How do startups decide who sits on the board?

A company’s board of directors is technically elected by the company’s shareholders. So before a startup receives outside funding, the board is “elected” by—and usually consists of—the founders (although it may exist in name only.)

Once a company receives its initial seed, angel or venture funding, the documents prepared for the investment will include a Shareholders Agreement that gets signed by everyone. This agreement includes, among other things, specific procedures for determining who gets to pick the members of the board. Read more

10 Ways To Kill A Growing Business With Bad Hires

Image via Flickr by Hobvias Sudoneighm

Image via Flickr by Hobvias Sudoneighm

Every startup with any traction quickly reaches a point where they need to hire employees to grow the business. Unfortunately, this always happens when pressures are the highest, and business processes are ill-defined. At this point you need superstars and versatile future executives, yet your in-house hiring processes and focus are at their weakest.

The result is a host of hiring mistakes that sink many young companies, or take years to fix. The solution is to never forget that hiring is a top priority task for the CEO, which should never be delegated, and which often has to supersede the urgent crises of the day. Read more

Customer Engagement Is Key To Branding Yourself

The days are gone when a techie or a genius could build things in his garage and customers would find and buy the product, based purely on the “wow factor” of the technology. New technologies are everywhere today. People have seen so much that they are blasé, or actually fear pure technology. They want a personable brand, before they will consider the product.

They are overloaded by the media with amazing advertising messages, and people now realize that you can’t believe anything you see in pictures, and even videos can be edited to deliver any message. In fact, we are all media companies now, with our cell phones, computers, and professional-looking publishing tools. Read more

Who are the Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists with a focus on early-stage businesses started by minorities?

Although that’s probably not the right question to be asking (because the right investor is one who is investing in you as a businessperson, not you as a minorityperson), some firms and groups specializing in this sector are NMAN, the National Minority Angel Network (http://www.nmanetwork.com/), MAIN, the Minority Angel Investor Network (http://www.minorityangelinvestor…), and Jalia Ventures(http://www.jaliaventures.com/).

*original post can be found on Quora @ http://www.quora.com/David-S-Rose/answers *

How do angel investors typically deal with the legal agreements and similarly how would they help deal with legal issues for a startup they’ve invested in?

All investments by angels (and everyone else) in a company are made according to detailed legal documents that specify everything about the relationship among the various parties, the terms of the value exchange and the various rights and responsibilities of everyone involved. The paperwork can range from 5-10 pages for a pretty straightforward convertible note, up to 120 pages or more for a full Series A round.  Because these are legal documents, both parties (the company and the investor(s)) have their own lawyers, who work together to develop the actual agreements signed by the principals. Typically one lawyer will be responsible for the base drafting, with the other making comments, although in virtually all cases the documents are based on standard models that have been developed for use by anyone who wants to use them. Read more

Don’t Forget Grants If You Need Early Seed Money

In the US, many entrepreneurs see grants as “free money,” since they are not loans and don’t have to be repaid. A grant is not an equity investment, so the entrepreneur doesn’t have to give up a stake in the company either. Typically they can be used to fund product development and commercialization that would otherwise require outside investors.

A good place to start looking is the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is a lifeline for high-tech startups. A more general approach is to check out Grants.gov, which is a searchable directory of more than 1,000 federal grant programs. An advanced search tool is provided to search for a grant by eligibility, by issuing agency, or category. Read more