I spent yesterday morning with about 30 other entrepreneurs, learning about some real-world legal, HR, and funding issues that startups typically face. The program was one of six that Technology Ventures Corporation (TVC) puts on in rotation. The program is free, and they even include a decent continental breakfast! Interestingly, TVC is funded by Lockheed Martin and the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. The event was hosted by SRI at their headquarters in Menlo Park, CA.
Ralph Kokka, a lawyer with Randick, O’Dea & Tooliatos, started us off with a presentation on the pros and cons of the various forms a business might take, such as LLC, S Corp, and C Corp. He hit the high and low points of each, with a focus on the concerns of startups looking for funding. There were many questions and he did an excellent job of answering them while keeping his presentation moving.
Sherry McVicar then walked us through the most important HR considerations for a startup. She pointed out common pitfalls such as mis-categorizing workers contractor vs. employee or exempt vs. non-exempt. She also explained what benefits are mandatory, and when these requirements kick in. For example:
- All companies must provide leave for jury duty.
- Companies with 5 or more employees must provide pregnancy leave.
- Companies with 50 or more employees must provide family and medical leave.
TVC‘s very own Ralph Patterson rounded out the day with a presentation entitled “13 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make.” The mistakes that he pointed out were all issues that would keep professional investors from funding a company. The mistakes included:
- Assuming too much debt
- Acquiring too many shareholders too early
- Pitching the product instead of the business
- Too many Powerpoint slides
- Not having a business plan
The event was interesting and informative, and I’ll be back to checkout the other 5 installments:
- Entering the Entrepreneurial World
- Market Research and the Marketing Plan
- Financial Management
- Preparing and Presenting the Business Plan
- Attracting Equity Investors and Lessons Learned
Big thanks to Juan Montermoso, who told me about this event.