Thursday, September 6, 2012

Startup School

I've been doing a lot of research this week because I'm working on starting up another company (I'll go into that some other time) somewhat related to Jawaya, and I needed a refresher.

I've come across some really great stuff, which I'd like to share with anyone in the formation or seed capital stage. Sometimes formation and capitalization happens at about the same time.

Term Sheets
For term sheets and an explanation of deal terms, there's nothing quite as comprehensive as Brad Feld's Term Sheet series he did with his partner Jason.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/50277123/Term-Sheet-Series-Brad-Feld

Marc Suster ranted today at Techcrunch about convertible notes vs straight equity in the seed round. It's definitely worth the read, though I don't buy all of it.

Make sure you check out the links he shares from other voices on the issues.

Startup Issues
Feld's blog is also great for a lot of startup issues, but he blogs about other things too so you'll have to use the categories on the lower right to get to the relevant stuff.
http://www.feld.com
http://www.startuprev.com is a new site Brad started.

I'd like to consider this blog a good source too, but since I started this waayyyy back there have been many great additions as well, especially the accelerators like Tech Stars. http://www.techstars.com 

Building The Startup, Business Model, Customers
For the lifecycle of an early stage startup and what you should be doing to build a real company, Steve Blank has many great posts, books, and now an online startup school.

Udacity: http://www.udacity.com/overview/Course/ep245/CourseRev/1

Steve's blog: http://www.steveblank.com

Managing, GrowingTwo blogs come to mind here; Ben Horowitz of a16z has some great posts about scaling businesses and being a CEO.

Scott Maxwell of OpenView Partners in Boston has blogged for a long time about growing startups, and has a lot of great insights around growth management. I've stil never met Scott, but we've had some good conversations over the years.

Scott's old blog full of good stuff: http://scottmaxwell.wordpress.com/ and you can find a link to his latest stuff from there.

Founder Agreements
For agreements between founders, there's not a lot of centralized info, but a lot of advice scattered about. I'd like to change that sometime, but not today. Here are some posts that might inform your thinking about your founders agreements.

The key here is you're developing some baseline agreements in good faith and agreeing do always act in the stakeholders' best interests, not just your own.

But you need to accommodate for the potential downsides like a co-founder going catatonic and not performing, or someone quitting before the race is over, etc and keeping all of their stock. It's all stuff you think might never happen because it's the early, exciting, blue-sky days, but if you don't have that in there you can put yourself, team, investors, and customers at risk because of internal dysfunction or skewed control.

Here are some links related to founder agreements.


I found a meager founder agreement here as well:
http://www.seedcamp.com/main/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Seedhack_Founder_Collaboration_Agreement.pdf

You should definitely create your own, keep it simple, and put the details in more specific company docs after the formation, and in some cases after you've raised capital.

That's it for today--there's a lot more I'll share as I encounter them in the startup phase if this gets off the ground. I'm guessing there are more resources out there at docstoc, or at The Founder's Institute, but I didn't come across them.

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