Financial

Jun 14, 2024

Acquiring IP Rights & Investors: Skyrocket Your Startup & Dominate the Market

Intellectual property rights showcase a startup’s value, ability to dominate the market, and stand strong in times of adversity. Specifically, with trademarks and patents, startups are 10 times more likely to secure funding from investors and about 3 times more likely to have favorable odds when exiting as evidenced by a study from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Accordingly, the acquisition of IP rights, for startups are fiscally essential in providing a durable foundation and may be correlated with the increase in filing in Trademarks from 28% to 72 and Patents from 10% to 44% from the initial seed stage to later funding stages. There are two key reasons why these IP protections incentivize investors to engage with startups.

Branding in Market Domination and Innovation   

First, IP protections are perceived as unique signatures connecting startups with a strong brand identity. This is significant to investors for three key reasons. First, IP protections demonstrate a sense of identity to investors for a startup’s potential recognition in the marketplace. Second, investors view IP protections as vital pieces to the construction of a valuable portfolio because they can provide tangible capital in future business dealings. Third, IP protections demonstrate to investors the startup is protected against infringement. 

A Mark of Innovation Signaling Potential Leadership in the Marketplace, Longevity, and Liquidity During Times of Change

Second, IP protections, demonstrate a startup’s innovative nature. This is significant for investors for three key reasons. First, IP protections, especially patents, showcase a startup’s innovative qualities signal and demonstrate to investors the startup is unique and has strong technical capabilities. Second, IP protections, demonstrate to investors startups can establish dominance in the market because IP protections reduce competition by preventing the use of the startup’s mark. Third, IP protections signal to investors they are safe to invest because the startup could liquidate its assets for sale in unpredictable times of change.

Conclusion 

With IP protections, investors are incentivized to fund your startup, leading it to have the ability to achieve fiscal success and dominance in the global marketplace. If you are interested in the potential to achieve fiscal success, recognition, and financial support from investors, please reach out to Lloyd & Mousill, a team of visionaries, who will protect your vision and future goals. 

Acquiring IP Rights & Investors: Skyrocket Your Startup & Dominate the Market
Mar 12, 2024

Going 50/50 On Your Startup? Common Pitfalls to Consider

The Future is Uncertain

Equity, or ownership, is a company’s most expensive and most valuable asset. When splitting ownership, it is important to keep in mind that no one knows what the future may hold. You might expect that if you and your partner have equal ownership, that your work, time, or financial contributions will be equal. The reality, however, could be very different. You may end up bearing more of the workload than your co-founder and still have the same equity split. As the startup grows, each of your commitments and life priorities may change and your share of the equity split or your partners’ may no longer be representative of each of your contributions to the company. 

Founders also have different ideas about the types of contributions they will be making, and this vision changes over time as the company grows. Some may envision taking an active role in daily operations and management, while others want to handle marketing, and some may prefer a more passive style of investment. It is important that the split in ownership be reflective of these styles. It takes time to understand these differences and how to work with them, and most startup founders do not have that degree of familiarity with each other, thus making a 50/50 ownership split a risk. Startup founders that negotiate longer are more likely to decide on an unequal split, as they have been able to discover and address important differences in their expected contribution levels.

Higher Chance of Splitting Faster

Another risk with a hasty 50/50 ownership split is that it can lead to your startup falling apart fast. Compared to founders who took the time to establish a well thought and calculated equity split, those who neglected to have this discussion and chose to split equally shut down their companies significantly faster due to a fallout amongst the founders. This also applies to startup founders who are related to each other- they are more likely to spend less time negotiating equity, and in turn are also more likely to share equally and end up splitting faster. The consequences and tension of an ill established ownership split can be devastating for a startup. 

More Difficulty Bringing in Investors

A major consequence of implementing an equal ownership split is that it makes bringing in investors a lot more difficult- equal splits are sometimes seen as a sign of bigger issues within the startup. Investors tend to pay attention to the way co-founders divide ownership because it tells a lot about their experience level and engagement within the company. They may find an equal split to be impractical, and see it as an inability to negotiate seriously within and outside the company. Teams who quickly establish an equal ownership structure may face significant difficulty in raising their first round of financing, either in reduced ability to raise or in lower average valuations.

Stalemates on Key Issues

An equal ownership split between startup founders means that both partners have equal control and voting power. This inevitably leads to deadlocks and an inability to move forward on key issues, which at best could end up stalling the business. These stalemates can easily be avoided by having one founder maintain majority control, even through an almost-even split. This ensures one founder has majority voting power when it comes to important business decisions. Startup founders need to be able to compromise and negotiate for the good of the company.

Conclusion

Making these decisions can be overwhelming. Lloyd & Mousilli can help you implement the right ownership split for your startup. Our firm has the experience necessary to set your company up for success.

Going 50/50 On Your Startup? Common Pitfalls to Consider
Oct 13, 2022

Things to Consider When Allocating Startup Equity

Think About Equity from the Start

When incorporating a start-up company, founders are typically concerned with growing their company and bringing in capital to execute their vision. To properly set the company up for growth, the company needs to have a sound policy for allocating equity. There is not just one correct way for all start-ups to allocate their stock. Rather, there are many considerations that founders must address. The path to a sound corporate equity structure starts from the very beginning. Even before incorporation, meet with your co-founders and discuss these issues to ensure you start the right way.

Dividing Stock Among Founders

After determining the amount of stock your company will authorize, which is the total amount of issuable stock, you will decide how much stock each founder will receive. The number of stock issued to each co-founder should be catered to each co-founders’ involvement and relationship with the company. If one of the co-founders has a passive role in the company’s business operations, it may not make sense to issue them the same amount as someone more involved. Although this may be a difficult discussion to have with your co-founders, it ensures that the ownership of the company rests with the members closest to it.

Executing Stock Purchases and Investments

After determining the appropriate amount of stock each founder should receive, founders will need to execute some form of a stock purchase agreement. This agreement will dictate the terms of each founders’ ownership in the company. The value of each share at an early-stage company will likely be very low, so the purchase price will be small, but it is integral to enter into this agreement.

In these agreements, companies should consider whether they want to include provisions like right of first refusal, IP rights, limitations on transfer, vesting schedules, and other language that will solidify the boundaries of a given shareholders’ interest. A right of first refusal provision will give your company the initial right to buy stock from an existing stockholder that is planning to sell their interest before they can sell it to any other buyer. IP rights provisions will dictate what intellectual property will belong to the company after a stock purchase. Limitations on transfer can include many different provisions that essentially prevent the purchaser from selling their stock unless certain conditions are met. Vesting schedules are discussed below.

Vesting Schedules and Other Restrictions

Founders should determine whether to implement a vesting schedule into their issued stock. A vesting schedule is a time-based restriction to issued stock, typically applied to founders’ and employees’ stock. It incentivizes critical members of the company to stay for the long-term by preventing the member access to all their issued stock until they have been at the company for a certain amount of time.

Founders may feel like a vesting schedule is an unnecessary restriction on their interest in the company but there are a few reasons that implementing a vesting schedule is a good idea. First, potential investors love, and often request vesting schedules. From the investor’s perspective, a vesting schedule provides some assurance that the company’s key members are in it for the long haul. Second, a vesting schedule also provides an assurance to co-founders. It may seem unlikely that any of your fellow founders would abandon the company, but it is helpful to provide an extra incentive to make sure.

Option Pools for Future Use

It is also important to decide how many of the corporation’s authorized stock will be available to issue and how many will be saved for later issuance. As your company grows, you may want to offer employees some type of equity package as compensation. To do so, you would want to set up an option pool that you can eventually pull from. Typically, an option pool should make up about 10-20% of total authorized stock, with the remaining stock allocated among founders, advisors, and investors. It is crucial to decide on an option pool early on because it will dictate your corporation’s total available stock.

Compensate Advisors with Equity

Start-up companies usually benefit from hiring advisors or consultants that are not typical employees but have some sort of expertise that brings value to the company. Allocating equity to advisors is a practical consideration because the start-up may not have enough money to pay a typical compensation and it can be attractive to investors. Since advisors will usually not be involved with the management of the company, they will not be issued a large portion of the company’s stock. When deciding to bring on advisors, consider the value that they are adding and how much time they will be dedicating towards the company, and allocate stock accordingly.

Use a Capitalization Table

A capitalization table, or cap table, is a document (usually on a spreadsheet) that provides a layout of the company’s ownership distribution. After tackling the equity issues raised in this article, it is important to keep an updated cap table that documents how your company has allocated its stock and to whom they allocated it to. Therefore, the table will include all the stockholders, how much they own, what type of stock they own, how much stock the company has issued and how many are still available for issue.

There are several different software platforms that you can use to store your equity documents and produce a cap table for you. Carta and Pulley are two examples of commonly used platforms. The best way to make sure your cap table is properly constructed and regularly updated is to hire a law firm to manage this platform for you. Hiring a law firm administrator is especially helpful for start-ups engaging in multiple financing rounds because expressing the specific terms of each financing instrument can be difficult.

Lloyd & Mousilli is Here to Help

You should consider hiring Lloyd & Mousilli to successfully implement your company’s equity allocation plan. Our firm has helped form hundreds of startup companies, and we have the experience and expertise necessary to set your company up for past, present, and future equity allocation.

Things to Consider When Allocating Startup Equity