I want to start a network of websites all with similar names and themes to sell certain merchandise. Should I have one C-corp with all of the websites registered under it and individually trademark the sites? Or should I register each website as a different entity, even though it will be far more tedious? As far as exits go, how will I be affected if I want to sell one of the sites, but not all?
by Naomi Kokubo, Cofounder of Founders Space
I can tell you that it pays to keep things as simple as possible. If I were starting a business, I would need a pretty darn compelling reason to form multiple companies at once, one around each website. The fact that Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google can run vast business empires under a single entity speaks volumes.
Trademarking each website’s name is a good move. It’s easy to do and great way to protect your brand. The fact is that most startups are hard enough to manage, and I wouldn’t personally want the hassle of filing multiple tax returns and managing multiple corporations. As far as I’m concerned, the less administrative chores I have, the more I can focus on building my business.
I wouldn’t worry about exits at this stage. If you’re really lucky, one or two of your sites will be worth acquiring, while the others will be of nominal value. That said, what you need to do is seek some professional advice from a good lawyer before you form your company. Someone needs to understand exactly what type of business you’re running and how to best structure it. A corporation may be the best entity, or it may be an LLC. Again, get advice now and save yourself a lot of headaches down the road. And when in doubt, think small. You can always make it more complicated as you grow larger.
I hope this helps!
Tip: Consider using a filing service such as Legal Zoom where they file all the documents with the state, get your record book, and more.