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Category: Legal

It’s a Trap! Nine Legal Quagmires for Entrepreneurs to Avoid

June 12, 2014 by Akira Hirai

Legal Traps and Mistakes

When JJ Abrams’ production company Bad Robot recently confirmed that filming for Star Wars Episode VII is officially underway, it got me thinking about the similarities between the wars fought in a galaxy far, far away, and the battles fought every day by the entrepreneurs in this solar system. Entrepreneurship, with all its risks and unknowns, can often feel like Luke Skywalker’s treacherous mission to destroy the Death Star in Star Wars IV. Experts continue to debate whether entrepreneurship can be taught, or whether it’s something more like the Force: [Read More]

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Hiring Independent Contractors: Know the Pitfalls

January 27, 2014 by Akira Hirai

Independent Contractor Outsourcing

Independent contractors and freelancers, or independent specialists, represent a rapidly expanding category of entrepreneurship. Contractors have specialized skills in a given field and work independently, selling their expertise by the hour rather than working as a traditional corporate employee. Traditional employees come with overhead: healthcare benefits, employment taxes, HR compliance, training, paid time off, and often much more. There’s nothing wrong with any of this as long as your employees are necessary for delivering your firm’s core competency. In other areas, however, it may make more sense to outsource specialized, [Read More]

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The Heart of Any E-2 Application

October 11, 2012 by Jimmy Lewin

visa application business plan

An experienced immigration attorney in Mesa, Arizona – where there is a great a deal of immigration activity, as you may imagine – contacted us to assist one of his clients with a business plan for an E-2 investor visa. He indicated that one of the requirements for an investor visa is a business plan. While we have a great deal of experience in writing business plans that are used for immigration purposes, the attorney was kind enough to share some of his thoughts on the importance of the business [Read More]

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Licensing Your Intellectual Property for Fun and Profit

September 28, 2012 by Jimmy Lewin

Licensing Your Intellectual Property

You have a brilliant new invention. Congratulations! But now what? In general, you have two choices: you can build a company, or you can license your concept to another company and you can earn ongoing licensing fees. Most inventions, by themselves, are too small to be the basis of a company. Furthermore, if you’re like most inventors, you probably don’t have the resources or skills needed to successfully build a company. Thus, licensing is a sensible option for many inventions. This article offers a brief and hopefully entertaining introduction to [Read More]

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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

September 4, 2012 by Jimmy Lewin

entrepreneurs need buy-sell agreements

A prospective client called recently and asked if we would do a valuation on a small, 8 year old business that has been profitable and provided a good living for its two owners almost since the beginning. It turns out that the owners are divided on how to run the company. The nature of their disagreement isn’t important. Fortunately, one of the owners has an interest in keeping the business and the other owner is willing to sell his share and move on to something else. The problem lies in [Read More]

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Crowdfunding Under the JOBS Act – Is It For You?

August 24, 2012 by Richard Hasenpflug

Crowdfunding Under the JOBS Act

Most of the hype around the recently enacted JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act) has focused on crowdfunding. But what is crowdfunding? Is it worth all the hype? Can it help you raise the funding you need to start or grow your business? The word “crowdfunding” is confusing because it has been applied to two very different types of fund raising. Until now, the term crowdfunding has applied to sites like Kickstarter, which allow companies to raise money through donations or by pre-selling the goods or services they eventually intend to [Read More]

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You Can Live and Work in the U.S.

May 25, 2012 by Jimmy Lewin

Live and Work in the US with Immigration Visa

If you are not a U.S. citizen you can legally live and work in the United States as long as you obtain one of the immigrant visas that are available to foreign nationals. Many of these visa programs are targeted at people with special work skills or for people who wish to invest in businesses that provide jobs in the U.S. Many engineers, scientists, and doctors apply for these types of visas. Many successful entrepreneurs who wish to try their hand at business, U.S. style, apply for what are often [Read More]

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The Software Patent Problem

October 3, 2011 by Marty Zwilling


I always advise software startups to file patents to protect their “secret sauce” from competitors, and to increase their valuation. The good news is that a patent can scare off or at least delay competitors, and as a “rule of thumb” every patent can add up to $1M to your startup valuation for investors, or for M&A exits (merger and acquisition). The bad news is that patent trolls can squeeze the lifeblood out of innocent and unsuspecting entrepreneurs, as exemplified by the current mess around Lodsys patent No. 7222078. This [Read More]

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Five Legal Traps Every Entrepreneur Should Avoid

July 25, 2011 by Marty Zwilling

Legal Traps

Although every startup is unique, there are certain common avoidable mistakes that can lead to legal complications which jeopardize the long-term success of the business. I’m not suggesting that every startup needs a lawyer, but you should definitely pay attention, and not be afraid to consult legal counsel if any of these raise qualms for you. Like other environments, most legal issues don’t result from fraud, but from ignorance on specific requirements, or simply never getting around to doing the things that common sense would tell you to do. Here [Read More]

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Only Novices Ask Investors to Sign NDAs

June 8, 2011 by Marty Zwilling

Only Novices Ask Investors to Sign NDAs

Entrepreneurs often get the advice from their lawyers and friends to always get a Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA or CDA) signed before disclosing anything about their new venture. Most investors and startup advisors I know hate them, and refuse to sign them. Who is right? Let me try to put this question in perspective. If you are totally risk-averse, then push to always get signed NDAs. You won’t last long as an entrepreneur in this category, since a startup is all about taking risks. On the other hand, if you intend [Read More]

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