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How to Prepare for an Equity Financing

We have covered in past FTTWs how to value your startup and how much capital to raise. Once your startup decides to pursue equity financing, you should start to prepare for the investor due diligence process. On the business side, you will need to prepare a business plan and should take steps such as obtaining management references, interviews and background reviews, customer/user references, technical/product reviews, financial statements and business model reviews.

What Every Startup Needs to Know

On Wednesday, June 26th, Perkins Coie’s Palo Alto office hosted the startupPerColator event, “What Every Startup Needs to Know.” Lowell Ness, a Perkins Coie partner in the Emerging Companies & Venture Capital (ECVC) practice, moderated a panel which included Herb Stephens of NueHealth, Thomas Huot of VantagePoint Capital, Jennifer Jones of Jennifer Jones and Partners, Yuri Rabinovich of Start-up Monthly, and Olga Rodstein of Shutterfly.

Crowdfunding is not what it’s cracked up to be

On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (aka the JOBS Act), which included the cleverly titled Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud and Unethical Non-Disclosure Act, or "CROWDFUND Act." The CROWDFUND Act established a securities law exemption (codified at Section 4(a)(6) of the Securities Act) allowing startups to raise funds under conditions that would have previously been considered a general solicitation.

Interns are Likely Employees

Summer is often the season when employers consider hiring interns, but there is never a wrong time to brush up on the wage-and-hour laws surrounding paid and unpaid interns. Startup companies may view an internship program as an opportunity to hire students and develop unpaid internship programs. […]

NY Tech Week: Term Sheet Tear Down with BBG Ventures and Perkins Coie

StartupPercolator
October 17, 2023 BBG Ventures & Perkins Coie co-hosted a Term Sheet Tear Down Happy Hour during NY Tech Week, teaching women and diverse founders the intricacies of term sheet negotiation and “founder-friendly terms.” The interactive conversation with BBGV Principal Claire Biernacki and Perkins Coie Counsel Yashreeka […]

Dealing with “Dead Equity”

“Dead equity” refers to company stock owned by individuals and entities no longer contributing to the company. In general, there are two types of dead equity seen on emerging company cap tables: Departed founders/employees. A co-founder or early employee leaves a company or no longer significantly contributes […]

When Should I Form a Legal Entity?

As startup lawyers, we often receive inquiries from passionate entrepreneurs and founders seeking guidance on when they should consider taking their side projects to the next step by forming a legal entity. Forming a company is a “crossing the Rubicon” moment for any startup. It’s an essential step […]

Fiduciary Duties in Insolvency

Regardless of its financial situation, a corporation’s board of directors owes fiduciary duties to the corporation. Boards of directors of emerging companies, like mature companies, should understand the scope of their fiduciary duties and to whom and what those duties extend as they respond to the corporation’s […]

Warning Signs of Insolvency

In times of economic uncertainty, it is important for emerging companies to recognize, prevent and address financial distress. Below is a summary of what it means for a company to be insolvent, what are the warning signs of insolvency and what steps a company can take when […]

Founders’ Preferred Stock

What is founders’ preferred stock? Founders’ preferred stock (also called series FF preferred stock) addresses certain tax and accounting issues that can arise when founders decide to get early liquidity by selling shares of their stock to investors at the same price as other preferred stock sold […]

You’ve Got VC Money: The Punchlist

As outside counsel to thousands of VC-backed startups, we are often asked the same questions about what startups need to do after raising their first round of VC financing. Here is a quick and dirty list of those next steps. The action items below are described in […]

You’ve Got VC Money: Board Meetings

Board meetings are your opportunity to check in with and give an update to your bosses and get feedback and guidance from the experienced members of your board. It is common for VC-backed startups to have four to six board meetings per year, though this frequency can […]

You’ve Got VC Money: Board vs Stockholder Approval

While your financing agreements might have other requirements, below is a nonexhaustive list of the types of corporate decisions that typically require board and/or stockholder approval: Board Approval Is Required to: Stockholder Approval Is Required to: Amend the charter or bylaws. Approve significant corporate transactions (e.g., sale […]

You’ve Got VC Money: Review your IP strategy

After raising a significant amount of cash from VC investors, it is time to do a top-to-bottom review of your company’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio. To get started, here’s an overview of the four main types of IP: Patents protect rights regarding inventions and discoveries, such as […]

You’ve Got VC Money: Cap Tables

Get a Cap Table Platform The company’s cap table is a historical record of who owns how many shares of the company’s stock, stock options, warrants, convertibles, and other ownership stakes in the company. As a VC-backed company with a more complicated cap table, you must keep […]

You’ve Got VC Money: Securities Laws

Since you’ve already raised a significant VC round, you should already be familiar with the process for issuing securities to investors. Here is a refresher if you need it. Securities Laws Overview All sales, purchases, and offers to sell or purchase shares of stock or other securities […]

You’ve Got VC Money: Investor Updates

Should I Send Out Investor Updates? While generally not required, it is a good idea to send out regular investor updates (at least quarterly) to establish relationships with your investors, keep them informed, and potentially get ahead of any bad news that may arise. After you’ve established […]

You’ve Got VC Money: Human Resources

Now that you’re a VC-backed company, chances are you’re about to go hire a bunch of employees with those funds. Your investors are looking to you and your board to comply with the law and protect their investment from employee-related risks. There are numerous federal and state […]

International Women’s Day Client Spotlight: Cherie Hoeger

StartupPercolator
Happy International Women’s Day! Today is a day to recognize the achievement of women in our lives, acknowledge that gender bias still exists, and take action to forge women’s equality. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias, so we reached out to a few of our […]

How to Protect Your Startup With Insurance Requirements in Vendor Contracts

Jay Rossiter, Catherine Del Prete
Every startup will eventually have contracts with third-party vendors and suppliers to provide goods and services to the company. Taking proactive steps to ensure that the insurance requirements in your vendor contracts accurately reflect the needs of your company is vital to avoid complicated insurance issues and […]

What Is Shadow Preferred Stock?

“Shadow preferred stock” refers to a series of preferred stock that is created when a SAFE or convertible note converts into stock at a price per share that is less than the price per share for the stock issued in a new equity financing. Shadow preferred stock […]

A Crash Course on SAFEs

Here are some important things to keep in mind if you are considering raising capital in a SAFE round. What’s the Difference Between a SAFE Financing and a “Priced Round?” When raising capital, one of the main considerations is whether to (a) use a convertible security, like […]

Should We Include Transfer Restrictions in Our Bylaws?

Transfer restrictions are one of the principal tools that startups use to prevent secondary transfers of their capital stock and maintain tight control over their cap tables. Why include? As secondary sales of restricted securities become more common, perhaps as a result of blockchain-based digital securities being […]

When and How to Publish Technical Disclosures as Prior Art

StartupPercolator
Should you file a patent application or keep your innovation a trade secret? This question is routinely asked by key decision makers, such as inventors, managers, and legal counsel, when evaluating a new invention. While either choice comes with its own set of advantages and trade-offs, an […]

Top Five Differences Between Convertible Notes and Safes for Founders

StartupPercolator
SAFEs and convertible debt financings broadly accomplish the same goals for early-stage (and even later-stage) emerging companies. The legal and negotiation costs of these instruments are typically an order of magnitude less than a traditional “equity” financing (Series Seed, Series A-Z, etc.), and for the most part […]

The Delaware Franchise Tax: Don’t Freak Out

StartupPercolator
Within the next few weeks, corporations incorporated under the law of Delaware will receive ominous notices from their registered agents or the Delaware Divisions of Corporations advising such corporations of their annual obligation pay the their Delaware Franchise Tax. Save for “83(b) elections,” “scalability” and “valuation”, no […]

Angel Investors – Understanding Your Target

Most entrepreneurs will need to raise a small round of capital very early in their company’s life cycle to get the company off the ground. The amount is typically anywhere from $100K to $500K and is utilized to build the MVP (minimum viable product) and secure initial […]

Primer on California Proprietary Information and Inventions Agreements

For entrepreneurs operating in innovation-driven marketplaces, protection of intellectual property is of foremost concern.  Accordingly, startups should require each employee and independent contractor they engage to enter into a Proprietary Information and Inventions Agreement.  While agreements of this nature go by several different names (e.g., Confidential Information […]

Startup Operations – Identifying & Navigating Legal Risks

Many entrepreneurs have a good understanding of statutory limitations and regulatory constraints on the operations of the businesses they are starting.  That understanding often comes as a result of familiarity gained from years of experience operating in an industry.  Other entrepreneurs may be newer to an industry, […]

Maintain the Limited Liability Shield

Entrepreneurs should form a business entity as soon as they embark on a new startup venture.  A key feature of business entities (e.g., corporations or limited liability companies) is limited liability, meaning that the assets of the owner of the business available to satisfy claims against the […]

Term Sheets – Potential Traps for the Unwary

StartupPercolator
During its life cycle, a typical company enters into several key transactions. These can include debt and equity financings, an exclusive license of the company’s proprietary technology or an acquisition of the company by a strategic buyer. Before signing the “definitive agreement” for a key transaction, however, […]

Board Advice: Adding Advisors Versus Adding Directors

StartupPercolator
Our company clients often come to us at an early stage in their growth process with some variation of the following question: “We were introduced to an amazing resource who can help our team grow the business in a material way.  We’re considering putting the person on […]

Four Tips for Companies Considering Venture Debt Financing

StartupPercolator
Many of the benefits of raising a Series A round are obvious—improved team morale, validation from outside investors and, of course, cash.  Another benefit may be less obvious—raising a Series A round can open up new sources of capital, including venture debt.  “Venture debt” is a type […]

How to Save Time and Money When Working With Lawyers

StartupPercolator
New founders often approach service providers generally, and lawyers in particular, with a degree of caution.  They’re typically aware that they need advice, but they’re concerned that obtaining such advice will come at a cost, which most startups would prefer to avoid given the need to focus […]

Patents Are Important to Startups

StartupPercolator
Patents are important to startups because they provide a legally sanctioned monopoly that bars entry to competitors. In addition, patents may serve defensive purposes in that competitors may be less likely to sue a startup for patent infringement if there is a risk of a countersuit. Further, […]

Privacy and Advertising: Self-Regulation 101

StartupPercolator
A couple of months ago, we gave you five privacy tips relevant to startups and told you about the consequences startups face from regulators if they fail to protect their users’ privacy. Regulators like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Consumer Financial […]

Five Steps for Collecting Stockholder Consents by Email

StartupPercolator
Collecting stockholder consent by email can be more complicated than collecting director consent by email. If your company is incorporated in a state that permits stockholders to consent by electronic transmission, developing a process for collecting these consents is key to ensuring that the stockholder action is […]

Options – Structural Elements

StartupPercolator
Stock options – the right to purchase stock in the Company at a fixed price (“exercise price”) for set period of time-generate many of the questions facing a startup lawyer.  This relates to the popularity of options as a way to compensate employees and contractors. Benefits: Properly structured options are […]

Top 5 Insurance Products for Startups

StartupPercolator
Q:  How should I invest in insurance for my startup? What types of insurance do I need? What can I expect from the claim process? A:  A full risk assessment of your company’s developing business requires an audit of your potential liabilities.  However, as a general rule […]

Protect Your Earnout

The most common exit for early-stage companies is acquisition by another company.  Because early-stage companies by definition do not have a long history of revenue and earnings performance, it can be difficult for the buyer and seller to agree on valuation.  The seller will argue for a […]

Top 5 Privacy Tips for Startups

StartupPercolator
Startups have bigger concerns than privacy, or so they think. Many startups have learned that being young and small does not keep them off the radar screens of privacy regulators, and they can be vulnerable to costly investigations.  Privacy issues that come to light in the course […]

Writing an Executive Summary

StartupPercolator
Key to any early stage fundraising effort is a well-crafted Executive Summary, or Exec Summary. This succinct document describes your new venture and preemptively addresses fundamental questions that prospective investors will have. I have read hundreds of executive summaries over the years. And, the few good ones […]

A Business Plan For Your Life (And Your Death)

StartupPercolator
A great estate plan is like a business plan for yourself and those most important to you. Just as a business plan is a road map to long-term success, an estate plan is a road map to achieving peace of mind for your family and perhaps even your business partners. As we have heard many times before, there is no escaping death and taxes, so we might as well plan for both. And yet, when we work with founders, we often find that they are so consumed with running their businesses that their estate plans—their "personal" business plans—are in disarray or nonexistent. Below are a few pointers to help you begin to chart a course in estate planning.

Identifying Employees for Your Startup

StartupPercolator
The right employees help your startup rise to the top. Identifying those employees early can save time and money. The infographic below created by FocusHR points out some of the innovative strategies companies like Zappos and Google employ to find dedicated employees and create a collaborative work environment.

Anatomy of a Startup Cap. Table

StartupPercolator
One of the first steps in forming a startup, even before any documents are drafted or signed, is creating a capitalization or “cap.” table illustrating the ownership of the company. As companies grow and issue more stock to raise capital or compensate employees, their cap. tables can […]

How to Prepare for and Win a Pitch Competition

StartupPercolator
The second annual SXSW V2Venture pitch competition took place on Wednesday, July 16 in Las Vegas. During this no-holds-barred, Vegas-style pitch competition, a live audience, along with a panel of expert judges, discovered advancements in various sectors of emerging technology. Following the competition, the winning companies were […]

Startup Funding 101

Just as an individual founder has their own style when running a company, each has her/his own preferred funding strategy. Check out the infographic below which identifies four funding styles founders typically use to launch and grow their startups.

Seeing the Big Picture

When starting a new company, it’s easy to focus entirely on the business you are building, but it’s also important to make sure that you see the big picture . Here are three areas to keep covered...

The Problem With Percentages

StartupPercolator
Unfortunately, too often I hear founders say things like “I promised her options for 2% of the company,” or worse, we see statements to that effect in employee offer letters or other agreements. In the worst cases, founders will even expressly agree to issue an investor or service provider a “fixed percentage” of the company’s ownership going forward.

A Start-up’s First Office Lease Agreement – Focus on the Economics

StartupPercolator
Nearly every start-up begins in a garage, basement or home office. Some of today’s largest technology companies fall into that category, including Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Amazon. But, at some point hopefully, the start-up outgrows its humble beginnings and needs to lease office, retail or storage space in order to meet consumer demands.

Do I need to file a Section 83(b) election if vesting is imposed on my stock after it has been issued?

In a prior Founder Tip of the Week we discussed how the Internal Revenue Code (the “Tax Code”) characterizes unvested founder stock as not being purchased until it has vested, and that this characterization can have adverse tax consequences for the founder because the Tax Code treats as taxable income the excess, if any, of the fair market value of stock at the time it vests over the purchase price of the stock (the “spread”).

Get to Know the Delaware Public Benefit Corporation

StartupPercolator
A new Delaware law, signed on July 17 by Gov. Jack Markell, allows companies to be formed as public benefit corporations (PBCs), which balance stockholders’ returns, the impact on other people affected by a company's business activities, and the creation of an overall public benefit. Starting on August 1, Delaware companies will be able to form or reincorporate as PBCs, or merge with PBCs.

Include a Capitalization Table in the Term Sheet

Whether a financing, merger or other acquisition, or other major transaction, parties often outline the major provisions in a non-binding term sheet or letter of intent. A principal benefit of this approach it to help the parties identify major areas of disagreement early to avoid wasted expense on additional diligence and drafting of the definitive agreements.

Three Steps to Limit Liability and Avoid Veil Piercing

StartupPercolator
A corporation is a separate entity with its own liabilities for which the individual owners cannot be held personally liable. It is a concept that is old as dirt and right as rain, right? Surely everyone accepts this basic premise of doing business as a corporate entity? Well, perhaps everyone but the plaintiff’s attorney seeking to hold someone with deep pockets financially responsible for his client’s injuries.

Term Sheet Basics – Dilution

Dilution is a term that is frequently discussed in the context of preferred stock financings. However, it is important to understand that there is a difference between dilution in the general sense and the type of dilution with respect to which preferred stockholders receive protection.

Term Sheet Basics – Pre-money Valuation

“Pre-money” or “pre-money valuation” is a term that entrepreneurs will hear and use a lot in the context of securing equity financing, so I thought it would be a good idea to make sure entrepreneurs have a clear understanding of it.

“Backdating” In M&A?

StartupPercolator
The date of an agreement is an important part of most business transactions and M & A is no exception. Many acquisition agreements begin with an “Agreement between” the parties “effective as of” a given date. Does it matter if this effective date is prior to the date the parties actually entered into the agreement? And if so, is this ‘backdating’ problematic or even potentially illegal?

Promising Board Seats to Your Investors the Right Way

StartupPercolator
A commonplace among emerging companies is the need to promise investors seats on the board of directors. For a lot of different reasons, it makes sense to make this promise. It is usually a condition to receiving the investor’s capital, so there’s that.

Back to Basics: What Should Be Covered in Your Executive Summary?

StartupPercolator
Potential investors usually request an "Executive Summary" prior to meeting with new startups. The Executive Summary is a one- to two-page document that covers the aspects of the startup that investors care about most, including the concept, the market need and opportunity, and the startup team.

Vesting Basics – What is vesting?

“Vesting” is a term of art that is often glossed over by new entrepreneurs as they grapple with other newer and scarier terms to which they are being introduced as they start their companies, like “pre-money valuation,” “fully-diluted capitalization” and “broad-based weighted average antidilution adjustments.” However, I think it is good for entrepreneurs to have a thorough understanding of what vesting means.

Basics Of Convertible Note Financings

StartupPercolator
Convertible notes are a common structure for private company financings, most often for early stage companies trying to raise $1 million or less (see "Your First Vehicle for Fund Raising: Convertible Notes or Preferred Stock"). Here is a summary of the types of terms for such financings, and a quick primer on what to look out for if you’re considering this type of funding.

Privacy by Design

StartupPercolator
Starting a consumer-facing technology company or developing a new application to make a consumer's life easier or more fun is an exciting journey. At this stage, you are all about the development, getting the product or service to market, and making sure it can scale. But neglecting the privacy implications of your product or service during the development stage is a big mistake that will come back to haunt you later. Imagine, for example, that your dream of building a great company has come true and you are faced with an acquisition offer. During the customary due diligence phase, you quickly discover that your privacy house is not in order. Why?

Old Advice is Good Advice – Keep it Simple

StartupPercolator
As founders, you are likely very familiar with the multitude of obstacles that a successful venture must overcome: financing, management, creation and protection of valuable intellectual property, marketing, and building profitable and sustainable customer relationships. Another obstacle that is well known yet rarely labeled as such is “complexity.” In building a new venture, the old adage “keep it simple” remains an important philosophy.

Establish a Culture of Giving

A company's culture is often established in its earliest days. Once ingrained, it can be very difficult to change. Although many founders recognize the importance of infusing a culture of giving into their enterprises, they wonder how they can go about it with limited time and resources. The answer should be apparent to every founder. Early stage companies can meet cultural challenges with the same tactics they use for meeting operational challenges with limited cash. When early stage companies don't have cash, they apply "sweat" or "equity." How do you apply "sweat" and "equity" to establish a culture of giving?

Paying Consultants and Strategic Partners with Equity

StartupPercolator
At one time or another, most startup companies work with a consultant or enter a contract with a strategic partner and are presented with a dilemma: should the company offer equity to the consultant or strategic partner in payment for services?

50-50 “Partnerships” Only Work in Fairy Tales

One of the most common conversations I have with the founders of businesses involves how they determined a way to split the ownership amongst themselves. It is probably the first difficult decision new partners face together in starting a company. In many instances, the new founders decide that they are going to split ownership equally.

Who Really Owns “Your” IP?

StartupPercolator
"This deal is standard. Let's close TODAY!!" We've heard this so many times only to find out that the early stage technology start-up hasn't fully protected its intellectual property and, as a result, funding gets delayed, or in some extreme cases, even cancelled.

Personal v. Business Expenses?

StartupPercolator
Many startup owners, in the early days as the sole owner, may feel tempted to run “sort of” personal expenses through their corporation on the theory that they have no other owners to harm.

Leasing Your Office Or Facility – What Are You Getting?

StartupPercolator
Negotiating a lease for your company's office or facility can be precarious. Real estate is not your core business, and you do not want to spend tremendous time (or expense) finalizing the lease document. In addition, start-ups and emerging companies without strong financials do not enjoy significant leverage in strong real estate markets.

Delaware Franchise Taxes 101

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.

Special Classes of Founders Stock

StartupPercolator
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.

Classifying Employees: Independent Contractors Or Exempt

StartupPercolator
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.

Fund GENEROUSLY to Milestones

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...

Post-Employment Noncompetition Obligations Are Generally Unenforceable In California

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.

Valuation: How Much is Your Startup Worth?

StartupPercolator
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?

“Your First Vehicle for Fund Raising: Convertible Notes or Preferred Stock?”

StartupPercolator
"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.

Maintaining Good Corporate Hygiene

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.

83(b) Election Basics

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...

How to Use an Advisory Board

StartupPercolator
Advisory boards are powerful tools used by companies at all stages of development. Advisory boards are generally comprised of business leaders, scientists, professionals or other persons of influence. Advisory boards can have general duties, such as providing critical advice and introductions, or they can be more issue-focused, such as advising on specific industry sectors or particular products, transactions or other critical strategic decisions.

Startup Lessons from Bob Dylan

StartupPercolator
Entrepreneurs think big, with visions of iconoclastic products and services that transcend markets. To help these lofty goals, entrepreneurs must learn lessons from innovators in other industries. Today, we turn to the freewheelin' Bob Dylan for some unconventional startup advice.

Back to Basics: Consider the Number of Shares to be Issued When You Form Your Startup

StartupPercolator
There is no required minimum or maximum number of shares by law that must be issued to founders or reserved in the equity incentive (stock option) pool in a startup. Of course, what does matter is the percentage of the company each individual stockholding represents. A startup may issue 100 shares or 100 million shares at formation, and 50 shares in the former or 50 million shares in the latter still represents 50% of the equity of the startup. A typical equity pool is between 10% and 20% of the total number of shares issued and reserved for issuance.

Changing Roles: From Founding CEO to “Employee”

StartupPercolator
Perhaps few times for an emerging growth company present more risk than the transition of a founder/CEO to "employee" status. This often happens later in the startup life cycle, when a company has funding and/or sales traction. The difference between a smooth and rocky transition can represent the difference between success and failure of the company.

Founders Equity Vesting

StartupPercolator
If there are two or more founders in a startup, an important consideration regarding the initial issuance of equity to the team is vesting of the founders' equity.

IP Owners Beware

StartupPercolator
It is important for founders and IP owners to be wary of the practice derogatorily referred to as “patent trolling.” This practice occurs when a company that has a patent right, either through development or acquisition, enforces those rights against other businesses in an opportunistic manner and typically without any intention to practice, manufacture or market the patented invention.

Write on Paper, Not “Parchment”

StartupPercolator
When writing your business plan, stay clear, concise and succinct. Follow these three simple guidelines to better make your point to your intended audience. 1. Cut pretense - and acronyms. 2. State your point in the first sentence. 3. Use easy to read formatting.

Conduct Research on Potential Investors

Raising capital for a new startup can be a daunting task for the founders. There are several types of investors and capital sources for startup projects, including friends and family members, angel investors (high net worth individuals), venture capital funds, corporate/strategic investors, and government grants. Each of these capital sources has different investment criteria and expectations.

Developing Your Social Media Presence

To engage potential and current consumers in today's evolving online environment, it is necessary to build a web presence that communicates your company's message and vision in a compelling and effective way. Social media outlets, such as Twitter and other online relationship building tools, can help you develop a bond with your target audience that is built on mutual engagement.

Put Your Customers First

StartupPercolator
Improve the probability of startup success by maintaining maniacal focus on the needs of your customers. A startup may capture disproportionate media attention with aggressive PR, but nothing can replace the power of extremely satisfied customers.

Benefit as a Benefit Corporation

StartupPercolator
Is your business making the world a better place but struggling to communicate its public benefit to consumers and investors? Consider filing as a Benefit Corporation or pursuing B Corp Certification to differentiate your company from the crowd.

Selecting a Name for Your Startup

StartupPercolator
There is one thing people will always associate with your business - its name. Apple, Patagonia, Facebook, Ford - tech, non-tech, it does not matter. A memorable name can be integral to your brand. And today that brand lives both offline and online, so you should choose a name that is not only evocative of your brand but also is useable online, because the internet drives or touches so much of modern commerce.

Find Top Talent for Your Startup

StartupPercolator
Finding top talent is a challenge for any company, but for a startup it is crucial for success. Traditional methods of finding employees have been replaced, unsurprisingly, with online networking and target marketing.

Advice to New Founders

StartupPercolator
Starting a business can feel like a roller coaster ride. Learning from the successes and failures of fellow entrepreneurs can help you cope with the highs and lows of business development.