A Founder’s First Key Decision Is The Business Name

Image via Startup Professionals

Image via Startup Professionals

First things first – your startup needs a name! This may seem a silly and frivolous task, but it may be the most important decision you make. The name of your business has a tremendous impact on how customers and investors view you, and in today’s small world, it’s a world-wide decision.

Please don’t send me any more business plans with TBD or NewCo in the title position. Right or wrong, the name you choose, or don’t choose, speaks volumes about your business savvy and understanding of the world you are about to enter. Here are some key things I look for in the name, with some expert help from Alex Frankel and others: Read more

Set Your Online Reputation Before Someone Else Does

Image via Flickr by krossbow

Image via Flickr by krossbow

These days, your online Internet reputation is your reputation. Of course, having no reputation is usually better than a bad one, but don’t wait for someone else to establish a good one for you. It’s time for every business and business person to proactively create a positive presence, before someone else puts you in a defensive mode that is hard to win.

The first step in the process is to claim your online identity. This is simple in concept, but requires real effort and can be time consuming, and even expensive, if someone gets there before you and tries to sell you the rights to your preferred business or personal domain name. See my Forbes article on “Get A Domain Name Without Bankrupting Your StartupRead more

How do US venture capital firms view an entrepreneur who decides to go for funding to the US with a business plan, and then will need a visa?

The disappointing fact is that this is a highly, highly unlikely scenario, for several reasons.

The most important is that venture capital firms simply do not fund business plans. They fund companies. There are several excellent explanations hereas to why this is the case, but the bottom line is that VCs are able to fund only one out of every 400 companies who approach them, and thus the bar is set very high for what is considered “fundable”. For US VC-level financing, this will typically mean a company that is fully operating, is based here in the US, has already secured a seed round investment, has a finished (or nearly finished) product, and is already generating revenues of some kind. Other reasons have to do with the fact that H1B visas (which is probably what you are talking about) are available only to foreign nationals who are already employed by an existing US company, and require documentation you are unlikely to have. Read more

Founder’s Stock Is Gold, If You Know The Rules

Image via Flickr by BullionVault

Image via Flickr by BullionVault

In reality, so-called “Founder’s” shares are simply common stock, issued at the time of startup incorporation, for a very low price, and normally allocated to the multiple initial players commensurate with their investment or role. But that’s only the beginning of the story.

These shares are allocated and committed, but not really issued and owned (vested) until later. Typically, vesting in startups occurs monthly over 4 years, starting with the first 25% of such shares vesting only after the employee has remained with the company for at least 12 months (one year “cliff”). Vesting always stops when an employee leaves the company. Read more