Tag Archive | "Startup company"

6 Big Mistakes that Startups Make.

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6 Big Mistakes that Startups Make.


Oops!!There is a great post on Venturebeat.com about 6 common legal mistakes startups make.  Some of these have been covered elsewhere on this blog – some not.  Here is the cliff notes version- check out the post itself for more details:

  • IP Ownership – make sure it can be transferred to the startup.
  • Choice of Entity – choose carefully.  They recommend a corporation instead of an LLC.  I disagree on a certain level, as I have stated before on this blog and my Indiana Law Practice Blog.
  • Place of Incorporation – they say Delaware.  Again, I disagree to an extent (see this post).
  • Vesting Restrictions – make sure founders stock vest over time, otherwise you run the risk of a founder leaving early on and keeping all of his /her stock.
  • Securities Law Compliance – beware of not complying when issuing any securities to anyone, no matter who they are.
  • Legalzoom – avoid like the plague.  Hire an attorney! 🙂

Posted in Choosing a Business Type, Raising Capital, Running a Business, Starting a BusinessComments Off on 6 Big Mistakes that Startups Make.

The 10 Ways Startup Advice Is Flawed

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The 10 Ways Startup Advice Is Flawed


President Barack Obama unveiled initiatives to help small businesses, saying the U.S. has “a long way to go” to ensure that credit flows to an area of the economy hit hard by the recession.
“There is still too little credit flowing to our small businesses. There are still too many entrepreneurs who can’t get the loan they need to open their doors and start hiring,” Obama said in a speech at Landover, Md.-based Metropolitan Archives, a family-owned firm that stores and delivers paper files for large companies. “There are still too many who are struggling to make payroll and stay open. And there are still too many successful small businesses that want to expand further and hire more but just don’t have the capital to do it.”

I read an interesting post on Gigaom.com titled “The 10 Ways Startup Advice is Flawed.”  It focuses on advice given by people perceived as successful start-up entrepreneurs – attacking the premise that someone’s status (i.e. wealth, fame…etc) may not necessarily be related to what they did as a start-up – and that therefore their advice is not sound.  Here is a key excerpt from the post.You can read the whole post here.

1. Maybe the thing they did really didn’t cause them to get rich. A lot of startup stories are after-the-fact rationalizations or outright myths. As they say in Latin (and on the “West Wing”):Post hoc ergo propter hoc. In other words, just because something takes place after something else, doesn’t mean the two have a causal relationship.

2. Maybe they got lucky. After all, as my grandmother used to say, “Even a blind pig eventually finds a truffle.”

3. Maybe they did the thing they said and it was actually a bad idea, but they were in the right place at the right time. A lot of powerful businesses (especially network-effects businesses) are largely resilient to incompetence.

4. Maybe the thing they did worked, but only in conjunction with some other unnamed factor. For example, many visionaries partner with a heads-down, practical type.

5. Maybe the thing they did worked, but it only under certain circumstances. For example, perhaps it worked in their industry and not in yours, or only in certain phases of growth, or for certain kinds of teams.

6. Maybe the thing they did used to work, but it doesn’t anymore. For example, perhaps competitors now know how to counter such a move.

7. Maybe the thing they did worked, but for a different reason than they think. For example, perhaps it was the feedback of their customers, not their grand original idea, that was key to success.

8. Maybe they didn’t really do the thing they said they did. Most of the mythological startup stories are highly misleading. Many of us remember the past the way we wish it had been rather than the way it actually was.

9. Maybe they’re not really rich and/or famous. A lot of startup energy goes into what I call “success theater” –- that is, convincing the world that you and your startup is successful. Next time you’re listening to a guru, ask yourself: How do I really know that they’re successful? What is their definition of success? What’s mine?

10. Maybe they have an agenda. Ask yourself: Does this person stand to benefit if I follow this advice? The VCs I know and trust are honest and very pro-entrepreneur, but I routinely hear others give advice that entrepreneurs should be suspicious of. Fundamentally, their incentives are based on having a portfolio of startups. As an entrepreneur, you have a portfolio of one. Think about that the next time a VC advises you to swing for the fences.

I tend to agree with most of this.  I see a lot of this in the startup world – bad advice from people that really have no business handing out advice.  And I REALLY see a lot of number 9 – “success theater” as they call it.  So many start ups exude a ton of energy, maybe get a little bit of hype, but really have barely any substance or success behind the business.  The point is, be careful who you take advice from and how seriously you take that advice.

What do you think?  Received any bad startup advice lately?

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Should Founders Assign IP to Their Tech Startups?

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Should Founders Assign IP to Their Tech Startups?


Handing Over the KeysThe short answer is YES!

Lots of technology startups, internet startups and software startups I work with have typically developed some degree of intellectual property prior to actually organizing a business entity (corporation, LLC…etc). Sometimes that IP is very early stage, sometimes, especially in the case where a founder is a developer or engineer, the IP may be very far along in terms of development. Sometimes that IP may simply be a domain name. This may not seem like a big problem initially – but if the company ever wants to (a) enter into any significant contractual relationships relating directly or indirectly to the IP, (b) raise capital via private equity or debt, or (c) sell the business, not assigning the IP to the company can be a big problem. The other parties in the transactions mentioned in the previous sentence will require that the company represent that it owns the IP – and when it can’t make that representation (because it doesn’t) – those other parties will require that it be duly assigned by the founder to the company. What if the founder then demands a big payday? What if he walks – and takes the IP with him?

To prevent all of this and a litany of other problems, founders should assign to the company whatever IP they own / have developed that is related to the business of the company – and the assignment should be made upon inception when the first grant of stock is made to the founder. This may be done via a simple, broadly worded, IP assignment agreement.

Of course, this assignment should be coupled with other considerations, such as whether the business should hold it’s IP in an IP holding company, and how founders ownership will vest. Check back soon for posts on these topics.

As always, you should consult an attorney to help you with the matters discussed in this post.

Posted in Starting a BusinessComments Off on Should Founders Assign IP to Their Tech Startups?

Developing a Good Business Model For Your Startup

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Developing a Good Business Model For Your Startup


A friend and colleague of mine, David Castor, recently posted a series of entires on his blog about developing a good business model for early stage companies.  In a nutshell, he suggests that any good business model includes (1) a strong market opportunity; (2) a solid management team; and (3) a sound capital structure. Check out the links below if you want to read the entire series – its good stuff.


Entrepreneurial Law – Developing a Good Business Model – Part I

Entrepreneurial Law – Developing a Good Business Model – Part II
Entrepreneurial Law – Developing a Good Business Model – Part III
Entrepreneurial Law – Developing a Good Business Model – Part IV
Entrepreneurial Law – Developing a Good Business Model – Part V

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myIndianaLLC.com – Form an Indiana LLC Online!

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myIndianaLLC.com – Form an Indiana LLC Online!


MyIndianaLLC - Logo1(bvp)Today I launched a new a couple of new websites, one of which is myIndianaLLC.com. Over the past year, a good deal of my solo legal practice has been driven by the various blogs and sites I maintain on the internet, including this one.  One thing I have learned is that not everyone that finds me wants a “traditional” experience with an attorney. They know what they want in terms of legal advice or documents. They want it quick, and they want it to be affordable. They don’t need or want to meet face to face. They don’t want to visit an office. They don’t want broad representation. Some of them need an LLC formed. Some of then need a power of attorney.

myIndianaLLC.com caters to the needs of these people. By using carefully designed, interactive questionnaires that help me quickly assemble documents, I am able to form and organize an Indiana Limited Liability Company at a fraction of the cost that some other attorneys charge. In fact, the prices on myIndianaLLC.com are right on par with non-attorney legal form sites such as LegalZoom.com. Keep in mind that LegalZoom.com is not an attorney and may not give you legal advice – I can.   Not to mention that myIndianaLLC.com will form your Indiana LLC and return all of your documents to you in either 1 or 3 business days, depending on which package you purchase.  You get an Indiana LLC, prepared online by an Indiana LLC Attorney.

So what do you get?

A single member LLC starts at $400.  A multiple member LLC starts at $600.  You get:

  • Articles of Organization that have been filed with the Indiana Secretary of State (the filing fee of $87 is included in your price!).
  • A Certificate of Organization from the Indiana Secretary of State.
  • A Single Member Operating Agreement.
  • Organizing Resolutions of the Members or Managers.
  • A Membership Interest Certificate, evidencing your ownership interest in your new Indiana LLC.
  • A memo with instructions on what to do with your documents, how to apply for an EIN, various state reporting requirements, and advice regarding how to maintain the limited liability protections provided by your LLC.

How Does it work?

Follow a simple process to get started:

  1. Choose the Indiana LLC package you would like to purchase.
  2. Register for an account (subject to terms of use).
  3. Purchase your Indiana LLC package.
  4. Fill out our easy online questionnaire

Once you complete the questionnaire, the documents associated with your Indiana LLC will be generated and sent to experienced LLC attorney Brian V. Powers for review.  We will review them, follow up with any questions, file the appropriate documents with the Indiana Secretary of State, and when everything has been completed, we upload your completed documents to the site where they will be available for your download.

Why are online legal services fast and affordable?
Its the technology of course!  By using the latest in online document automation technology, your documents are prepared quickly without the need to a paralegal or legal secretary to key in your information.  Our technology is smart too – it knows how to assemble your document based on the answer you provide.  Answers are collected online.  Payments are collected online.  Documents and advice are delivered online (and by phone from time to time).  Most lawyers waste a lot of time and money on expensive offices, unnecessary staff & overhead, and client meetings.  Not here.  We focus on you and your legal needs – which saves you time and money!

Why are online legal services fast and affordable?

Its the technology of course!  By using the latest in online document automation technology, your LLC documents are prepared quickly without the need to have a paralegal or legal secretary to key in your information.  Our technology is smart too – it knows how to assemble your document based on the answer you provide.  Answers are collected online.  Payments are collected online.  Documents and advice are delivered online (and by phone from time to time).  Most lawyers waste a lot of time and money on expensive offices, unnecessary staff & overhead, and client meetings.  Not here.  We focus on you and your legal needs and organizing your Indiana LLC – which saves you time and money!

Compare Us to Others – A Licensed Attorney vs Legal Forms Providers

applesorangesI challenge you to find a better value anywhere. In fact, here is a link to the “leading” online document-preparation service: LegalZoom(tm).  I put that link there hoping you will click on it, and knowing that you’ll be back.  I spend a lot of time fixing the mistakes they, and other non-attorney document preparation services, make.  The advantage of using us – you’ll have the advantage of a real lawyer personally preparing your LLC documents and forming your Indiana limited liability company, instead of some non-attorney clerk on the other side of the country.

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Free Software For Bloomington Based Tech Start-Ups!

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Free Software For Bloomington Based Tech Start-Ups!


logo_btpSome great news for Bloomington, Ind software and technology start-ups – the Bloomington Technology Partnership recently joined the BizSpark program, which provides certain software technology companies with three years of free Microsoft software, including Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server, Visual Studio, SQL Server and more!  To be eligible for the BizSpark program, start-up companies must be:

  • privately held
  • have a software-based product or service at the core of their current or future business
  • be in business for less than three years
  • earn less than $1 million in annual revenue.

The entire press release follows:

Bloomington, Ind. — The Bloomington Technology Partnership announced today that they have joined BizSpark, an international program that provides software technology startup companies with three years of free Microsoft software.
“We are very excited to help bring cost savings to our local start up business community,” said Jeremy Sowders, Vice President of Business Development for the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) which manages the Bloomington Technology Partnership. “The BizSpark program by Microsoft is an innovative way to help companies during the critical early stages of development and for that reason we wanted to help make this resource available in Bloomington.”
The Bloomington Technology Partnership worked closely with the Indiana University Research & Technology Corporation (IURTC) to bring the BizSpark program to the Bloomington area. “The Microsoft BizSpark program fits right into our mission of helping fledgling start up ventures successfully transition into profitable entities.” added Tony Armstrong, President & CEO of the IURTC. “By sponsoring this program the Bloomington Technology Partnership strengthens the position of both the Bloomington area and Indiana University-Bloomington in today’s ultra competitive start up business environment.”
Microsoft programs available through BizSpark include Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server, Visual Studio, SQL Server and more. To be eligible for the BizSpark program, startup companies must be privately held, have a software-based product or service at the core of their current or future business, be in business for less than three years, and earn less than $1 million in annual revenue. A company may take part in the program for up to three years unless it goes public or is acquired by another company. There are no initial fees to join the program, but $100 is due from the company when it exits the program.
Companies can solicit the Bloomington Technology Partnership to be their BizSpark sponsor by visiting the program’s web page at http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/ and entering the section labeled “Startups.” After selecting the proper region, click on the Bloomington Technology Partnership as the sponsor organization.
About Bloomington Technology Partnership
The Bloomington Technology Partnership fosters the growth of Bloomington’s emerging high-tech economy. A public-private partnership established in 2008, it draws on the “best and brightest” to meet the needs of high-tech companies and their employees.
The Bloomington Technology Partnership is a program of the BEDC, a not-for-profit corporation funded through memberships from private industry, City of Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington. The Bloomington Technology Partnership is funded in part by the City of Bloomington. For more information go to www.bloomingtontech.com
Source: Bloomington Economic Development Corp.

Bloomington, Ind. — The Bloomington Technology Partnership announced today that they have joined BizSpark, an international program that provides software technology startup companies with three years of free Microsoft software.

“We are very excited to help bring cost savings to our local start up business community,” said Jeremy Sowders, Vice President of Business Development for the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) which manages the Bloomington Technology Partnership. “The BizSpark program by Microsoft is an innovative way to help companies during the critical early stages of development and for that reason we wanted to help make this resource available in Bloomington.”

The Bloomington Technology Partnership worked closely with the Indiana University Research & Technology Corporation (IURTC) to bring the BizSpark program to the Bloomington area. “The Microsoft BizSpark program fits right into our mission of helping fledgling start up ventures successfully transition into profitable entities.” added Tony Armstrong, President & CEO of the IURTC. “By sponsoring this program the Bloomington Technology Partnership strengthens the position of both the Bloomington area and Indiana University-Bloomington in today’s ultra competitive start up business environment.”

Microsoft programs available through BizSpark include Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server, Visual Studio, SQL Server and more. To be eligible for the BizSpark program, startup companies must be privately held, have a software-based product or service at the core of their current or future business, be in business for less than three years, and earn less than $1 million in annual revenue. A company may take part in the program for up to three years unless it goes public or is acquired by another company. There are no initial fees to join the program, but $100 is due from the company when it exits the program.

Companies can solicit the Bloomington Technology Partnership to be their BizSpark sponsor by visiting the program’s web page at http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/ and entering the section labeled “Startups.” After selecting the proper region, click on the Bloomington Technology Partnership as the sponsor organization.

About Bloomington Technology Partnership

The Bloomington Technology Partnership fosters the growth of Bloomington’s emerging high-tech economy. A public-private partnership established in 2008, it draws on the “best and brightest” to meet the needs of high-tech companies and their employees.

The Bloomington Technology Partnership is a program of the BEDC, a not-for-profit corporation funded through memberships from private industry, City of Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington. The Bloomington Technology Partnership is funded in part by the City of Bloomington. For more information go to www.bloomingtontech.com

Source: Bloomington Economic Development Corp.

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