The Entrepreneur Not all investors, bankers, and lawyers realize it, but the entrepreneur is the center of the entrepreneurial universe. Without entrepreneurs there would be no term sheets and no startup ecosystem. Throughout this book we use the terms entrepreneur and founder interchangeably. While some companies have only one founder, many have two, three, or even more. Sometimes these cofounders are equals; other times they aren’t. Regardless of the number, they each have a key role in the formation of the company and any financing that occurs. The founders can’t and shouldn’t outsource their involvement in a financing to their lawyers. There are many issues in a financing negotiation that only the entrepreneurs can resolve. Even if you hire a fantastic lawyer who knows everything, don’t forget that if your lawyer and your future investors don’t get along, you will have larger issues to deal with, since the way your represents themselves will directly reflect on you. If you are the entrepreneur, make sure you direct and control the process. The relationship between cofounders at the beginning of the life of a company is almost always good. If it’s not, the term sheet and corresponding financing are probably the least of the founders’ worries. However, as time passes, the relationship between cofounders often frays. This could be due to many different factors: the stress of the business, competence, personality, or even changing life priorities like a new spouse or children. When this happens, one or more founders will often leave the business. This can happen on good terms or not, and experienced investors know that it’s best to anticipate these kinds of issues up front and will try to structure terms that predefine how things will work in will work in these situations. The investors are often trying to protect the founders from each other by making sure things can be cleanly resolved without disrupting the company more than the departure of a founder already does. We cover this dynamic in terms like vesting, drag-along rights, and co-sale rights. When we do, we discuss both the investor perspective and the entrepreneur perspective. You’ll see throughout the book that we’ve walked in both the investor’s and the entrepreneur’s shoes, and we try hard to take a balanced approach to our commentary. We have witnessed a lot of bad behavior on both sides of the table and will try to be clear about these difficult issues.
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