Here’s a scenario: You’re a startup founder. You eat, sleep, and dream buzzwords like product-market fit, traction, and scale. You live on a diet of MSG-flavored noodles – bootstrapped to sheer grit. You have plenty to worry about, even as you try to keep up your calm and cool exterior (because this is going to work – it’s got to work).
Startups have more than enough to worry about and yet, somewhere in there, you have to try to get your company registered. In India, this looks a lot like waiting in a crowded room a few degrees warmer than comfort with a stack full of papers that you’ve collected over the course of months, with input from your chartered accountant (CA) and network. You arrive at the desk and find out that three of the papers are filled out wrong and that you’re missing two others. Oh, and maybe you’re applying for the wrong type of company charter while you’re at it.
“How was I supposed to know?” you ask the person behind the desk. He shrugs. He’s not fully sure himself. There isn’t a go-to place that tells you exactly what you need or even what each document should say. At best, you can email or call in your question and hope that the line (1) actually connects to a person who will (2) answer your question (3) with the right information.
We’ve been going through it ourselves for over a year.
Tech in Asia India knows this process well – we’ve been going through it ourselves for over a year.
Online tax returns site ClearTax today announced ClearTax Startup, its new product that gives entrepreneurs tools to start and manage their companies.
The product, available at packages that start off at a flat price of just under US$300, includes a web interface that provides flow charts and step-by-step breakdowns for processes like firm structure, registration, financing, legal compliances, brand protection, eligibility, and government benefits. It’ll also help with incorporation, business and legal agreements, and tax registration.
ClearTax co-founder Archit Gupta tells Tech in Asia the US$300 includes a premium service package, which gives users access to discounted services through ClearTax’s partners. A company will be able to open a bank account at zero balance with HDFC, ICICI, or Yes Bank. Big Rock will provide the company its own site domain, and the startup will be able to make payments using either RazorPay, Paytm, or Instamojo’s interface. A co-working space can be accessed through BHIVE, 91Springboard, or Awfis. Finally, the business can get free access – to start – to Google G Suite.
Companies may have to pay management costs past the US$300 – for example, when the free period with Google G Suite ends.
Been there, done that, over it
“I was a freeloader,” Archit admits to a group of reporters gathered at an office in the middle of Bangalore, where ClearTax hosted their announcement. One of Archit’s co-founders, Raja Ram Gupta, is also his father and a CA. Traditionally, CAs have been the bridge between businesses and the government. Though that should have given ClearTax a way into the logistics of starting up that others didn’t get, Archit still describes the process as ambiguous and “painful.”
“We’re not an easy country to transact business in at this point,” he says.
I was a freeloader.
He describes ClearTax as a bit of a Stripe Atlas for India. Stripe helps businesses incorporate in the US, which has a different business landscape. ClearTax brings the concept home with a range of partner choices that are relevant to local needs. “There are a billion people here,” he says, gesturing to the room with a shrug.
If companies only want access to some of the services, they can negotiate a lower price with ClearTax. Archit says the service will soon expand to include more business services for companies.
Converted from Indian rupees. US$1 = INR 67.91
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