My New Startup Checklist

some of you may know I’ve recently started a new company. I’m not ready to talk about -that- yet, but I did want to capture some notes on logistical stuff I have had to ramp up on as a first time founder. hopefully this helps somebody out there.

the following presume that you are going for a typical US venture backed SaaS startup type situation.

this is obviously a live situation so i will anneal this post over time

2024 edit


Company Setup

  • Just use Stripe Atlas, which incorporates you as a Delaware C corp which is the default investable schelling point for all VCs
    • Atlas pushes you to bank with Mercury, which I ended up using. works fine so far no complaints
    • Atlas files your 83b election for you, which is WONDERFUL MUAK MUAK I LOVE YOU STRIPE
    • try to go for the fast EIN option - i made a mistake in going for the slow EIN
      • you need your EIN before you buy your stock
      • you should buy your stock before investors buy your stock
      • Atlas guides you toward buying your stock with “IP” rather than Cash. this is what i did
    • note that some startup lawyers dislike the standard Atlas terms and will offer to help you with incorporation, for my purposes I wanted to go with Stripe so didnt explore this much
    • Clerky recently published a guide to C/S/B Corp incorporation vs LLC
  • Domain
    • I spent 20k on my domain. longer story for another time perhaps… not THAT interesting but a fun pub story
    • namesquatted on pypi and npm and github. could not get twitter. meh. (Update: got it thanks to @fanahova!)
  • Basic “office” expenses
    • gsuite
      • you will start getting mail and calendar invites almost immediately - MAKE SURE TO CHECK or UNIFY these or else you will miss stuff. i missed stuff. embarrassing.
    • notion
    • virtual mailbox - i use postscanmail. earthclassmail also good
  • Data Room
    • set up a Gdrive folders for all important company documents to be neatly filed, with the intention that this will be shared for future financing rounds (so don’t put anything TOO confidential in there)

Before getting funding

  • get lawyer - all my founder friends basically say get a good lawyer representing you that will act in your interests
    • most lawyers will wave their first ~20k of expenses or do free SAFE review for you to audition for your business
    • no retainer needed if you seem like a legit founder


  • if getting angels - use an Angellist RUV for all smol angels - much easier to manage them

Vendors to start onboarding/exploring

  • Book-keeping - i am taking a shot on rather than Pilot. it’s very new. will report back.
  • Payroll - presumptive startup leaders here are Justworks and Rippling (Gusto for larger startups apparently). havent chosen yet. Update: ended up using Gusto. $300 referral:
  • Credit Cards - Brex, Ramp, Mercury. I am trying out Mercury IO.
  • Accts Payable/Receivable: negative reviews on try Brex and Ramp or (when larger) Airbase
  • Cap table - (have had negative experiences with angellist UX) . however i have been maintaining my own since it is pretty simple right now
  • Business Insurance - ?
  • Project management - is free
  • Tax filing: I used
    • connects to Gusto, Mercury, etc.
    • March 1: Delaware Franchise Tax Annual Report & Filing due. Pay a minimum of $400, or more if you have significant funding
    • April 15, 2024: C Corp Form 1120 Tax Return due. The Federal Form 1120 is the U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return, which the IRS has companies use to report their income, losses, credits, etc. and to figure the income tax liability of the corporation. File the R&D Tax Credit Form 6765 with your tax return. This requires an R&D Tax Credit Study. Can extend the deadline to October 15.
  • California Business License
    • incorporate in Delaware, need license to operate in California. my lawyer quoted their filing vendor require $712 for the filing fees, as well as the annual fee for them being the registered agent in CA. just talk to lawyer (i can rec one if you know me). Takes 10 biz days, can do rush for $350.
    • AFTER receiving: Please note that Smol AI is required to file the initial Statement of Information within 90 days of the filing, and then annually thereafter. Unfortunately, we don’t file the initial reports or the annual reports for our clients. Please file the initial report and the annual report via the following website: you will have to register for an account first. You can use the following link:
    • Once the account is set up, you can click on “File a Statement of Information” under Business Entities. Search for the company name “Smol AI” and click on the search result. A pop-up menu will appear on your right. Click on the middle icon that says “File Statement of Information.” From there, you will go through different prompts. For the “Agent for Service of Process,” you can leave it as “California Registered Corporate Agent (1505).” Please note that there is a filing fee for the Statement of Information (Processing Fee (Including Corporate Disclosure Fee): $25.00), and the CA Secretary of State accepts Visa/Mastercard.

after funding

  • mercury can sweep cash into a higher yielding Treasury account but have to apply for it for some reason

Non Time Sensitive

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