A little over a year ago, Stripe introduced its Atlas program as a way to help international entrepreneurs get incorporated and set up with everything they’d need to do business in the U.S. Now the payments startup is opening up the program as a way to facilitate company creation for founders that are already here.
Stripe Atlas was designed to provide the legal, financial, and operational tools necessary for startups to get off the ground. By partnering with Silicon Valley Bank for financing, Orrick for legal corporation affairs, PWC for tax guidance and AWS for cloud services, the Stripe program provided a way for companies to quickly incorporate as a Delaware C Corp and set up all the introductory banking, tax, and tech infrastructure they’d need.
Stripe launched Atlas as an invite-only experiment, in part to get more international companies using its payment APIs. Being a Stripe customer wasn’t a requirement to use Atlas — companies at the stage of incorporation are unlikely to need payments help, after all. But Stripe was pretty focused on Atlas being a thing for international entrepreneurs, and over the past year thousands of companies have signed up from 124 countries around the world.
Then a funny thing happened: U.S.-based entrepreneurs began asking to take advantage of Atlas as well. And they weren’t just new, wet-behind-the-ears first-time entrepreneurs, according to Atlas program lead Taylor Francis. Of the U.S.-based entrepreneurs who asked to be part of Atlas, 62 percent of those surveyed had founded a company before.
In other words, having been through the process before, they were just looking for a more streamlined path to company incorporation. Stripe has decided to cater to their demands, and is making Atlas open to U.S. startups as well as those overseas.
The program will remain invite-only, in part because Atlas is still focused specifically on high-growth startups, or those with the potential to be. As Francis acknowledged, the intent is not to set up a Delaware C Corps for small businesses or solo entrepreneurs. “If you’re starting a new yoga studio, that’s probably not the right corporate structure for you,” he said.
At the same time it’s opening up for U.S. startups, the Stripe team is adding new features to Atlas users. In particular, the firm has opened a section with detailed how-to guides and templates, as well as an online forum for entrepreneurs to share knowledge.
It’s also expanding its partnership program to include accelerators like Y Combinator, as well as crowdfunding platform companies Kickstarter and Indiegogo. That adds to the dozens of partners that it already had in accelerators and venture firms around the world.