In June, I applied for Narro’s entry into the Stripe Atlas beta program. Since building Narro incrementally, the worry of financial separation crept up on me a bit. Between the end of one job and the start of another, I had a perfect time to formalize the structure of Narro into a real entity. I thought I could provide a review of Stripe Atlas for anyone considering the program.
Luckily, the “kit” you are provided once in Atlas is like a self-inflating mattress. The team sends along prescribed documents (bylaws, company structure, tax registration, etc.) that you can simply ratify (or edit to suit your needs). A bank account is created and connected for you (at Silicon Valley Bank) and hooked up to a new Stripe account. As I was previously running Narro on an existing Stripe account, I just transferred the credentials to my extant account - no interruption for Narro’s customers/subscriptions. The whole process took maybe two weeks from the first document to the last signature.
Atlas does prescribe quite a few pieces of the puzzle that you can’t (as of this writing) change. The new entity that you register is a C-Corporation, not an LLC. I have generally worked for and seen startups registered as LLC entities, but Atlas provides some nice documentation about the benefits of a C-Corp. The new corporation will also be registered in Delaware. This is exactly what I wanted, as I had previously read about the structure and precedence set around online-only businesses and startups in Delaware. Ultimately, I was pleased with defaults.
The benefits from this process have ranged from tax procedures and general process advice to a forum community to stronger legal standing. Narro has since seen more interest from partnerships. I have felt much more at ease about the separation between the company and my own identity, financially and legally.
Narro may be a bit different from other Atlas members. It is a one-person company and I don’t have plans to take on venture capital. Instead, I am focusing now on growing the business organically and profitably. Narro has always been profitable and I don’t have plans to change that. Going through the Atlas process let me keep both options wide open. I now have the company formalized in its current state while positioning it in the best format possible for the venture capital market (see the C-Corp documentation and Delaware registration).
I’m looking forward to more benefits coming out of the Atlas program. Already, it has proven immensely valuable in prescribing the most common steps to a new incorporation.