Emerging Business & Technology: A Baker’s Dozen Tips For Startup Success

Written by Jeffrey Bodle and Andy Hamilton of Morgan Lewis

A Baker’s Dozen Tips for Startup Success created by Morgan Lewis partners Jeffrey Bodle and Andrew Hamilton in anticipation of the 2017 PACT Capital Conference. Jeff and Andy, co-chairs of the 2017 conference, have built their practice through counseling emerging businesses and companies at all stages of the business lifecycle, and pooled their knowledge and experiences into a list of tips every startup should consider.  Feel free to check out Morgan Lewis’ Entrepreneur Resource Headquarters for guidance on matters related to your business.

  1. Begin with the end in mind.
  2. Avoid showstoppers. Eliminate or mitigate prior employer IP, confidential information or noncompete
    entanglements. Appropriately consider any applicable University IP policy and rights.
  3. Follow proper corporate and equity issuance formalities. Understand tax implications and
    corporate law requirements.
  4. Build good hygiene habits from day one. Obtain, compile and store all signed documents.
  5. Handle hard founder decisions early. Navigate choice of entity, equity split, governance and
    immigration considerations. Use vesting provisions and transfer restrictions to protect the equity
  6. Do not promise equity. Also specify amounts, not percentages, when discussing equity.
  7. The law applies to startups too. Be mindful of consequences: criminal offense versus traffic
    ticket and are there any grey areas? Pay attention to employment, securities, corporate, tax, &
    other laws governing regulated industries and business generally. Focus on compliance will increase with growth and as enemies emerge – but can become powerful barrier to entry.
  8. Obtain a proper IP assignment from all who touch the IP. Also consider IP protection
    strategy and options early. Implement IP protection options based on cost-benefit analysis, taking
    into account stage of venture, cash position, industry and relationship of IP to long-term success.
  9. Read and try to understand every document before signing it.
  10. Choose partners/investors/employees/advisors carefully. Date before you marry. Prevent
    disputes by discussing mutual expectations early and communicating often. Hire slow, but fire fast.
  11. Bulls, bears (and unicorns?) make money, but pigs get slaughtered. Be fair in dealings and
    build trusted relationships.
  12. Bond with your peers. Startup life is lonely – building peer support system is great way to plug
    in, build filters, find talent and ease stress. But networking incessantly is very distracting. Find the
    right balance of building relationships productively, while primarily focusing on building your startup.
  13. Always move forward! Inertia is not a startup’s friend. Time and indecisiveness are the enemy.
    Be a “heat seeking missile” – Josh Kopelman (@joshk).

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