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L. Spiro

Starting a Game Company

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Usually when someone posts a question about how to get into the game industry, a little bit of “if you have to ask you aren’t suitable for it” runs down my spine.

Now I am on the other side of the fence. Except that I know fully well I am not suitable to run a game company since I know absolutely nothing about owning businesses.

I want to create a project on Kickstarter, but Kickstarter only allows American businesses. I live and work in Japan.
So I was reading [url="http://www.xenonauts.com/kickstarter.html"]this[/url].

I then realized that I am actually American, and have both an American passport and driver’s license (2 forms of ID needed to make a bank account).

Actually this is the not the first time I have contemplated making my own company, so my questions here were bound to be asked sooner or later.
But now we have some context.
#1: There will be no staff.
#2: We won’t actually make anything.
#3: We will just exist for the sake of existing.
#4: I don’t even really need a building, floor, or room, but…


…doesn’t a company require an address?

My main question is about the address.
I am naively sure that all businesses must have a mailing address.

And then there is the other issue: taxes.
While I continue to live and work in Japan, to what things do I need to pay attention in regards my to company related to taxes and business/law in general?
I intend to “run” it from afar, but with the idea that there is nothing to really “run”.


I have family in certain parts of America but none in New York where my company needs to be established.
If I need a mailing address, does that not mean I need to rent space in some New York building and pay every month?
And what about monthly or yearly taxes? The company will produce no income so I would be paying just out my own salary at my current place of work in Japan.


Am I correct or mistaken? How so?
Feel free to throw in tidbits of information that I was too ignorant to request.


L. Spiro Edited by L. Spiro

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I've the same desire... but I'm not american which makes it really difficult, but there's light at the end of the tunnel, as far as I know there are rumors, or even plans, that kickstarter goes international, starting with UK this year. Just in case that you're not able to find a solution or have some time.

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I don't really live in America, but I believe in general the rules should be similar in most countries. A company has to be registered to a physical address. Usually the rooms must be rented or owned by the company or there must be a written and signed agreement from the owner of rooms about letting you run the business there.

About taxes I'd probably try asking from accountant forums (such as http://www.accountantforums.com/). They could probably give you a lot better advice about accounting.

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My advice:

If you are starting a venture where you collect people's money, do [i][b]not [/b][/i]rely on an article you read on the internet as the basis for creating your business.

Hiring an hour or two of a competent attorney's time is just as important an expense as buying a new video card or backup server. Probably even more so. Sure, you can show them the link and ask "is this correct". But to just rely on it would be (IMHO) quite risky.

Brian Schmidt
Executive DIrector,
[url="http://www.GameSoundCon.com"]GameSoundCon[/url]
GameSoundCon San Francisco: October 24-25 2012 Edited by bschmidt1962

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The [url="http://www.sba.gov/"]Small Business Administration[/url] in the US provide information which may help to answer your questions. You'll probably want the section on "[url="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business"]starting & managing a business[/url]" and perhaps more specifically "[url="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/establishing-business/inc"]incorporating & registering a business[/url]".

There's also an eHow article on "[url="http://www.ehow.com/how_6426438_register-business-america.html"]how to register a business in America[/url]" which has some brief information and links, although obviously keep in mind the non-official nature of the information and be sure to verify the facts before relying on anything.

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My friend owns a business (in Thailand with an actual physical office and employees) and he additionally uses a “virtual office” in London.
He recommended this to me: http://www.servcorp.co.jp/en/virtual-offices/


What are your thoughts? I don’t know enough “starting a business” context to know how to ask a more-intelligent question.


L. Spiro

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If you know nothing about managing a business , I doubt if Kickstarter may help anyway. You'll need someone to handle it anyway.

Why not look for an angel investor or a partner instead if you believe in your project?

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[quote]Postal Boxes?
Definitely smaller rent than an actual floor.
You can probably reroute all content to your address from there, but I can't say if dodging the bullet is legal.[/quote]

Do NOT do this! I did a lot of research on this topic because I was interested in starting a company outside of the state that I currently reside in. After a few weeks of searching, I found examples were people were arrested and/or fined for doing this. It isn't illegal everywhere, and many of the laws regarding this are vague, but it just isn't worth it.

I would give the same advice regarding virtual offices. It's so hard to know if you are breaking a law in the country you actually reside in, or the country your business is supposed to be located in. The right way to do this is to hire a lawyer (specifically one that has knowledge of international business law concerning the two countries in question).

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[quote name='L. Spiro' timestamp='1348146109' post='4982011']
I have family in certain parts of America but none in New York where my company needs to be established.
[/quote]

Why new york? Why US?

Most of the big multinational companies are very selective about where they are 'based' for tax reasons. The majority of companies don't have this luxury .. they make a physical product, in a physical location. The advantage with making software, is there is no actual product aside from information, and information doesn't pay attention to borders.

Certain countries are very well setup for exactly this scenario, including the having a postal address etc.

A company is a separate legal entity to the people who work for it. Just as you currently work for another company in japan, there's no reason why you could not arrange to have a company formed in say, the cayman islands, and work for them remotely. There's no reason why this 'hypothetical company', that makes software, needs to pay any taxes to the US, other than via the income they pay to you.

Of course, this is all purely hypothetical, you never heard this, and I was never here. [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/ph34r.png[/img]

*edit* [i]Having reread your original post, it suggests the reason for the US may be the possibility of kickstarter funding, so you can disregard most of this. Although it still may be possible to take advantage of more beneficial tax regimes at some point while still operating 'from' the US (see google with the 'double irish' and the 'dutch sandwich', very sneaky!), it may be that at this stage the process of getting external funding is more important to you than the operating stages of the company.[/i]*/edit* Edited by lawnjelly

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