Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

Cavete vendit

Posted: July 27, 2014 by Bill Cunningham in Legal, Money, Operations, Startup, Technology

bill-cunninghamCaveat emptor, which means “beware the buyer,” resonates with anyone who buys goods or services on the web. The credit card industry has created a safety net where we feel that providing our credit card information for web purchases is probably safer than giving a credit card to an unscrupulous waitress or bartender.

However, as a merchant that sells over the web, the words “Cavete vendit” should ring clear in your mind meaning “Seller beware.” Merchants carry a tremendous of risk in taking credit cards and you need to plan accordingly.

I experienced a frustrating run with a credit card scammer and learned how vulnerable merchants are in the process. The experience also showed us where the gaps were in our security and gave us pause as to why we hadn’t taken these measures in the first place.


What’s in a name?

Posted: December 14, 2013 by Vance VanDrake III in Legal, Marketing, Startup, Uncategorized

vancevandrakeWhat’s in a name?  Groups of related trademarks are often referred to as a “family.”  Businesses often treat their trademarks, their business names, and their product name or logos like their children.  A trademark indicates source (it tells purchasers where or from whom the product or service comes.) Trademarks represent the goodwill in a brand.  To be successful, you must protect your own brand with equal vigor and take precautions not to tangle with other brands that may be confusingly similar. 

Many early-stage companies with outstanding innovation, leadership, and funding fall apart because of a poor name selection process, or a misunderstanding of trademark law. This results in an expensive trademark battle or, in some cases, being forced to change a name.  Because trademark owners are so protective of trademarks, they spare no expense to eliminate all  potential threats.  These proceedings can be very expensive and disruptive to a business but are easily avoidable. (more…)

Roadmap to Startup Investment

Posted: September 15, 2013 by Avi Ram in Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Operations, Planning, Startup


There is more investment capital available for start-ups then there are fundable start-ups to invest in. The key word is “fundable.” In this case the word fundable means that there is a 50+% chance that the start-up business will meet their business plan milestones.


Today’s Sophisticated Investors Don’t Invest In:

  • Ideas
  • Technology
  • Business Plans
  • Hype
  • New paradigms

Today’s sophisticated investors do invest in a solution to a well-defined business problem that will generate revenue when executed by a highly motivated team of entrepreneurs possessing an “unfair advantage”.


How to Use a Crystal Ball

Posted: September 2, 2013 by Bill Cunningham in Legal, Money, Startup

Bill Cunningham Bio“I’m 100% positive that I can meet my sales forecast, I just can’t tell you when.”

–       VP of Sales at a Startup

Last year I wrote a column on “Leveraging the Power of the Press” in response to an entrepreneur getting more than their fair share of ink and airtime for something that he said. This could become an annual opportunity for teachable moments with the recent coverage of another startup that received a LOT of coverage for her public statements.

Without going into the specifics of this situation, the future revenue forecasts presented to the audiences and published in the media sounded out of this world. That’s what startups do – they create huge opportunities to make the world a better place.  I’d like you to consider the art and science of forecasting as it relates to your startup.


Lean Patents Power Start-ups

Posted: April 28, 2013 by Vance VanDrake III in Legal, Planning, Startup


Startups rarely think about intellectual property protection because they believe that comes after the product is complete. These startups should consider a “lean” patent model that mirrors the lean start-up model and shares the same benefits of flexibility, low initial cost, and optimization. This works well for large and small companies to begin protecting their big ideas/.

File a Provisional Patent Application  

Provisional patent applications are cheap to file.  Really cheap.  The filing fee for a small entity (less than 500 employees) is only $125.  Provisional patent applications have fewer filing requirements than a “regular” patent application.  In theory, you can file a Keynote/Powerpoint presentation as a provisional patent application.