Sometimes, about January, I get an urgent call from a founder telling me that his or her corporation has received a franchise tax bill from the State of Delaware for tens of thousands of dollars.
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The vast majority of technology startups are capitalized in the same manner: common stock to the founders, common stock reserved in an option pool for employees and consultants, and preferred stock (Series A, Series B, etc.) sold to investors. However, a small but probably growing percentage of startups consider a more complicated stock structure that includes, in addition to the types of equity above, a special class of common stock reserved for founders.
If there is a ground zero of potential liability, this is it. Cash-strapped federal regulators and states are focusing on misclassification cases with renewed zeal and enthusiasm. And companies, even with the best of intentions, often mischaracterize employees as independent contractors (consultants or advisers). Independent contractors are not subject to wage and hour laws, meaning they don’t need to be paid minimum wage or overtime, are not subject to payroll taxes, and are not entitled to meal and rest periods. Some companies use the “try and buy” approach of hiring a “contractor” for a few months before “converting” him or her to a full-time employee. But companies and contractors are not free to decide what type of relationship they are creating. Federal and state laws alone dictate what constitutes an employee versus an independent contractor relationship.
Founders often seek advice regarding the amount of capital to be raised. The conventional wisdom is to raise sufficient capital to permit the company to achieve a milestone that will result in a material increase in the company’s value. The milestone might be…
As a founder of a new company, you’re probably overworked, underpaid, and swamped with problems that everyone is looking to you to fix. You probably also have some valuable people working with you and you want to keep them happy and healthy. For small employers, the Affordable Care Act created a tax credit that could make it easier for you to afford to offer health coverage to your employees. Of course, there are limits and conditions (this is an IRS program, after all).
For a start-up company, noncompetition agreements typically arise in one of the following contexts; a founder or new employee entered into a confidential information and inventions assignment agreement (or similar agreement) with his or her former employer that prohibits competing with the former employer, the start-up company wants to prohibit a terminated employee from competing with the company, or in an acquisition, the buyer demands a founder and/or key employee sign a noncompetition agreement.
How does a technology startup determine its valuation? Is it an art, a science or a combination of the two? Does a startup’s valuation increase if it has a slick pitch deck and a clever company name? Should a startup use a Ouija board to determine its valuation?
“I think we need about $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 for our first round of funding. Should we use convertible notes or issue preferred stock?” This is one of the most common questions we get from entrepreneurs looking to raise their first round of outside funding. When deciding between convertible notes or preferred stock, consider these key factors.
As a founder of a start-up company, you will likely be spending the bulk of your time refining your business plan, pitching your ideas to VCs and looking for talented and experienced employees to fill out your team. Admittedly, in the early days, you probably won’t have much time for anything else, including attending to corporate formalities. However, giving some early attention to establishing and maintaining good corporate hygiene will pay dividends down the road that far exceed the fairly nominal investment required up front, especially when it comes to raising money or gearing up for an ultimate exit, such as a sale of the company or IPO. Here are a few fairly simple things that every start-up should do early in its lifecycle.
We find ourselves explaining 83(b) elections several times a week, so we thought it would be a good blog topic.
In the start-up world, the opportunity to file of an 83(b) election generally arises in the context of a founder purchasing low-priced “founder” common stock of a start-up company that is subject to vesting, or an employee, director or other service provider of such a company “early exercising” an option for stock that is subject to vesting. Such stock is sometimes also referred to as “unvested” stock or stock subject to “reverse vesting.” All this means is that…