The most important legal ramification of a Canadian launching a business in Silicon Valley is immigration. You must have a visa that allows you to operate the business (hire and manage employees, etc) in order to be running a business.
I started a business in Canada and was able to attract great Silicon Valley angel investors to invest in the Canadian corp. In the early-stages, there is less importance placed on where the business is domiciled than what the business has managed to achieve or who it's founders are.
There are significant advantages to keeping the business in Canada in the earliest stages and then moving to the Valley as you look to raise further funds and scale your business.
Without a doubt, it's good to be making frequent trips to SF & the Valley so as to build your network but from an actual formation perspective, I would argue that there are more benefits in the majority of cases to staying in Canada in the earliest stages.
Happy to talk to you about this in a brief call.
Best of luck!
I'd strongly recommend you reach out to Mr. Roham Gharegozlou, the owner of AXIOM ZEN technology/design company in Vancouver. Suffice to say, the bloke is rather ZEN! See: www.axiomzen.co // My engagement with him has been pleaseant and I think the man is heavey #meta! (my way of saying he's very clever!) - Feel free to call me for further information as I know many Canadian business leaders in various verticals in Tech, Marketing and Entertainment! (BK)
Form a Corporation or LLC
The best way to do this is to have a service firm do the work for you with the state for a small fee. We have used, and reommend Legal Zoom.
Get a business permit
While the County of Santa Clara issues no licences, the mailtain a great list of all the individual cities and their phone numbers for their business/license permit offices. Check out Santa Clara County business license per page.
Santa Clara has reasonable fees. Check them out.
Get Business Cards
A general liability policy is a small investment. We recommend:
Get a Bank Account
WAMU seems to have the best basic business checking, and no fees.
Get yourself a web site
We use 1and1.com and recommend them highly. Good service and reasonable cost, and free tools. You will have what you need fast.