C-Corps, including guidance for non-U.S. citizens.

Accessing the content is easy through their help center and the FAQ section.

Winner: Tie

Customer Support

Users should anticipate average support from Clerky. The primary channels for contacting support are through email and phone.

However, it’s important to note that response times can be relatively long, taking 5-8 hours, which might be inconvenient, especially in urgent situations.

Clerky also lacks a dedicated representative to help in the formation process, unlike Firstbase.

Not only that, Clerky can’t offer legal representation. Startups can expect to reach customer support through a live chat and email.

Live chat response times are 5-15 minutes, and email is up to 24 hours.

Unlike Clerky, Firstbase has a dedicated representative that guides your business’s formation.

Winner: Firstbase


Clerky and Firstbase offer similar one-time payment packages that include comparable services.

Clerky charges a one-time fee of $819 for the Lifetime package. One thing to note is that the fee excludes state fees and any other additional charges.

Firstbase plan costs $399 one-time payment, offering extensive business formation services.

However, unlike Clerky, the plan is cheaper, which suits low-budget entrepreneurs.

The fee is not inclusive of state charges and other fees.

Winner: Firstbase


Clerky doesn’t provide scalable plans, so you only have the lifetime plans’ services.

It suits venture-backed startups that only need to form a C-Corp in Delaware and don’t require extensive support.

Firstbase also has one plan that isn’t scalable. However, it fits startups of varied sizes, niches, and stages.

The startups that want to form multiple entities (LLC, C-Corp, or partnerships) need support in the incorporation processes.

Winner: Tie

Standout Features of Clerky

Clerky provides several unique features beyond business formation and incorporation that are not available in Firstbase.

Here are some of the features you can find in Clerky:

Document standardization

The service works with attorneys who have extensive experience with startups.

The attorneys draft the paperwork, vet it, and get it approved by law firms in the US.

It makes the paperwork follow business formation best practices for startups, making them credible.

Regulatory update alerts

Startups will find that Clerky offers regulatory updates when a law changes that can impact a startup.

The alerts help startups comply with US laws and avoid penalties. Not only that, the service offers expert guidance through email and SMS on how to stay compliant.

Standout Features of Firstbase

Entrepreneurs will find that Firstbase provides unique features besides incorporation. Here are two that Clerky lacks, but you can find on Firstbase.

Tax service

Entrepreneurs will find a tax service feature that will help them file taxes. It is a feature that can help you claim tax relief and avoid IRS audits.

The service partners with Taxfyle, a platform that links you to accountants who can guide you on tax filing.

Startups also get EIN, 1099, and W-9 forms.

Mail service

Startups will find that Firstbase can act as a registered agent service for them where they can receive mail.

The service also has an online dashboard where entrepreneurs can upload custom paperwork remotely.

Not only that, if you live outside the US, Firstbase can send mail to your address.

Clerky vs. Firstbase: SMB Guide’s Verdict

In our comparison of Clerky and Firstbase, both platforms offer valuable business formation and incorporation services.

However, each platform has its own unique features and strengths, as highlighted in this comparison.

Understanding the major differences between them can help entrepreneurs and startups make an informed choice based on their specific needs and priorities.

However, after comparing them, we find Clerky as the winner, and here is why.

Clerky is comprehensive, offering reliable services targeting startups looking for venture financing.

Clerky’s document standardization is top-notch, with experienced attorneys drafting the paperwork and vetting it to match startup needs.

Not only that, the customer education and resources are in-depth, covering all aspects of a startup business formation and incorporation.

The combination of all these features gives Clerky an edge and wins this duel.

Firstbase is a decent alternative offering more customization options to documents and even requests for expedited service.

However, the lack of regular document backup and comprehensive post-incorporation services made it lose to Clerky.

Choose Clerky If:

You are a startup looking to form a Delaware C-Corp and want venture financing.

Choose Firstbase If:

You’re an entrepreneur looking to form an LLC, C-Corp, or S-Corp in any of the US states, even if you’re a non-US citizen.


Firstbase helps anyone to build a US business. Start a company, set up banking, payments, and payroll, and manage a business — online, from anywhere.

Get started
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Jessica Pereira helps SaaS and digital marketing brands build long-lasting customer relationships with meaningful content. Her favorite topics include career development, productivity, and email marketing.