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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...