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Making it even easier to start an internet business with Stripe Atlas

Taylor Francis on April 6, 2017

Just over a year ago, we launched Stripe Atlas, a new way to start an internet business. It was something of an experiment to begin with, but the response has been hugely encouraging. Since we announced Atlas, thousands of entrepreneurs from 124 countries have used Atlas to start their company. Atlas companies are building everything you could imagine, including a deployment platform in California, a presentation tool in Chile, and a cosmetics startup in the Gaza Strip.

We've been listening carefully to what Atlas users have requested. Based on this feedback, we’re excited to roll out a bunch of improvements today. These will make it easier to get access to banking services, to join Atlas, and to connect with other Atlas founders.

Faster access to your bank account

Opening a business bank account is often a pain and takes longer than it should. We’ve worked closely with Silicon Valley Bank to provide a bank account for all Atlas companies. (We chose Silicon Valley Bank because they’re the main bank that we see top startups choose.) When we first launched Atlas, it took a few days to get your account set up. We’ve worked on solving that with SVB. Starting today, most Stripe Atlas founders will be able to log in to their bank account within a few minutes of electronically signing the Atlas documents. In addition, Atlas founders can request a U.S. debit card that makes it easy to sign up for other services and pay for other products. (Here’s the full fine print on Atlas and banking.)

Open to U.S. entrepreneurs

When we launched Atlas, we were focused on making it easier for entrepreneurs outside the U.S. to get started. Since then, we’ve heard from thousands of entrepreneurs located within the U.S. who want to use Atlas, and we’ve worked with many founders based in the U.S. to get their companies started. (And it’s not a surprise—Atlas sets up every company with the standard defaults and banking infrastructure used by top U.S. tech companies.) So, starting today, Atlas is now officially open for business for U.S. founders, and we’re working to add more benefits to Atlas that will specifically be useful to founders in the U.S.

Atlas invitations from current members

Stripe Atlas is available to join by invitation only, but we want to make it available to as many founders as we can. Starting today, existing Atlas founders can invite other entrepreneurs to join—we think this will be the easiest way for many people to get access. Anyone can still apply directly for an invitation, and we’ll respond within two weeks.

Expanding the Stripe Atlas Network

We’ve expanded the Stripe Atlas network of investors and accelerators from around the world. The network now consists of over 200 members and we’ve also added other types of organizations like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and YC Startup School to the network. All of these members can invite founders to join Atlas. You can check out a gallery and get in touch here.

The Atlas Forum

One of the most useful sources of knowledge for entrepreneurs is simply talking to other founders. A lot of Atlas participants asked us about a way to connect with other founders. So we’ve created the Atlas Forum, a members-only discussion board. In addition to providing a place to ask questions and share experiences, we’ve been hosting some special events: in the last month, the forum has featured a Q&A with Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures, "Ask an Accountant" sessions with accounting firm PwC, and "Ask an Attorney" sessions with international tech law firm Orrick. Many Atlas users are actively raising capital, so we hosted a Q&A session with Kirsty Nathoo (CFO of Y Combinator). We also provided individual feedback on applications to YC’s next class for every Atlas company who requested it. We plan to continue these over time, and, over the next month, we’ll be hosting private interviews with Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, and Diane Greene, founder of VMWare and SVP of Google Cloud.

With these updates, we’re excited to help more entrepreneurs get started. You can learn more and apply to join. We can’t wait to see what you build.

Start your company with Stripe Atlas Join Atlas

April 6, 2017

Scaling your API with rate limiters

Paul Tarjan on March 30, 2017 in Engineering

Availability and reliability are paramount for all web applications and APIs. If you’re providing an API, chances are you’ve already experienced sudden increases in traffic that affect the quality of your service, potentially even leading to a service outage for all your users.

The first few times this happens, it’s reasonable to just add more capacity to your infrastructure to accommodate user growth. However, when you’re running a production API, not only do you have to make it robust with techniques like idempotency, you also need to build for scale and ensure that one bad actor can’t accidentally or deliberately affect its availability.

Read more

March 30, 2017

Celebrating Female Entrepreneurs

Aylin Oncel on March 8, 2017

We built Stripe Atlas to help entrepreneurs from all over the globe start and run an internet business, no matter which industry they're in, where they're based, or their gender or ethnicity. However, women are still not starting companies or raising money at nearly the same rate as men—women made up only 7% of founders whose companies received more than $20M in VC funding between 2009 and 2015. We believe that a more diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem leads to better products and services for everyone.

Today is International Women's Day, so we wanted to share the stories of five of the incredible female founders who have used Atlas to start and build their companies.

  • Based in Ghana, co-founders Priscilla Hazel, Esther Olatunde, and Cassandra Sarfo created Tress, a social app for black women to discover and share hairstyle inspiration. Tress offers its users a place to browse different hair categories and engage with a community of black women and hair enthusiasts. The founders' unique experiences as black women inform the development of the company and also help them empathize with their users and anticipate the needs of women worldwide. Tress' Android app has been downloaded over 100,000 times and they recently released an iOS app.

  • Founded by Cinthia Gawianski in Argentina, CM Reservas offers online booking and management tools for hotels in 14 countries across Latin America. Although she founded the company in 2013, Cinthia turned to Atlas last year to expand to the US market. Today, hundreds of hotel clients rely on CM Reservas for hotel reservation management services.

  • Seven years ago, Agni Tilla founded May28th, an e-commerce platform offering jewelry and watch customization. Since then, she has lived in five countries and worked with employees all around the world. Agni is now located in Latvia and has expanded her business to the US, where shipping for the company is now based. May28th has collaborated with designers like Kate Spade and Anthropologie, and has been featured in magazines and TV shows including the Today Show, Good Morning America, New York Magazine, and Marie Claire.

We're inspired by Priscilla, Esther, Cassandra, Cinthia, Agni, and the many more female founders who are building unique businesses with global reach. If you'd like to learn more about getting your business off the ground, check out our Guide to Starting an Internet Business or apply to Atlas.

March 8, 2017

130+ currencies now accepted in Canada

Govind Dandekar on March 2, 2017

Today, we're expanding the number of currencies that Canadian businesses on Stripe can accept. In the past, Canadian companies could accept only payments in U.S. or Canadian dollars; starting today, you can charge in any of more than 130 currencies. As you'd expect, we'll automatically convert and transfer funds in either CAD or USD.

We've heard from many Canadian businesses on Stripe, such as Vin65, that presenting in local currencies significantly increases conversions. You can start charging in other currencies just by passing in the currency code when creating a charge:

curl https://api.stripe.com/v1/charges \
   -u sk_test_mkGsLqEW6SLnZa487HYfJVLf: \
   -d amount=3000 \
   -d currency=eur \
   -d description="Premium plan" \
   -d customer=cus_X3he9Ex2Aenkc

And if you'd like to read more details, you can learn more about how Stripe handles currency conversion.

We hope you'll find this feature useful! If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know.

March 2, 2017

Designing robust and predictable APIs with idempotency

Brandur Leach on February 22, 2017 in Engineering

Networks are unreliable. We’ve all experienced trouble connecting to Wi-Fi, or had a phone call drop on us abruptly.

The networks connecting our servers are, on average, more reliable than consumer-level last miles like cellular or home ISPs, but given enough information moving across the wire, they’re still going to fail in exotic ways. Outages, routing problems, and other intermittent failures may be statistically unusual on the whole, but still bound to be happening all the time at some ambient background rate.

To overcome this sort of inherently unreliable environment, it’s important to design APIs and clients that will be robust in the event of failure, and will predictably bring a complex integration to a consistent state despite them. Let’s take a look at a few ways to do that.

Read more

February 22, 2017

Online migrations at scale

Jacqueline Xu on February 2, 2017 in Engineering

Engineering teams face a common challenge when building software: they eventually need to redesign the data models they use to support clean abstractions and more complex features. In production environments, this might mean migrating millions of active objects and refactoring thousands of lines of code.

Stripe users expect availability and consistency from our API. This means that when we do migrations, we need to be extra careful: objects stored in our systems need to have accurate values, and Stripe’s services need to remain available at all times.

In this post, we’ll explain how we safely did one large migration of our hundreds of millions of Subscriptions objects.

Read more

February 2, 2017

Multiple plans and previews for subscriptions

Owen Coutts on January 30, 2017

We're excited to launch a few features today that make it much easier to manage your subscriptions from the Dashboard.

Multiple plan subscriptions

One of the most common pieces of feedback we've heard from our users is that it was challenging to support business models where customers are commonly subscribed to multiple plans (such as those with "add on" features). You can now create subscriptions that are composed of multiple plans, which lets you use Stripe to better represent the business model of many subscriptions businesses.

One of our beta users, Discourse, provides hosted online forums for companies like Twitter, Github, and Docker. They offer a $100 per month standard plan, a $200 per month business plan, and custom enterprise plans. In addition to these plans, their customers also commonly choose add-on features like SSL. Previously, Discourse engineers relied on webhooks to add invoice items to accurately charge for add-ons, which required lots of monitoring.

We've now streamlined this process considerably with our multiple plans feature, which you can use in the Dashboard, or via the API. With multiple plans, you can now easily offer add-ons to your basic plans in the same subscription without additional engineering or administrative work.

You can now create a single subscription for a customer that's composed of multiple plans.

Preview subscriptions in the Dashboard

While we've had the ability to preview changes in the API for some time, it's often easier and clearer to see these changes directly in the Dashboard. We've added a new view that lets you preview the impact of changes you’re about to make to a subscription. For example, if you add tax, a coupon, or proration when creating or editing a subscription, you can now see the impact of each change before applying it to the customer. You can try out these new features in your Dashboard.

You can now preview changes to a Subscription via the Dashboard.

We hope you'll find these updates useful! We'll be launching more features that make it even easier for businesses to manage recurring billing soon. In the meantime, please reach out if you have any questions or feedback.

January 30, 2017

European payment methods

Stanislas Polu on January 24, 2017

Today, we’re introducing support for five popular payment methods for European businesses: Bancontact, Giropay, iDEAL, SEPA Direct Debit, and SOFORT. You can activate these payment methods from your Dashboard. Additionally, European businesses can now enable 3D Secure for their customers.

Giving customers the choice to pay using either credit cards or local payment methods can significantly boost conversion rates. In the Netherlands, for example, more than half of consumers prefer to pay with iDEAL instead of credit cards.

For Stripe users, supporting these varied payment methods requires integrating just one unified API. Payments made with any of these different methods will show up in the Stripe Dashboard, which makes reporting and reconciliation easy. These payment methods also work with the rest of the Stripe stack: you can design great mobile flows, create subscriptions, or build support for these payment methods into your Connect platform.

If you’re interested in accepting these payment methods, just activate them in your Dashboard—there’s no lengthy sign up process.

We’ll continue to add support for more payment methods that meaningfully increase conversion rates for Stripe users. (We’ll also enable U.S. businesses to accept these payment methods soon.) Each additional payment method we support will be compatible with the same, unified API we’re previewing today.

If your business would like to support other payment methods, or if you have any feedback or questions, please let me know!

Stripe unterstützt ab heute europäische Unternehmen mit fünf weiteren Zahlungsmethoden: SEPA-Lastschrift, SOFORT Überweisung, Giropay, iDEAL und Bancontact. Sie können diese Zahlungsmethoden direkt in Ihrem Dashboard aktivieren. Darüber hinaus können europäische Nutzer ihren Kundinnen und Kunden die Möglichkeit der Zahlungsbestätigung mit 3D-Secure geben.

Lokale Zahlungsmethoden können Ihre Conversion-Rates und das Zahlungserlebnis Ihrer Kundinnen und Kunden erheblich verbessern. In den Niederlanden bezahlen z. B. mehr als die Hälfte der Online-Kundinnen und Kunden mit iDEAL anstelle von Kreditkarten.

Stripe-Nutzer können sämtliche Zahlungsmethoden über unsere einheitliche API integrieren. Alle Zahlungen tauchen wie gewohnt im Dashboard auf, was die Berichterstattung und Kontenabstimmung vereinfacht. Die Zahlungsmethoden fügen sich auch nahtlos in alle weiteren Funktionalitäten ein. Sie können mobile Zahlungserlebnisse entwerfen, wiederkehrende Zahlungen abwickeln oder lokale Zahlungsmethoden auf Ihrem Connect-Marktplatz anbieten.

Wenn Sie an den neuen Zahlungsmethoden interessiert sind, können Sie diese einfach in Ihrem Dashboard aktivieren – es gibt keine langwierigen Anmeldeprozesse.

Wir werden in Zukunft weitere Zahlungsmethoden unterstützen, um weiterhin Conversion-Rates für unsere Nutzer zu optimieren, und diese auch Nutzern in den USA bald zur Verfügung stellen. Jede neue Zahlungsmethode wird über unsere vereinheitlichte API unterstützt, die ab heute in der Preview-Phase zugänglich ist.

Wenn Sie weitere Zahlungsmethoden anbieten möchten, oder wenn Sie Feedback und Fragen haben, lassen Sie es mich wissen!

Aujourd'hui, nous mettons à la disposition de nos utilisateurs européens cinq méthodes de paiement supplémentaires : Bancontact, Giropay, iDEAL, prélèvements SEPA, et SOFORT. Vous pouvez activer ces méthodes de paiement depuis votre Dashboard. De plus, les utilisateurs européens peuvent désormais demander à activer 3D Secure pour leurs clients.

Permettre à vos clients de payer avec une méthode de paiement locale en plus de leur carte de crédit peut considérablement améliorer vos taux de conversion. Aux Pays-Bas, par exemple, iDEAL est la méthode de paiement de choix pour plus de la moitié des transactions en ligne.

Pour les utilisateurs de Stripe, l'intégration de ces différentes méthodes de paiement ne nécessite qu'une seule API unifiée. Les paiements effectués avec chacune de ces méthodes apparaîtront dans votre Dashboard, facilitant l'analyse de votre activité ainsi que vos opérations de réconciliation. Ces méthodes de paiements fonctionnent également avec le reste de Stripe: vous pouvez personnaliser vos flux mobiles, créer des abonnements, ou les intégrer au sein de votre plateforme Connect.

Pour accepter ces méthodes de paiement, il vous suffit de les activer dans votre Dashboard - il n'y a pas de long processus d'inscription.

Nous prévoyons avec le temps de supporter davantage de méthodes de paiement si elles permettent aux utilisateurs de Stripe d'augmenter sensiblement leurs taux de conversion. (Toutes ces méthodes de paiement deviendront également accessibles aux utilisateurs américains avec le temps.) Chaque méthode de paiement additionnelle que nous supporterons sera compatible avec la même API unifiée dont nous offrons un aperçu aujourd'hui.

Si vous souhaitez nous voir supporter une autre méthode de paiement en particulier, donner votre avis ou poser vos questions, faites-nous signe !

Hoy ponemos a disposición de nuestros usuarios europeos cinco métodos de pago adicionales: Bancontact, Giropay, iDEAL, Adeudos Directos SEPA, y SOFORT. Puedes activar estos métodos de pago desde tu panel de control. Además, nuestros usuarios europeos pueden habilitar desde hoy 3D Secure para sus clientes.

Ofrecer a los clientes la opción de pagar usando tarjetas de crédito o métodos de pago locales puede incrementar significativamente las tasas de conversión. En los Países Bajos, por ejemplo, más de la mitad de los consumidores prefieren pagar con iDEAL en lugar de con tarjetas de crédito.

Para los usuarios de Stripe, ofrecer diferentes métodos de pago requiere integrar únicamente una sola API unificada. Los pagos realizados con cualquiera de estos métodos aparecerán en tu panel de control de Stripe, facilitando así el análisis de tu actividad y reconciliación contable. Estos métodos de pago también funcionan con el conjunto de Stripe: puedes diseñar fantásticos flujos móviles, crear suscripciones, o integrar estos métodos de pago en vuestra plataforma Connect.

Si estás interesado en aceptar estos métodos de pago, simplemente actívalos en tu panel de control—sin necesidad de largos procesos de inscripción.

Continuaremos añadiendo más métodos de pago que permitan a los usuarios de Stripe incrementar significativamente sus tasas de conversión. (Estos métodos de pago serán igualmente accesibles para nuestros usuarios estadounidenses). Cada método de pago adicional que apoyemos será compatible con la misma API unificada de la versión preliminar que os presentamos hoy.

Si deseas ofrecer otros métodos de pago, darnos tu opinión o consultar alguna duda, háznoslo saber.

January 24, 2017

Starting a real business

Patrick McKenzie on December 14, 2016

Starting a business is hard. Some of the difficulty is intrinsic—making products and services then convincing customers to pay for them will always be a challenge. Some of the difficulty is unnecessary—access to the infrastructure and tools for starting up an internet business is not evenly distributed.

We built Stripe Atlas to remove the barriers that prevent some entrepreneurs from participating in the global economy on an equal playing field. Many of us here at Stripe have started businesses ourselves and we remember puzzling over taxes and being confused by Terms of Service. This pain is unnecessary and we’re setting out to fix it by sharing what we’ve learned to help build and start businesses. Today, we’re publishing our first guide—on topics around incorporation and taxes—and we’ll be writing more in the future.

’Real’ businesses

In the technology industry, we often talk about “imposter syndrome”—the feeling that everyone around you knows what they’re doing and that you and you alone are just muddling along. The words that come up over and over again in our discussions with entrepreneurs are “real business.”

“If we were a ‘real’ business, we’d have a business plan, but since I don’t have an MBA, I’m just winging it.”

“In a ‘real’ business this system would be monitored, but we have higher priorities this week.”

“I might be able to get investors interested, but why would they be? I’m just a geek working on a website, far from Silicon Valley with all the ‘real’ businesses.”

This feeling is particularly common among first-time entrepreneurs, folks from underrepresented backgrounds, and entrepreneurs in regions without a deep ecosystem of successful internet companies…but it is surprisingly pervasive almost everywhere. We’re all making it up as we go along. (There is no magic elite circle of Silicon Valley whiz kids who feel like they’ve got this figured out.)

Running a business is a learnable skill

We think that bookkeeping, accounting, risk management, and the other mechanics of running a business are tools, not secrets. You can learn them. We’ve collected insight from lawyers at Orrick, accountants and tax experts at PwC, and experienced entrepreneurs to help demystify some of these subjects. Just like the tech industry has benefited tremendously from open-sourcing pieces of our collective technical infrastructure, we think that the global community of entrepreneurs will benefit from democratizing access to the technology of building and running businesses.

You can read more about bookkeeping, accounting, employment, incorporation, risk management, taxes, and contracts in the guide. If there are other subjects you’d be interested in having us cover, please drop us a line at atlas@stripe.com.

Starting a business? Learn about incorporation and taxes. Read the guide

December 14, 2016