Stripe Atlas vs. Clerky: Which startup service is better?

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Which business incorporation platform provides the best services to comply with U.S. law

Find out which to pick in this Stripe Atlas vs. Clerky comparison.

 
 
3.7
3.5
Pricing:
$500 + $100/year
Pricing:
$427 to $819
Best For:
Startups in the e-commerce and tech industry looking for a formation service with an integrated payment processor.
Best For:
Startups looking for help in legal filing of their C-Corp formation and incorporation documents for compliance.
3.7
Pricing:
$500 + $100/year
Best For:
Startups in the e-commerce and tech industry looking for a formation service with an integrated payment processor.
3.5
Pricing:
$427 to $819
Best For:
Startups looking for help in legal filing of their C-Corp formation and incorporation documents for compliance.

Looking for a simple and fast way to form an LLC or corporation in the US? Then, you need a formation service to guide you through the crucial legal intricacies. 

Stripe Atlas and Clerky are two services that can help you launch in less than 4 days.

However, how do their services compare? Let’s find out in this Stripe Atlas vs. Clerky comparison.

Stripe Atlas vs. Clerky at a Glance

FeatureStripe AtlasClerkyWinner
SMB Guide’s Rating7.5/107/10Stripe Atlas
Business Formation Services1-3 days2-3 daysStripe Atlas
Processing Time5 to 14 days1-3 daysStripe Atlas
Registered Agent Services and Costs$100/year1st year free, $125/yrStripe Atlas
Name Availability SearchTie
Online Document AccessClerky
Money-Back GuaranteesTie
Platform User-FriendlinessSimple interfaceSimple interfaceTie
Customization OptionsTie
Compliance AssistanceClerky
Industry-Specific ExpertiseFounded in 2010Founded in 2011Stripe Atlas
Customer Education and ResourcesStripe Atlas
Customer SupportEmail and support ticketsPhone, emailTie
Pricing$500 + $100/year$427 to $819Clerky
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, TrustRadius, Software Advice, and GetApp to gauge their performance and capabilities. Learn more about our ratings criteria for business formation services here.

Stripe Atlas: Key Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

stripe atlas homepage

Stripe Atlas is a subsidiary of Stripe products and works as a business formation and incorporation service.

It targets US and non-US-based entrepreneurs looking to form an entity to venture into the US market.

Entrepreneurs can incorporate an LLC or C-Corp in Delaware, where the services support getting an EIN for tax. 

Stripe Atlas offers companies other services, including issuing founder equity, filing an 83(b) tax election, and more.

The best part is that startups get access to the Stripe ecosystem and products, including the payment gateway.

Pros & Cons

Pros

Exclusive discounts

Stripe ecosystem

Built for founders

Automated process

Cons

Only LLC’s and C-Corps

Focus on Delaware incorporation

Pricing

Stripe Atlas’ pricing model is straightforward. It charges a one-time fee of $500 for business formation processes.

Although pricey, the fee includes benefits like a 24-hour expedited process, EIN, and more. 

Stripe Atlas also offers add-on services like registered agents that cost $100 billed annually after the first year.

The good thing is that the service has no contract, and businesses can unsubscribe at any time.

Clerky: Key Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

clerky homepage

Clerky is a formation service that helps entrepreneurs form a C-Corp in Delaware.

Unlike Stripe Atlas, Clerky doesn’t offer LLC entity formation. It only supports C-Corp, which doesn’t suit most startups.

However, Clerky offers more post-incorporation services than Stripe Atlas.

They include a legal dashboard, hiring, and fundraising, besides the basic ones like EIN, RA, and report filing.

Pros & Cons

Pros

Fundraising support

Option for pay-per-service

Native collaboration features

Legal compliance for startups

Cons

Only does C-Corps

No money-back guarantee

Pricing

Clerky has a pricing model offering startups a choice between a one-time payment or pay-per-use.

Now, picking the Lifetime plan comes with a universal package. However, if you only need a specific service like hiring or fundraising, you can pay for it per use.

So, here is what is included in the packages:

  • Company lifetime package: $819 one-time
  • Pay per use: $427 one-time fee

Business Formation Services

Stripe Atlas and Clerky offer incorporation services to startups where they can choose an entity type that fits their situation.

Stripe Atlas offers LLCs and C-Corp as the entity types entrepreneurs can form a business within Delaware.

stripe atlas business formation

On the other hand, Clerky only offers a C-Corp for company formation.

While C-corps are ideal for raising venture capital, most small businesses find LLCs suitable.

With customization, startups get legal documentation from both services during incorporation.

However, the customization options offered by Clerky are more advanced. For example, an entrepreneur can pick a stock option plan or board size.

With Stripe Atlas, the customization is rigid, lacking Clerky’s many options. Besides the standard formation services, both platforms offer comprehensive features like compliance support, tax filing, and more.

However, Stripe Atlas has an edge over Clerky because it offers more post-formation services.

For example, startups get a free Stripe account, ledger, and US bank account.

Winner: Stripe Atlas

Processing Time

If a business has an SSN (ITIN), Stripe Atlas takes 1-3 days to file paperwork with the Delaware State.

For businesses without ITIN, it takes 15-30 days. The process involves generating paperwork, filing, and getting an EIN from the IRS.

Stripe Atlas states that government turnaround times are unpredictable and requests businesses to allow some buffer time.

However, you can request expedited service if you pay the initial incorporation fee of $500. After payment, the document processing and filing can take less than 24- hours.

On the other hand, Clerky offers a fast turnaround of 2-3 days. The fast processing time is after payment and completing an online questionnaire since it uses online filing.

Like Stripe Atlas, Clerky also states that government processing times may vary with the state of incorporation. 

However, normally, it can take 1-2 days for the state to process the paperwork in Delaware. Unlike Stripe Atlas, Clerky doesn’t offer expedited services.

They claim their processing time is quick.

Winner: Stripe Atlas

Registered Agent Services and Costs

Startups can access registered agent services on Stripe Atlas. After paying the initial $500 formation fee, you’ll get the service for free in the first year.

Now, after the first year, businesses can opt for ongoing services for $100 billed annually.

Like Clerky, Stripe Atlas registered agent services are top-notch. The platform partners with Legalinc, a well-known company specializing in registered agent services.

It acts as a liaison between Delaware State and the startup. The services offered include incorporation, US bank account opening, document access through a dashboard, and more.

On the other hand, Clerky also offers registered agent services. After incorporation, the first year is free, but you pay $125 annually from the second year.

The service is reliable, and startups receive paperwork and legal services timely. Like Stripe Atlas, Clerky uploads your business paperwork to your account and encrypts it for security.

However, unlike Stripe Atlas, Clerky provides comprehensive compliance support post-incorporation.

For example, Clerky supports paying franchise taxes and raising seed funding.

The best part is that businesses don’t get additional charges from the service besides state fees, which are $90 for the first year and $225 after.

Winner: Stripe Atlas

Name Availability Search

Using the Stripe Atlas name search tool will offer a more in-depth search globally in over 100+ countries.

Not only that, the search covers top domains like (.net and .com). The tool is also fast and only requires typing in a keyword to search.You can also filter the names by region.

stripe atlas name-search tool

Unlike Clerky, Stripe Atlas checks for trademark conflicts through the USPTO and EUIPO.

The best part is that the tool recommends alternative, catchy, and relevant business names if the first choice is unavailable.

clerky business name search

Clerky name search tool focuses on local state databases covering domains like (, com, co).

The tool is slower than Stripe Atlas and requires typing more terms before a search. After clicking on the search, it opens a new window displaying the results.

Now, like Stripe Atlas, Clerky checks for trademark conflicts through the USPTO.

However, unlike Stripe Atlas, Clerky doesn’t recommend a business name in case the first choice is unavailable.

Winner: Tie

Online Document Access

Stripe Atlas provides a comprehensive solution for document access. It makes it easy to access paperwork through its digital dashboard.

Through it, you can view, share, or download documents through email, Google Drive, or Dropbox.

Some documents you can access include certificates, tax IDs, notices, and more.

Besides the standard features, Stripe Atlas has add-ons like an e-signature and automated doc generation.

Not only that, you can also access resources and experts to help in other business formation processes.

Clerky also allows businesses to access their paperwork through an online portal.

Entrepreneurs can view or download the documents as a PDF or HTML. Some documents you can access include agreements, certificates, and more.

Now, unlike Stripe Atlas, startups can review or customize the documents. For example, an entrepreneur can edit a clause in a document to fit their needs.

Not only that, a startup can request a review from Clerky’s dedicated attorney.

Winner: Clerky

Money Back Guarantees

Entrepreneurs will not find any money-back guarantee offered by Stripe Atlas. So, as a startup, if you decide to dissolve your company, remember you won’t receive any refund. 

With satisfaction guarantees, the service doesn’t guarantee their services will meet businesses’ expectations.

Not only that, Stripe Atlas states that users cannot claim any liability for losses from its services.

On the other hand, Clerky doesn’t explicitly state that they provide a money-back guarantee.

They only say that they only charge after finalizing the document filing. By default, they don’t offer a money-back or satisfaction guarantee.

Like Stripe Atlas, Clerky doesn’t offer peace of mind to entrepreneurs who subscribe to it.

Winner: Tie

Platform User-Friendliness

The design of Stripe Atlas is modern, with a simple menu showing the key features. The menu links quickly to services like tax consulting, company formation, banking, and more.

Stripe Atlas dashboard

The onboarding process on Stripe Atlas is also simple. The platform offers guiding steps to entrepreneurs on business incorporation.

The steps include application to Stripe Atlas, initial payment of setup, and form submission.

Unlike Clerky, Stripe Atlas provides a free Stripe account besides credit and debit cards.

Clerky dashboard

Clerky also has a traditional, simple design and a responsive menu bar. The platform also has clearly defined instructions on the business formation process.

Users get helpful support, a questionnaire, and an FAQ section that answers the most common queries.

Now, completing business formation steps on Clerky is easy. Here is how the process goes:

  1. Fill out an online form with questions about your venture
  2. Sign the paperwork electronically
  3. Make the payments

Like Stripe Atlas, Clerky accepts bank transfers and credit cards.

Winner: Tie

Customization Options

Businesses get a basic package with fixated services during entity incorporation in Delaware with Stripe Atlas.

However, entrepreneurs can choose from more entities (LLCs and C-Corp) than in Clerky (C-Corp only).

Unlike Clerky, Stripe Atlas lacks incorporation customization of formation services like legal framework or picking a different state.

Not only that, startups cannot amend bylaws or issue new shares. However, the formation package is decent, with tax consultation and EIN registration.

On the other hand, Clerky offers a flexible solution when forming a C-Corp in the US.

You can create legal frameworks and use templates for your documentation.

Entrepreneurs also access legal support when creating agreements, stock plans, and more.

However, unlike Stripe Atlas, Clerky only offers one entity type: C-Corp. Ultimately, unlike Stripe Atlas, the platform offers versatile services that you can tweak to suit your company.

Winner: Tie

Compliance Assistance

The compliance support from Stripe Atlas is minimal compared to Clerky. The service only sends alerts and guides for filing taxes and business info updates. 

Unlike Clerky, these services require entrepreneurs to do them themselves or use third-party services to stay compliant.

On the positive side, Stripe Atlas partners with PWC to provide a free tax consultation with startups.

Unlike Stripe Atlas, Clerky offers proactive compliance support to startups. Entrepreneurs can view their tax filing due dates and compliance tasks through an online portal.

The platform also automates document filing and charges the necessary fees directly from linked credit cards. 

Not only that, the platform also provides access to legal services from an attorney and documentation.

It helps them maintain their records up to date and comply with the law.

Winner: Clerky

Industry-Specific Expertise

Non-US entrepreneurs, mainly in tech, looking to venture into the US market are the main target of Stripe Atlas.

The platform tailors its services to provide financial support through discounts from partners like AWS and Mercury Bank.

Stripe Atlas also gives access to the Stripe ecosystem, which has a payment gateway.

Clerky targets US startups looking for legal support in forming a company that can access venture funding.

Given that C-Corp formation is more complex, Clerky specializes in creating legal frameworks for company formation through attorneys. 

The service helps create founder agreements, stock grants, and more. Businesses can also use templates to form their legal structures.

Winner: Stripe Atlas

Customer Education and Resources

Startups will find in-depth guides and extensive resources on Stripe Atlas covering topics like compliance and scaling a startup.

Experts are the authors of the guides and tutorials. They share their expert tips and hacks on business formation and everyday operations.

However, unlike Clerky, the Stripe Atlas platform hosts events like webinars and workshops where entrepreneurs learn from the experts first-hand.

Plus, startups that need a quick answer to a query will also find a helpful help center.

Clerky also provides businesses with guides and tutorials written by experts. The content in the guides and articles is in-depth, covering all aspects of business formation and incorporation.

The content in the guides matches the needs of startups looking for funding and reflects US laws like corporate law.

The content is also accessible through the knowledge base and articles on the blog.

Winner: Stripe Atlas

Customer Support

Reaching out to the support team on Stripe Atlas is through 2 support channels: phone and email.

The response times can take up to 24 hours, which can be inconvenient for emergencies.

However, the support team can help startups with technical issues using the software.

Like Clerky, Stripe Atlas doesn’t have a dedicated representative. Startups must work independently.

Phone and email are the 2 channels that startups can use to reach support on Clerky.

The response times can take 5-8 hours, which is inconvenient in an emergency. Clerky also lacks a dedicated representative to help in the formation process.

Not only that, Clerky can’t offer legal representation. Startups must hire attorneys independently.

Winner: Tie

Pricing

Stripe Atlas charges a setup fee of $500 and a recurring annual fee of $100 after one year of formation.

Unlike Clerky, the service lacks add-on services that you can buy as standalone. One thing to note is that the charges don’t include state fees or third-party services.

Clerky also provides a one-time payment package of $819 for the Lifetime package.

In addition, Clerky offers a pay-per-use package priced at a $427 one-time fee.

The fee excludes state fees and any other additional charges.

Winner: Clerky

Scalability

Stripe Atlas doesn’t offer scalable plans to businesses. The package is a one-time fee, and if a startup needs ongoing support, they can subscribe to the annual registered agent services.

Clerky doesn’t provide scalable plans; you can only purchase the lifetime plan and pay-per-use services.

You can also opt for a registered agent after the first year for ongoing support.

Winner: Tie

Standout Features of Stripe Atlas

Startups will find that Stripe Atlas provides unique features besides formation and incorporation. Here are two that Clerky lacks.

Payment processing

Stripe Atlas is a product of the Stripe ecosystem, allowing it to integrate seamlessly with the payment processor.

The platform also provides APIs for e-commerce like billing and anti-fraud.

Stripe partner benefits

The platform partners with big companies like Mercury Bank and AWS, offering exclusive benefits and discounts to startups.

The benefits come in handy in saving resources and gaining access to premium services.

Standout Features of Clerky

Clerky offers some unique services besides formation and business incorporation. Here are 2 that Stripe Atlas lacks:

Legal dashboard

Accessing the Clerky dashboard gives you an overview of all due dates and legal tasks that need completion.

They can include updating business data or filing annual returns.

Legal documents and services

Startups can access legal documentation and services like agreements on Clerky.

The services come in handy in helping startups form and run a company legally in the US.

Stripe Atlas vs. Clerky: SMB Guide’s Verdict

Our Stripe Atlas vs. Clerky comparison shows that both platforms share similarities in their business formation services.

However, their approach and flexibility of their services differ. After evaluating all factors about the platforms, Stripe Atlas narrowly edges Clerky.

Here is why: It offers US and non-US entrepreneurs an all-inclusive solution to forming an LLC or C-Corp in Delaware.

The platform also offers startups access to the Stripe ecosystem, which has products like the payment processor.

With Clerky, it is a decent alternative for US residents who need to form a C-Corp.

The service specializes in legal documentation during formation and maintaining compliance.

Choose Stripe Atlas If:

You want to form an LLC or C-Corp in Delaware and need investor grants and access to the Stripe network.

Choose Clerky If:

You want to form a C-Corp and need legal guidance to stay compliant.

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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.