How to set up a company with roots both in the US and India
Recently a former colleague asked me about setting up office in India and San Francisco. Compiling these tidbits made me realize how reusable this database is. A part of it is useful for any foreigner setting up shop in the Valley.
Cucumbertown is a network for cooks. Think Tumblr for cooks. We are a platform with users from around 162 countries but we haven’t generated revenue yet. Our lead investors are from the Valley and by virtue of that we setup shop in the United States with a subsidiary company in India. Fortunately or not we don’t have to deal with payments in India.
I have met quite a few entrepreneurs building SaaS products billed both in the US and in India. If that happens to be your case, reach out to a CPA in the US and a CA in India. This post is not going to help you much.
Ryan Roberts is Cucumbertown’s attorney. I picked up Ryan’s details from this Freshdesk post. Ryan’s been instrumental in setting up everything from the registration to convertible notes and privacy policies and generally responds to emails in a day. Super fast with output and advice.
Finances – Managing US accounts and finances
Vincent Sunder is the best. I spent 3 months searching for someone who has the experience, patience and is reasonable. Most of them were either prohibitively expensive or did not understand the nuances of international bookkeeping. Vincent is a veteran.
Finances – Chartered Accountant in India
Umesh Hegde is the choice and most startups I know in Bangalore already use his service. Umesh does everything from company registrations to audits. Umesh also handles Indian tax.
Taxes in the US
Jino Joseph. Jino is reasonable and you only need to talk to him via email. Jino’s services does not just limit to Indian clients. Jino and Vincent work in close tandem.
US – India company relations
This is actually a simple concept that can get complicated if not addressed right. To set things clear, there are two primary scenarios:
- Business in the US, operations in India (fairly common)
- Business in the US and in India (revenues in both the countries)
Cucumbertown falls under the first. And that makes the case for the Indian company to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the American firm.
If you are building a company for international markets and your investors are from the valley, register your firm as a Delaware entity. Then register the Indian subsidiary. I have friends who had to go through complex acquisition process (American firm acquiring the Indian entity) just to solve tax issues in India. Umesh Hegde can help (more details above). Talk to Ryan Roberts for Delaware setup.
Banking – US
Silicon Valley Bank. This is by far the simplest choice. SVB will help create an account without any hassles. But the banking website is near unusable. There aren’t many alternatives that are as easy as SVB.
Investments and Network – 500 Startups
Raise funds from 500. We did this at Cucumbertown. The 500 alumni have become a powerful vehicle to build your network on. Cucumbertown was not part of the accelerator but the resources and people we have access to is an unfair advantage. We even have a food founder’s get-together once a year. Besides, 500 has a strong international community and the Indian family’s pretty strong too.
Investments and Network - Meet Mukund
Mukund is the among the most connected and reliable angel investor/advisor/mentor to bank on. I can’t emphasize how much Mukund extends his network to help an entrepreneur. Mukund is well connected with the Valley and heads Microsoft’s entrepreneurship wing.
Logistics – Flight travel
Cathay Pacific offers the best value. No Lufthansa please. And Emirates is expensive. Book directly from the Cathay site. The site is a mess of a design but re-booking is 50-75 USD in comparison to the extra tax and commission you need to pay the agent or the booking site. You always reschedule.
If you need an agent’s help reach out to Debjani at Sunnyvaletravel.
Logistics - Get Founders Card
I got this via YEC. FoundersCard gives you great upgrades and entitlements. I have a Cathay Marco Polo membership via this.
Logistics - Cash transfer
Always, always transfer directly to your bank in India. Transfer the cash in USD and let the receiving bank do the conversion. We were screwed up twice over for transferring cash in INR, converted by our bank in the US. India has a system for accepting incoming funds. If this does not apply to you, AFEX is my next option. Jon Wolfe from AFEX is pretty prompt.
Logistics - Getting things done
Use TaskRabbit if you need things done. Sometimes when I need help transporting or cleaning up an an Airbnb’ed apartment, TaskRabbit is my choice.
Logistics - Cellphone connection
T-mobiles 50 dollar prepaid plan are the most value-for. Unlimited calls and Internet.
Logistics - Car rentals in the US
Hotwires offers the most economical deals. If you are in SF Uber and Lyft are the default choices.
Logistics - Cash
We bank with HDFC in India and every time I travel we get the prepaid credit cards. They are more than convenient.
Logistics - Storage
If you are like me and move back and forth every 6-7 months I’d suggest you store furniture, mattress and other stuff in a storage space.Colisieum storage is the best solution in the Bay Area. See reddit thread.
I hope this helps. Please feel free to correct/add to this.
This was originally posted on Cherian’s blog