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Patrick from Stripe here. I wanted to quickly chime in to emphasize that our goal in acquiring Indie Hackers is to simply ensure that the site becomes as successful as possible. The Stripe upside we're hoping for is that more companies get started and that they're more successful. We already see a very large fraction of new internet companies choose Stripe; we're mainly hoping that Indie Hackers can help us grow the overall number rather than to grow our fraction. (Our product has to do the latter part.)

Also: congrats to Courtland on building an awesome site! I've been enjoying the interviews on it since it launched. It's very refreshing to hear from so many people who are quietly building real businesses with real revenues.

You can help us help you by a) becoming available in more countries b) Atlas LLC

With that LLC thought, does that still mean US based?

Atlas sounded interesting to me (doing product dev atm), however it's based on incorporating in the US.

The US seems like it's gone in a seriously bad direction for non-US citizens (I'm Australian, living in the UK), with no positive end to that in sight. So incorporation in the US isn't really a goer (personally speaking).

Unless you understand the tax consequences, incorporating in the US should be avoided at all costs.

Why? LLCs are pass-through entities. US residents will get taxed as income, and non-US residents will not have to pay any tax if their income is not effectively connected with a US trade or business (which basically means that employees do not do any of the work within the US).

Different countries have different laws. What might be seen as "pass through" under US law can sometimes be seen as opaque in an EU country, for example. Sometimes the situation or the double taxation treaty (if there is one) offers no clear solution.

Most western countries also have CFC laws you need to be aware of. CFC laws are essentially "see through" taxation laws to combat tax avoidance, looking through certain corporate structures you would use to avoid tax, e.g. by somehow siphoning off money (legally, through IP payments, interest payments, etc) to a zero or low tax entity somewhere.

I've had some tax disputes before and I can tell you: most of these civil servants are unaware of the international context they're operating in. They mainly audit local restaurants, bookstores, etc. Nothing "exotic". Talking to them, before you meet with some people higher up, can literally be a crapshoot. Some countries, for example, might try to tax your US LLC income as dividend income, before applying corporate (or personal income) tax to it again.

This is obviously often incorrect, but given most people set up US entities because they're cheap / etc (or at least some of the people using Atlas do), you should be aware that a dispute with your local tax authority can follow. Because they are the ones losing current and future revenue. Those can have nasty consequences if you don't have the funds available to hire, say, a good tax lawyer.

That said, totally agree Atlas (or setting up a US LLC) can be super valuable. Just make sure your tax situation is looked at, at home.

>This is obviously often incorrect, but given most people set up US entities because they're cheap

Cheap compared to where? EU or UK?

Most EU jurisdictions have required minimum capital contributions from the founding shareholder(s), e.g. 10-20.000 euro per entity. Then there's a ton of stuff to file (some countries are more bureaucratic than others), in some jurisdictions you need to visit a civil law notary to incorporate, etc.

A lawyer can easily take care of that for you for a reasonable fee, but most bootstrappers won't consider it, given the price.

Interesting, thanks.

You may be interested in https://www.leapin.eu/ then. I'm not affiliated and can't give a personal recommendation yet as I've just been doing research. But it's basically Atlas, in the EU and with lower taxes. The big, major catch right now is that they only accept single-owner companies last time I looked, which will probably be an issue if you're partnered up with anyone.

Thanks, I'll look into them when we're closer to setting up the business side of things. :)

Isn't UK incorporating a breeze? I'm sure I heard it can be all done online.

From my experience you can do everything online + post, except for the bank account. However the reality might have changed in the 3 years which have elapsed. There might be some new bank that lets you get away with it online.

However, the UK is moving in a strange direction as well. For a decent EU option, look at Estonia. Get a digital ID card from one of their embassies and you can use that with your computer to open a company and manage everything digitally.

>There might be some new bank that lets you get away with it online.

Yep, https://www.tide.co (even MetroBank which I used was all online and only took a few days.

Yeah, that was an option until Brexit happened.

My co-conspirator :) is based in Germany, so setting something up there might be the better idea.

Haven't researched that at all (yet), as we're still focused on getting the foundational tech working decently first (progressing fairly well, it's mostly grunt work).

But, keeping an eye open meanwhile... :)

Hi, we have setup our company (UG) https://cloudron.io a bit over a year ago in Germany and used https://www.firma.de which was a breeze. They do all the heavy lifting preparing documents. Then you just have to show up physically at the bank and notary office to sign on the dates firma.de is telling you.

Thanks, I'll check them out when we're at the stage of investigating the right place to setup. :)

Yep. For the most basic setup, it takes 5-10 mins and costs around £5

Agree about Atlas LLC: the best way to help "more companies get started and that they're more successful" is to help the companies at the margin -- the companies that won't actually get around to being formed if the prospective founder has to take 2 weeks out of his schedule just to figure out the legal and financial aspects of operating a side business. And for that type of company, an LLC is the no-brainer correct choice for the corporate structure.

Source: a prospective customer. :)

There is a lot of echo for your sentiment, and no reason for Atlas to not create an LLC package for customers (at some point), but are You (and so many others) really putting off a. Starting a business, or b. Creation of a business entity (LLC) for an on going business until Stripe can form it for you as a service? If so, what is it they provide that isn't available - and cheaper - elsewhere?

+1 Atlas LLC. Safe to say many of those featured on IndieHackers are also LLC.

This was brought up in the Stripe thread the other day. I'm sure both are on their radar.

+1 for Atlas LLC

Thanks for commenting and responding.

Can you say a little more about how you hope to ensure it becomes successful? I mean, what can Stripe do to help the site?

You might spend some money on it, but that might have been done more cheaply without acquiring it. Do you plan to add some sort of features? advertise it broadly?

The main thing we can do is free up Courtland to spend more time on it rather than having him sell ads. We're also going to invest in it so that his brother, Channing, can join him. On top of that, we expect that there'll be some Stripe users who'd benefit from discovering it earlier in their lifecycle and getting advice and feedback from other community members. Most people building a business on Stripe are doing it for the first time.

Longer term, there's a lot that we're interested in adding. (The site isn't even a year old yet -- check out https://indiehackers.com/timeline. There was no forum or podcast in the beginning.) But we're flexible on the details there and we'll experiment and adapt based on what we learn along the way.

Quick question about Stripe, how do you plan to retain customers long term? I ask this as a person who has moved a couple businesses off Stripe, pricing & corner cases like easy debit support are the main two motivational factors.

For example, Centurylink lets you pay online via debit card with just the card # alone. No CVV, address, expiration date, etc. For low fraud industries, this is a way to leverage very cheap debit card rates (eg $0.65 flat for small bank/credit union debit & 0.05% + $0.21 for large banks that are regulated debit), while making it simple to use debit cards compared to a credit card. If Stripe were to offer something like this, it would be a harder sale to make when I come in and review their phone/payment processing/ISP bills and pitch them $XXX savings.

Another thing is on credit, not offering over interchange pricing essentially limits you to only working with very small businesses. A supermarket I work with (4 employees including the owner) does $100k volume a month average, and is paying only 0.83% to 0.85% ($830 to $850 a month in total fees on 100k volume) a month, how can Stripe get anywhere close to that?

These types of issues could limit Stripe to a small & shrinking niche long term, especially with Mercury offering similar APIs with more features (though less accessible) at rock bottom pricing, and Heartland, Gravity and others piling on in a race to the bottom. IMO the reasonably easy to access & inexpensive API is the differentiator keeping Mercury viable.

Stripe markets to tech companies. Tech companies typically have very strong margins, and are therefore less price sensitive. Ergo, Stripe survives on businesses that print money.

Not everyone can afford an iPhone, but Apple still is filthy rich from the people who can.

You'd think, but 2.9% off the bottom line in the form of a large fee every month is something most companies will look to reduce or curtail after a few months or years. If your only processing a few grand a month, Stripe makes sense vs a traditional processor.

Once you hit $20 million in sales ($300-400k), the difference gets very noticeable vs. paying one internal IT and a couple security consultants to audit the work.

I don't disagree; its no different than AWS: once you get big enough, its time to roll your own or bring it in house. Until then, lots of money to be made selling shovels.

No one looks at their SMB customers and says "To hell with that market, they'll just leave once they're big enough!" The market for people building from scratch is enormous.

The thing is, you can't roll your own in house, but you can replace Stripe at a much lower cost with a different vendor. They all process cards after all!

I think Stripe would be offering much better deals for high volume. With Stripe you are also paying for what they have built on top of just accepting the payment. If you are high volume and willing to use a no frills provider it doesn't surprise me that you would get a better deal.

We use PIN, a Stripe clone, for some currencies where they could offer us a better rate/ settlement. For our primary AUD transactions we are just using a bank on a much better rate.

I moved out of Stripe because stripe charges $15 for charge backs for my product worth $10. The dispute resolution mechanism sucks and it almost all the time favors the customer and stripe is US only. My product is worldwide.

Yeah, Stripe only gets so much say over chargebacks with their platform provider and the cardholder's bank, the only platform that I've seen chargebacks successfully fought & won on is Tsys, its always a loser on First Data.

That being said, $15 is a low chargeback fee (damn close to cost the issuing bank & platform charge), generally you'll see a $25 to $30 chargeback fee with a $20 to $75 retrieval fee.

I had two chargebacks on my service using Stripe (https://breaker101.com/ </shameless-plug>), and successfully fought both of them. Just throwing that out there.

how does paypal handle these ? When there is a dispute, I refund the amount and thats it. Paypal bears the chargeback and Stripe passes it to the merchants ?

Software Engineering Daily had an episode[0] on fraud detection at stripe using machine learning. If you're interested it provides quite a bit of background information.

[0]: https://softwareengineeringdaily.com/2017/03/17/stripe-machi...

Paypal charges a $20 chargeback fee on disputes with a credit card company.

I use Stripe from Japan and it really sucks when it comes to chargebacks. I have won like 2 of 30 cases. I provide customer's ID, shipping labels, tracking info and still lose. I had one friendly fraud case, when a customer was using both Stripe and PayPal. Later the customer opened disputes for every payment made within 3 months. It was like dozens of disputes on both PayPal and Stripe. I have won all on PayPal and lost all on Stripe. Those two cases I won on Stripe was like the acquiring bank started the chargeback without notifying the client. The client worked with us, the acquiring bank admitted the mistake and still we had to fight to convince Stripe that we won the dispute. I strongly believe that they just automatically process the chargeback forms and don't give a thing about winning it. Not to mention that they charge you even if you win a dispute.

>For example, Centurylink lets you pay online via debit card with just the card # alone. No CVV, address, expiration date, etc.

WTF? It is amazing that card industry still works with such horrible security.

Debit networks are wholly separate from Visa/Mastercard, different ballgame entirely. You get to deal with a few hundred tiny debit networks that replace Visa/Mastercard/Amex/Discover for processing the payment.

Centurylink has your name/address/SSN and can cut your services off at a whim if anything happens, so fraud would be inadvisable.

US debut networks. UK debit is via Visa, MasterCard etc typically.

Europe is a whole different ballgame, Visa itself runs multiple networks, and you've got heavy regulation kneecaping debit at 0.2% for interchange, and 0.3% for credit card interchange. Competition takes different forms, but it is a pretty fragmented market in the EU.

The rates in Hong Kong with Stripe for non-hong Kong issued cards is 3.9% + 2% conversion fee if you don't charge in HKD. Additionally they're unable to deposit into a US denominated bank account.

So if you want to process USD to US clients in HK with stripe the fees are 5.9% which is fairly laughable.

With 4+ million USD yearly volume, the only discount I could get would be 1% off the conversion fee to start.

+1 Atlas LLC


> I'm surprised this article is still up when it seems pretty clear it's a scam and all the comments on Hacker News agree.


Honestly, given IndieHackers promotes obvious bullshit that could make 4-5 figures of cash for a few minutes effort I have to seriously question the wisdom of associating it with Stripe.

You don't throw out the basket for one bad egg.

The fact its still there implies its the basket that is bad.

You guys are my favorite startup and it's great to see that you're not just focused on the bottom line, but also doing good for the world. Very few do. Keep on rocking, pc!

> ...doing good for the world.

Too bad they are only US-based.

Thanks for chiming in. One of the joys of HN is seeing people Doing The Real Thing show up and be candid.

Our peer education marketplace www.helpwith.co is powered by Stripe. Want to help us get a 50k investment from Stripe? It'll allow us to ad a lot of users to for you guys.

Who could I talk to about this?

What do see on your acquisition list in 2017/2018?

It's very hard to know upfront -- what made us interested in Indie Hackers wasn't just the idea per se (we'd thought about it before and looked at other sites in the past), but rather the fact that it was executed so well. There are tons of things that we'd in principle be open to acquiring if the right company existed. In general, we look for small, highly-effective technical teams with a very high bar for execution quality. (Indie Hackers, which was pretty much just Courtland operating solo, cleared this threshold by a significant margin: https://twitter.com/Shpigford/status/851851923502268416) To the extent that the team really understands either developer tools or startups, that's a bonus.

> Indie Hackers is one of those things that came out of nowhere with super high quality everything.

I love that notion. To come out of nowhere with super high quality everything.

Hi Patrick - would you be able to acquire my website as well to "ensure that the site becomes as successful as possible" ?

A serious question...

You sorta have to have a useful website for that. Probably need to start with having some way to find your website to figure out whether it's useful!

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