Articles Posted in Start-Ups & Financing

Venture capital financing can be an extremely important asset to startups that do not have access to other types of traditional business financing, such as bank loans or the public markets. There can be many benefits to venture capital financing for entrepreneurs, including the following:

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  • Venture capital involves equity capital, so it does not leave a startup with substantial debt from the start;
  • Venture capitalists often take greater risks on young and unestablished companies because they see the potential for extensive growth and, therefore, higher returns;

Many partnerships begin among friends or individuals with similar interests who have a business idea together. However, having a good business idea and being able to cooperate to actually run a successful partnership are two very different things. In many cases, you may realize that your partner is not pulling his or her own weight or is even bringing the business down through his or her actions, or lack thereof. In such situations, you may naturally wonder what you have to do to remove that partner from the partnership and continue running the company without them.

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Unfortunately, simply removing a partner and continuing with business as usual is often much harder than it seems. Your options should be closely evaluated depending on your specific circumstances.  Having the assistance from a San Jose partnership attorney will help your business establish a binding partnership agreement that will allow the business to run smoothly and efficiently even if a situation arises between partners.

Do You have a Partnership Agreement?

Entrepreneurs are faced with numerous decisions when forming a business. First, they need to contemplate the nature of the corporate entity they wish to operate (i.e., corporation, limited liability company, partnership, etc.). This decision hinges on many factors including the type of business, the desired ownership structure, tax considerations and potential financing opportunities. If the entrepreneur determines that forming a corporation is most advantageous for his or her particular situation, then he or she must next decide whether the corporation will be taxed as an S-corporation or a C-corporation.

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The “S” and “C” designations refer to different subchapters of the federal tax code. They each have their own governing requirements and qualifications, some of which are laid out below.

S-Corporations

Types of Crowdfunding for Investors

Like other types of investments, all crowdfunding campaigns are not created equal and one campaign can vary significantly from the next. There are two main types of crowdfunding investments on which we will focus here: reward-based crowdfunding and equity crowdfunding. However, it is important to realize that these are not the only types of crowdfunding available for investors in today’s market.  In addition, there are many guidelines, requirements and regulations differing for each type of crowdfunding.

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Reward-based Crowdfunding

A startup or entrepreneur looking to raise capital is willing to do almost anything to accept capital from an investor.  As a corporate and business law attorney, experience with more successful clients has led to some observations about what an entrepreneur might also want to look for or consider in an investor besides capital only.

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Consider the following observations when looking to attract investments.

Build Friends Not Just Investors

What is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding refers to entrepreneurs seeking relatively insignificant financial contributions from a large number of people, often via social media or other internet networks, to fund the start or growth of a business venture. According to one report, more than 600 crowdfunding sites exist and raised billions of dollars for various types of businesses in 2015 alone, worldwide.

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Types of Crowdfunding

The United States Department of Labor recently announced a new rule on white collar overtime exemption regulations. This new rule will affect an estimated 4.2 million white collar workers who will no longer be exempt from Fair Standards Labor Act guidelines and must be paid for overtime work. The new rule will go into effect on December 1, 2016. The employment lawyers at Structure Law Group, LLP are experienced in ensuring that their clients follow all federal and California employment rules and regulations.

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Previously, qualifying employees with an annual salary of more than $23,660 (or $455 per week) were generally exempt from the federal requirement that employees are entitled to overtime if they work over forty hours in one week. Under the new law, the minimum salary threshold for exemption has been raised to $47,476 annually, or $913 per week. This amount will be automatically revised every three years by a formula that takes into account wages across the country.

Corporate officers, partners in a partnership, and members of a limited liability company owe a fiduciary duty to the principal, i.e., the business entity, to act in the best interest of the organization. Failure to act in the principal’s best interest or actively competing against the principal to which a fiduciary duty is owed exposes the fiduciary, the agent of the principal, to civil liability. Care must be taken by the fiduciary not to compete against the organization to which they owe their duty of loyalty. The Silicon Valley Business Attorneys’s at Structure Law Group, LLP are highly experienced in preventing and resolving corporate disputes that may arise from a breach of fiduciary duty.

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The foundational tenet of agency law is the duty of loyalty owed by the agent, or fiduciary, to the principal or business entity. The duty of loyalty obligates the fiduciary to act in the best interests of the principal. The duty of loyalty extends to “all matters connected with the fiduciary relationship.”  Thus, the duty of loyalty prohibits fiduciaries from obtaining a benefit from others as a result of the fiduciary relationship. This prohibition extends to all dealings in which the fiduciary is involved on behalf of the principal. The duty to act with loyalty is not limited to financial matters.

The fiduciary’s duty of loyalty encompasses situations involving parties adverse to the principal. The fiduciary has an absolute duty not to act on behalf of a third party whose interests are adverse to those of the principal.  The fiduciary is duty-bound not to compete, either personally or on behalf of, another entity. The agent’s obligations last for the entire duration, and in some instances depending on contract language, last beyond the termination of the fiduciary’s relationship with the principal. However, agency law does provide for the fiduciary to plan and prepare to leave the principal, even to then compete with the principal.  Notwithstanding, the action taken by the fiduciary must not violate any other duty owed to the principal.

Public policy in California dictates that businesses should be free to compete against each other in the marketplace. Competition among businesses greatly benefits consumers. At the same time, competition engenders higher quality goods and higher service quality at price points advantageous to the consumer. Toward that end, California’s antitrust law, known as the “Cartwright Act,” prohibits a wide variety of conduct designed to restrain competition in the marketplace.

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The San Jose business lawyers at Structure Law Group, LLP dedicate their practice to helping business owners grow their company while insulating them from harm.  Unfair competition has a negative effect on consumers and businesses. Business entities should avoid structuring agreements which arguably cause unfair competition. Failure to do so could subject those businesses to lengthy and costly litigation and expose them to potential damages.

According to California business, trusts are unlawful and against public policy. California law defines a trust as a “combination of capital, skills, or acts by two or more persons” to:

The exchange of cash for payment for a goods or services is rare these days. We have certainly become a digital society. Business make advances daily to make transactions more efficient and convenient. However, businesses engaging in e-commerce must not compromise security for expediency. Additionally, businesses store infinite amounts of personal data about their customers. These businesses, such as health care providers and health insurance companies, not only must safeguard their electronic transactions but must also secure sensitive information and proactively combat data breaches. Failure to do so can lead to a huge economic loss for the customers and the company. The savvy business attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP advise businesses on the best practices to prevent data breaches and counsel them on the necessary steps to take if such an unfortunate event occurs.

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In California, people have a constitutional right to the safety and integrity of their personal information. California’s information security act defines personal information as any information that could identify or describe a person. Personal information is also an individual’s name, address, social security number, license number, medical information, and the like. A business in possession of such information must take reasonable steps to prevent disclosure of private information. California law obligates businesses to implement security measures reasonably designed to protect the integrity of the private information. Every business entity, from a sole proprietorship to a multi-national corporation is subject to the information security act.

California law broadly defines “data breach.” Data breach includes any “unauthorized acquisition of computerized data that compromises the security, confidentiality, or integrity of personal information maintained by the person or business.” The information may be used in good faith for the benefit of the person whose information is disclosed, provided that such disclosure is authorized.