I have a startup! I incorporated The Toymaker Project, LLC, a couple of weeks ago. I won’t be writing too much about the specifics of what the company will be doing until I launch something concrete, but I wanted to share some of my experiences in creating a sex/kink-positive startup.
The first challenge turned out to be finding a local bank that would let me open an account even though my company isn’t registered in Massachusetts. (As my lawyer has advised me, as an online-only business I have no need to be registered in Massachusetts right now.)
After a couple of unsuccessful bank visits, phone calls, and emails, I located a nice, local bank that didn’t care that I wasn’t registered in Massachusetts. When I went in to sign up for an account, the friendly banker kept asking polite but specific questions about the nature of the business, and I tried to be as vague as possible. The paperwork went pretty quickly. I got my bank account number and starter checks with a promise that my debit card would be arriving in a couple of weeks.
When asked for the business email address, it didn’t occur to me to give him anything other than my toymakerproject.com email address. After I’d left the bank, I got a call from the banker saying that they had brought up the website — was this really what I was doing? He said he was getting questions about the company and needed to describe my business. I tried to explain that currently the site was just a blog (and that it would be best not to visit it from the bank), but that I would be launching the main site later.
We hung up, and a few minutes later I decided to go back to the bank. It wasn’t fair to put him in the awkward position of trying to explain what I do — I would rather explain everything myself. So I went back in and sat down with him. I apologized for putting him in an awkward position, and explained in greater detail the types of things I’m interested in doing with the business. He told me that “the bank had decided” to close my account. “Phone calls were made,” he said. I apologized for wasting his time, and he apologized for wasting mine.
So, that was that. My company had a bank account for all of thirty minutes.
I’ve called my lawyer, and I’ll see about getting her advice about where to go from here. Sure, I can be even more vague about what I do or not give out my toymakerproject.com email address. Even so, the last thing I want is to sign up for an account, and then have it cancelled suddenly after a week, a month, or six months when someone does the Google search. I would still really like to work with a local bank if I could, but now I’m not so sure it will happen. We’ll see.
I can’t say I’m surprised, but it still hurt. The day before I had a fantastic meetup with a whole group of people who were excited to hear about everything I’ve been working on. I have an awesome studio space and lots of friends who help me out with my projects. And now I have my reminder: this is what sex-negativity looks like.
You are much more patient and even-tempered than I, apparently. I’m sorry you went through that. Can you maybe talk to other sex-positive businesses in the area and see where they do their banking?
Yay for surrounding yourself with positivity! Remember that you are not the problem. You are the solution.
Yeah, asking around is a good idea. Good Vibrations comes to mind, but they’re based out of California so I’m not sure whether or not they’d be doing much with a local bank (as opposed to a larger, national chain). I wonder who NELA banks with?
Why a local bank? I suspect the big national chains, while cold and anonymous, also probably don’t care what kind of business you’re in.
I generally have the philosophy of supporting local businesses when I can, ideally for better small-business service. But if cold and anonymous is all I can get, I’ll take that.
how did things eventually evolve? Did you find a local bank or go with an online business? Would love to see an update.
Thanks for asking! I have a local bank now, although I had to market my company differently. We’ll see how long this one lasts.
The startup itself is going pretty well! I owe updates both here and to my Passionate Produce newsletter subscribers, TBH.
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