IndianaStartup.com is a site created by Brian Powers as a resource for start-ups, entrepreneurs and small business.  

Electronic Signatures

Clickwrap Agreements

 

Our Other SItes

Entries in Private Equity Attorney (6)

Wednesday
Jun232010

Indianapolis Attorney Brian Powers (that's me) Quoted in Article Regarding Equity Financing

Bank of America has a website called Small Business Online Community, the mission of which is to "create a thriving online community that empowers people in building a successful business."  A few weeks ago, a gentlemen called me, after reading some of my posts on IndianaStartup.com and interviewed me regarding the raising capital and potentially giving up control in the process.  The article, which you can find in its entirety here, is pretty good, and give some interesting perspectives (other than just mine). 

Here are some excerpts quoting yours truly:

Still, Indiana business attorney Brian Powers, who also runs the blog http://Indianastartup.com, points out that such a power-sharing arrangement can work-it just depends upon the individual circumstances of the parties involved. "Investor control is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you have a young business that will be gaining partners that have greater industry expertise and business connections than you do," he explains. But if a business owner can't take an emotionally detached look at his company's real long-term needs, he or she might be better served by bringing in a third party to help facilitate offers and find the best match. "That's what I often do," Powers explains. "I end up helping companies through the process of figuring out that what they're usually being offered is a pretty good tradeoff for the money." 

 

What helps Powers assess what is or isn't a pretty good tradeoff is the fact that he's been on the other side of the table. "In 1998, I was part of a dot-com startup company that raised $1 million in capital through an equity round," he explains. "Back then, though, we got ridiculous valuations and didn't have to give up control to get it. Those days are long gone now." For a short primer on these valuations and their role in determining equity investment, check out Powers' blog: http://indianastartup.com/business-funding/raising-venture-capital/raising-venture-capital-how-much-should-you-give-up/.

 

 

Tuesday
May182010

Affordable PPM Attorney / Private Placement Attorney Services? Why Not!

I hear from entrepreneurs all the time who are trying to raise capital - either for a business start-up or to expand an existing and established business.  Many usually dread picking up the phone to speak with an attorney about preparing a PPM - due to the notion that such an endeavor will cost them upwards of $20,000 - $40,000!  Sure, there are some transactions that could merit legal fees in that range and possibly above - especially when you consider that most law firms will prepare a PPM on an hourly basis (which is always an expensive and intimidating proposition for the business owner/client).  

I don't do it that way.  Entrepreneurs raising capital need to focus on successfully raising capital while also running a business (after all, the business doesn't just shut down while the founders and officers are out raising capital) - the last thing they need on their mind is the uncertainty of mounting PPM related legal fees that may actually lure them into avoiding legal counsel during portions of the capital raising process.   It is crucial that businesses raising private capital work with legal counsel throughout the entire private placement process to make sure they remain in compliance with federal and state securities laws.  

If you are looking for a securities attorney to help you with a PPM and advise you through the private placement, capital raising process, here are a few ways you can help make you fees more affordable / predictable:

 

  1. Have a good thorough business plan prepared - in writing.  This saves an attorney lots of time trying to learn about your business - which is crucial to the preparation of a good private placement memorandum.  A good portion of the business plan might also be used in the body of the PPM.
  2. Do some upfront research on securities laws so you know what questions to ask.  Your attorney most likely (and should) give you a thorough run down of the legal restrictions involved in raising private capital using a private placement / PPM, but doing a little reading up front will let the attorney know you are serious about your capital raising project and that you have some sophistication in the matter.
  3. Ask for a fixed fee.  If your attorney is like me, you won't need to since I almost always provide a fixed fee to prepare a PPM and provide certain other private placement legal services. 

 

Tuesday
Nov242009

Private Placement / PPM Attorney - Comparing 504, 505, and 506

When raising capital via the private placement process, a business will typically use one of three exemptions to the registration requirements under federal securities laws.  In this post, I briefly summarize and compare each of the exemptions.

Rule 504

One of the exemptions from the federal securities laws regarding the registration of offerings of securitiescomes in Rule 504Rule 504 provides an exemption for the offer and sale of up to $1MM of securities in a single twelve month period. In general, an issuer of securities may not advertise, market or otherwise publicly solicit the sale the securities. Purchasers must receive restricted securities, meaning that the securities may not be sold without either registration or an exemption. Unlike some other exemptions, Rule 504 allows for a private sale without any specific disclosure requirements, although care should be taken to provide sufficient information to investors to avoid violating the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws – as I mentioned in an earlier post – disclose, disclose disclose. Make sure there are no false statements, no misleading statements either, and no omissions that might make what you have disclosed misleading.

Rule 505

Another exemptions from the federal securities laws regarding the registration of offerings of securities comes in Rule 505.  Rule 505 allows a company to raise an aggregate amount of $5,000,000 over a twelve-month period.  Similar to Rule 504, Rule 505 does not permit an issuer to use general advertising or general solicitation to market its offering.  A Rule 505 offering is available to an unlimited number of accredited investors and up to 35 non-accredited investors.  Unlike a Rule 504 offering, nonaccredited investors must receive a substantive disclosure document that includes financial statements, although even if only accredited investors are involved, care must be taken such that the anti-fraud requirements are met and that there are no false statements, no misleading statements, and no omissions that might make what you have disclosed misleading.   Purchasers must receive restricted securities, meaning that the securities may not be sold without either registration or an exemption.

Rule 506

The final exemption I will discuss here comes in Rule 506.   Rule 506 contains no limit on the amount of capital that can be raised in an offering. Similar to other exemptions, an issuer using Rule 506 cannot use general advertising or general solicitation to market its offering.  Rule 506 is available to an unlimited number of accredited investors and up to 35 non-accredited investors.  Unlike Rule 505, all nonaccredited investors, either alone or via a purchaser representative, must be sophisticated, that is, they must have sufficient knowledge and experience in financial and business matters to make them capable of evaluating the merits and risks of the prospective investment.  Just as with Rule 505, nonaccredited investors must receive a substantive disclosure document that includes financial statements, although even if only accredited investors are involved, care must be taken such that the anti-fraud requirements are met and that there are no false statements, no misleading statements, and no omissions that might make what you have disclosed misleading.  Purchasers must receive restricted securities, meaning that the securities may not be sold without either registration or an exemption.

As always, make sure you get the advice of a securities attorney with private placement experience.  There are lots of complicated regulatory requirements to comply with, both on the state and federal level.  A private placement attorney can help you navigate the regulations and to draft your private placement memorandum.

Monday
Jun082009

Private Placement Attorney - Brief Overview of Rule 504

One of the exemptions from the federal securities laws regarding the registration of securities offerings comes in Rule 504. Rule 504 provides an exemption for the offer and sale of up to $1MM of securities in a single twelve month period. In general, an issuer may not use public solicitation or advertising to market the securities. Purchasers must receive restricted securities, meaning that the securities may not be sold without either registration or an applicable exemption. Unlike some other exemptions, Rule 504 allows for a private sale without any specific disclosure requirements, although care should be taken to provide sufficient information to investors to avoid violating the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws - as I mentioned in an earlier post - disclose, disclose disclose. Make sure there are not only no false statements, but no misleading statements either, and no omissions that might make what you have disclosed misleading.

As always, make sure you get the advice of a securities attorney with private placement experience.  There are lots of complicated regulatory requirements to comply with, both on the state and federal level.  A private placement attorney can help you navigate the regulations and to draft your private placement memorandum.

Friday
May292009

Private Placement Attorney - The Basics of Raising Capital with a PPM

If you are looking to raise capital for your business, a private offering of securities might be one avenue for you to consider. Selling securities, whether it be to friends and family, or to angel investors, is an excellent way to raise capital if you are prepared and do it the right way. But beware, as the sale of securities (i.e. stock, notes, LLC interests...etc) is a highly regulated area on both the state and federal level. The following is intended to provide a basic understanding of raising money through a private placement. You should retain the services of a private placement attorney to advise you through the entire private placement process.

The SEC created Regulation D, which sets forth certain rules for private offerings. By following these rules, an issuer (i.e. a company selling stock or other form of security to raise capital) generally may raise up to $5,000,000 without a public offering.

Generally, a private offering may have no more than 35 investors. On the federal level, though, certain high-net-worth investors defined as "accredited investors" may be excluded when calculating the number of investors. There must also be NO general solicitation for investors by the issuer - no advertising, no seminars. Just this weekend I came across someone soliciting the "private" sale of securities on Twitter - definitely not a good idea if you are trying to comply with the registration exemptions under Regulation D.

The federal securities laws for both public and private offerings are based on the premise that investors in securities are best protected by the disclosure of all relevant information regarding the securities and the issuer. The underlying guideline in this respect is Rule 10b-5, which requires the issuer to disclose to investors anything material that a reasonable investor would want to know prior to making a decision to invest. This is why PPMs are stocked to the brim full of material facts, disclaimers, and lots and lots of risk factors. Failure to properly include these and other items may subject the issuer to serious liability, including being forced to buy back the securities from the investor, as well as damages. If you want to avoid liability, overdisclose, do not hide anything, and do not mislead (among other things of course).

Keep in mind that there are also state "blue sky" laws to comply with - and they will need to be complied with in every state that a security is offered and/or sold.

Make sure to consult a private placement attorney  / securities law attorney before you raise capital for your business.

---

The Law Office of Brian V Powers can help your business raise capital and help draft a private placement memorandum (PPM). Contact us today.

Friday
May222009

Raising Venture Capital - What documents do you need?

Raising venture capital / private equity requires more than just pitching your idea and business plan to a group of people with money to invest - although your pitch is obviously a crucial component.  There are lots of documents that will be required, and those documents will usually require the careful scrutiny of a venture capital attorney.  Below is a short, but not inclusive, list of what you might expect:

  1. Venture Capital AttorneyVenture Capital Term Sheet - These are typically non-binding outlines of the terms of a venture capital deal.  Don't let the "non-binding" portion fool you, though.  Terms laid out in a term sheet serve as the basis for all future negotiations, and any attempt to deviate from those terms will not be met kindly during deal negotiations. 
  2. Stock Purchase Agreement - This is the definitive agreement setting forth the terms of the venture capital investment, such as the purchase price, the closing date, and the conditions surrounding the issuance of stock - which more likely than not will be preferred stock.   There will also be numerous representation and warranty provisions, among other provisions, that will need to be carefully crafted by a venture capital attorney.
  3. An Amendment to the Bylaws - Assuming the company is a corporation and that the VC is conditioning its investment on the receipt of preferred stock (which it likely will), the bylaws of the corporation will need to be amended.  This amendment will create a new class of preferred stock and will include anti-dilution provisions. dividend rights, liquidation rights and conversion rights.  Some states require a "Certificate of Designation" to accomplish this, rather than an amendment to the bylaws.
  4. Right of First Refusal / Voting Agreement - This agreement will grant the VC a right of first refusal to purchase any shares in the company that come available for sale.  It will also likely contain a number of restrictions on the transfer of common stock, as well as tag-along rights allowing the VC to participate in the sale of any common shares.  Finally, there will likely be a voting agreement requiring that the common shareholders elect the VC's nominee(s) to the company's board of directors.
  5. Consulting Agreement - Often times a VC will require payment of a monthly fee by the company in return for certain management services provided by the VC. 

These are just a few of the documents that a company might normally expect to see during the process of raising capital.  As always, you should consult an attorney with knowledge of the venture capital process.

Business lawyer Brian V Powers represents businesses raising venture capitalContact us today to discuss your needs.