TL;DR: Would presenting your SaaS on the world web stage as created by a UK business (ltd), instead of by a continental European individual with a non-English sounding name, make a difference in terms of gaining traction?
I'm soon going to launch a Twitter marketing related SaaS (pro.hashtagify.me ). I'll use FastSpring for payments, so I don't need to incorporate to receive payments from businesses and to deal with VAT.
If I'll get traction I'm going to incorporate for sure, but I'm wondering if incorporating (in the UK) before launch anyway would be worth the hassle, just to present myself as "Hashtagify Ltd" instead of "Daniele Mazzini". I'm thinking about the trust you would give an unknown entity just for that difference. What do you think (or, even better, know by experience)?
PS: I also launched a poll on HN, but would like to get reasoned answers
Good question, which I voted up because I asked this myself many times. I have no conclusion for it, just a feeling how I want to try.
I use my real name as my cooperate name. Of course I have a brand (my product), but for business - means all transactions, payments, official coomunication - I use my real name. I have chosen to do so because I thought, what, if somebody does a research and finds out that I am a one man show who has incooperated only to get more attraction? Then I decided to show people "what I am", open, honest and try to avoid confusion. After all, having a strange sounding name but a company in the UK is for me like hiding from the sun and gives me a strange feeling.
I know some people prefer an english name, even when there is chinese business man behind, which is not only curious, it is a joke when we look at todays business, were we all work in an international environment. Anyway... I am waiting for the outcome of your poll.
I would be surprised if this was a deciding factor for people using your service or not. There is no question that it would look more professional as a business name, but as for being a deciding factor, I don't think so. With that in mind, if you want to do it later once you have traction I see no problem with it.
I just can't imagine that this decision could be the reason that makes or breaks your business, so save some dollars for now.
Businesses like to deal with other businesses, so being an Ltd would give a better impression for potential commercial clients. They like the comfort of the business, rather than just a one-man-band. Of course, you may be a one-man Ltd, but that doesn't seem to occur to them so readily.
Also, it is worth keeping in mind that there are many advantages to being a limited company, most importantly the word "limited" means that if things go wrong, your personal assets are not at risk. As a sole trader (self-employed) you can lose everything, but with the Ltd your liability is limited to the share capital you invest (which can be a nominal amount).
Running a UK Ltd is fairly trivial and there are some useful tax advantages, so I never see why anyone would be self-employed or act as a sole trader, when an Ltd is so beneficial.