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.
“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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
Human behavior and motivation has a critical role in the design of websites. Does the website for your startup cater to your audience and create a pleasant user experience?
Founders should make sure that their companies’ agreements assign intellectual property presently. In other words, an agreement should provide that the assigning party (the “assignor”) “hereby assigns” to the company the intellectual property in question.