The beautiful mountain landscapes of Boulder, Colorado are quickly becoming a haven for startups. Silicon Valley isn't the only place where up-and-coming tech companies are creating their headquarters. Many startup founders are brilliant programmers or engineers, but one of the most common mistakes that people make is ignoring the legal aspects of starting this kind of company.
You need an attorney, especially when your business starts to grow and take off. And not just any attorney -- you need a start up attorney who specializes in business development.
A great business lawyer can bring considerable value to your startup business, helping you draft corporate documents, create vesting arrangements for the founders, and protect your intellectual property from theft. An experienced attorney with small business expertise can also help you make valuable new connections with potential investors, leveraging their own network to help your business grow.
At Rogers & Moss, we have over 45 years of experience working with young and growing businesses. Long before the term "startup" came into common parlance as a term for lean, ambitious newly founded tech companies, we were already working with these kinds of businesses.
Small business attorney Bruce Rogers has helped many Colorado businesses with his legal expertise. We meet with each client individually to discuss the company's unique needs in depth, ensuring that you get the legal services you need. From deciding how to incorporate, to managing tax and employment law, we're with you every step of the way.
What Legal Issues Do Startups Need to Consider?
As a startup business, you'll face several types of legal issues and considerations. To adequately navigate these murky waters, you'll need the assistance of an experience startup business attorney. Some of the biggest legal issues we help our clients with on a daily basis include:
- Who gets what percentage of the company? It's essential for co-founders to arrange ownership in a way that's both fair and legally sound, and to handle this issue early in the life of the company.
- Is percentage ownership subject to vesting, contingent on continued participation? What happens if an owner leaves?
- What roles and responsibilities fall to the company's founders?
- If one of the company's founders leaves, can the remaining owners buy back their shares?
- How much time is each founder or owner expected to contribute to the company's ongoing development and growth?
- What kind of salaries will the owners be entitled to? Will this change over time?
- How are decisions made within the company? Is it determined by majority vote, by unanimous vote, or is it in the hands of the CEO alone?
- What has to happen for a person to be removed from the business?
- What happens when and if you decide to sell the company?
- What is your business's long-term vision, and how does this affect changes that might occur in the future?
If you own a startup in Boulder, Colorado, these are questions you'll need to answer. An experienced business lawyer can help you address them early in your company's history, preventing any problems from arising later on.
As you can see, the law is quite complicated, and that's why your Boulder business can benefit immensely from the services of an experienced startup lawyer.
Corporate Law: How Should You Incorporate?
Incorporating into the wrong type of company could pose a serious financial hazard for your company, leading to problems like double taxation that could easily drain your funds. The default option for companies is often an LLC, but for the tech startups we often work with, this may not necessarily always be the best option.
If you're interested in acquiring venture capital funding, you may want to consider converting your LLC or S Corp into a C Corp. Many startups reach this stage as they grow, and aren't always sure how to proceed. As experienced startup attorneys, we can help you make the best decisions from both, a legal and a financial standpoint.
That's just one example of how strategic structuring decisions can impact the future of your business. At Rogers & Moss, we help entrepreneurs make the right decisions, from initial formation onward, including:
- Initial choice of business entity designation
- Forming a business entity, whether it's an LLC, an S Corp, or a C Corp
- Capital structure evaluations
- Stock purchase agreements
- Shareholder agreements
- Shareholder meeting assistance and preparation
- Advice and assistance about government grants, loans, and equity financing for which your company might be eligible
- Assistance with managing joint ventures, split-ups, strategic alliances, and other important transactions between your company and another corporation
Intellectual Property Laws: Protecting Your Most Important Assets
Many startups revolve around things that could be considered your intellectual property, and that's something you need to protect at all costs. It provides a competitive advantage, and without the right protections, it could easily be lost to your competitors.
You can benefit immensely from the services of a Boulder County small business attorney who has a robust understanding of intellectual property law if your business has any of the following:
- A unique logo
- A website
- Inventions that you created
- Custom software
- Lists of customers
Chances are, you have some or even all of these things. At Rogers & Moss, we help companies like yours navigate the stormy waters of intellectual property law with the legal services you'll need, to protect your invention, including:
- Creating legally valid non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) for your employees and contractors to sign, ensuring that trade secrets stay within your company
- Trademark screening searches to assess the viability of your brand name and other trademarks early in the process, preventing unpleasant surprises down the road
- Trademark full availability searches, making sure your trademarks are fully available for registration and use in the United States
- Patent searches and patent applications
- Intellectual property assignment agreements, which assign intellectual property to a person or entity other than your business. This transfers ownership legally from one party to another, and this complex process generally requires an attorney.
Colorado state and US federal securities laws are broad in scope, and difficult for laypeople to fully understand due to their complexity and breadth. But violating these laws could bring severe consequences for your business. If securities offerings are not conducted in accordance with any and all applicable federal and Colorado laws, you could have personal liability.
Registering properly with the SEC is a time consuming process that presents many challenges for small, relatively young companies. It can also be quite costly. Many startup ventures choose instead to comply with exemptions from SEC requirements, but this, too, will make your head swim. These exemptions hinge on factors including your location, your financial means, and the relative sophistication of your company's investors.
State securities laws vary, but if you're based out of the Boulder and Lafayette area, you'll also need to comply with any relevant Colorado laws.
As small business attorneys specializing in working with startups, our job is to help you navigate the complexities of securities laws, ensuring that your company remains fully compliant and that you are not susceptible to potentially devastating personal liabilities. Our services pertinent to securities laws include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Identifying private offering exemptions for your company;
- Preparing private placement memorandums
- Preparing subscription agreements
- Preparing and filing exemption notices
- Assisting your company in the registration of public offerings
It's all too common for Boulder startup companies to ignore these issues until it's too late. At Rogers & Moss, our legal services for startups can help you navigate securities laws and keep your business in compliance.
Need a Startup Attorney? Call Us Today at Rogers & Moss
Looking for an experienced, knowledgeable small business attorney who has what it takes to help your company succeed? At Rogers & Moss, we can become a valuable partner for your business, helping you navigate the complexities of business law and overcome potential legal hurdles that could damage your business's future.
Contact us any time to get in touch with Bruce Rogers, our resident startup legal expert. We're always happy to help your business find success wherever it can, by providing world-class legal expertise from a seasoned business attorney with decades of small business experience.
You can call us at 303-641-0773, or fill out our online contact form to see how we can help.