Steps to starting a company in 2014

I saw this list put together by Ryan Roberts;  a startup lawyer who represents technology companies through all phases of the startup process, including incorporation, seed & venture financings, and exit transactions and couldn’t help but post it here for everyone to read – all the loves goes to him though for putting it together – I’m just spreading it. Thanks again Ryan – this is the best I’ve seen.

Incorporation

(1) When: As soon as I was serious about making my startup a business
(2) Type of Legal Entity: C Corporation, and not an S Corporation or LLC
(3) State of Incorporation: Delaware (since I’m at least potentially looking to raise capital)
(4) Authorized Shares in Certificate of Incorporation: 10,000,000 sharesof Common Stock
(5) Par Value of Common Stock: $0.00001 per share
(6) Aggregate Stock Issuance to the Initial Founders: 6,000,000 shares
(7) Founders Equity Split: Depends on the Team, But Quickly but only after the Difficult Conversation(s)
(8) Vesting For All Founders?: Heck yeah
(9) Vesting Schedule: 4 years with a 1-year Cliff with Double-trigger Acceleration
(10) Payment for Founders’ Shares: Cash and Intellectual Property
(11) Handling of “Lost Founders”: Get an Assignment and/or Release (then wish them well)
(12) Freak-Out on My Lawyer When I get My Delaware Franchise Tax Bill?: No

Incubators, Mentors, Advisors and Developers

(1) Choosing an Incubator: It’s all about the mentorship
(2) Incubator Funding Documents: Easy and Light
(3) Strike a Deal with a Mentor During the Incubator Program?:Probably not
(4) Raise a Round Before Demo Day?: No, wait until after…unless it’s a great Series A.
(5) Option Grant Size to an Advisor: 0.10% to 0.50%, but only after execution of an Advisor Agreement
(6) Outsource all Technical Development?: No

Raising Capital

(1) Length of Investor NDA: 0 pages
(2) Fees Paid to Pitch: $0
(3) Investors: Accredited only (no crowdfunding until the rules are easier on startups)
(4) Seed Round Structure: Convertible Notes
(5) Convertible Note Incentive: Discount and Price Cap, but with aliquidation preference regulator.
(6) Convertible Note Interest: 2-8%, but hopefully 2%
(7) When to Hold Closing: On a Rolling Basis
(8) First Purchase after Closing: A Legit Scanner

To all those who dare to start a company in 2014! Now go for it.

It’s more than the green stuff

Here’s the deal. If you’re smart, you realize that “the right investors” can offer you way more value than just the green stuff they are putting into your deal. I think entrepreneurs – because they are desperate, jump way to soon and end up in bed with someone who might have money, but beyond the money, they are pretty much useless.

Instead of looking at the investor as, holly shit this guy has a ton of money, look at him like, who does this guy know? What can he teach me? Who are his contacts? How well does he know the industry I am in? Try this next time and I promise you will be thanking me later.

I share this because I think all entrepreneurs F this up at some point in their entrepreneurial career. I have, you will, everyone does. Why? Because we are normal people who get excited and end up pulling the trigger to soon. Take my advice and the thousand other entrepreneurs that have pulled the trigger to soon. Be smart.

The other thing that I’ve learned, when your dealing with venture capitalists, they know their shit and they have been around the block a few times. And, when you get the right VC involved in your deal, it is the difference between achieving minimal vs. maximum success.

Here is where VC’s tend to offer the most value: 

1. Their networks: They’ve spent their entire life building their network. This includes: investors, partners, talent, vendors, distributors, etc.

2. Experience, knowledge, and wisdom: They can help you understand what it is going to take to make your deal a huge success. They have been there and done that. Listen to them. If you think you no more, you need to be bitch slapped.

3. Sources to other green: When you spend your entire life building and growing companies you end up having several investor and VC relationships. Tap into this, It’s the fastest route. I promise.