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A Startup Can Now Fill Out Your Paperwork to Become a Startup

Because you have better things to do than fill out mounds of paperwork.
February 24, 2016, 5:14pm

Now you don't even have to be an entrepreneur to be an entrepreneur.

Payment services company Stripe on Wednesday launched Atlas, a business-in-a-box of sorts that lets users for $500 register a Delaware-based corporation and an associated US bank account by merely filling out a web form. The idea, Stripe's founders have said, was to break down some of the logistical red tape stands in the way of everyday people, particularly those not located in the US, from being able to start their own business.

"[Atlas] presents [budding entrepreneurs] a route to start a tech business and take advantage of its potential on equal footing with a company based in Silicon Valley," Stripe co-founder and CEO Patrick Collison told Wired, noting that the entire process takes about a week to complete. Beyond a Stripe account to process payments, Atlas also includes access to tax and legal advice and $15,000 in computing services from Amazon.

Right now, Atlas is an invitation-only private beta, though the company is actively encouraging prospective users to apply for access on its website—provided they're not planning to open one of several different business categories that Stripe doesn't support, including businesses that process virtual currencies like bitcoin, businesses related to gambling, or anything to do with adult entertainment.

All of this is well and good, sure, but what are the practical impacts? Speed is the primary benefit: Stripe notes that tracking down and filling out the amount of paperwork that Atlas will handle for users can take several weeks to do on your own—months if you're not based in the US and need to make several trips there to hash everything out. "[Startups] can do things that matter rather than struggling to overcome barriers to entry," Collison said on Wednesday.

While Stripe isn't the only payments company looking to win over Mom and Pop operations—others, like Square and PayPal have for years over tools to help small business process payments—but it's the first to aggressively court people who literally haven't even filed out the necessary paperwork to get going. Explained Collison: "We thought it was crazy this product didn't exist."