International Startup Law
Born and raised in the UK, I was educated in the US, at UC Berkeley followed by Yale Law School, and have practiced law in Paris for 11 years, as well as in New York City and Silicon Valley. This is what enables me to understand where International Founders are going.
I have lived on both sides of the Atlantic, practiced startup law on both sides of the Atlantic, and done business on both sides of the Atlantic, for many years.
My first real startup client, the first startup which I helped through its initial teething, through major transactions in different countries, and finally through a rewarding exit (they were acquired by a major US multinational) was French, Immunotech SA in Marseille. Beginning in 1989, and on and off through 1995, Immunotech gave me a healthy taste for startups, and for helping their Founders succeed.
Helping startups here has taught me one thing. International Founders: come to Silicon Valley!!
You don’t need me to tell you that Silicon Valley is ground zero for the modern-day Founder and entrepreneur. The opportunity for Founders is simply greater here than in Europe, because the startup ecosystem here is like nowhere else on earth. Because of that, we here are in the privileged position of hosting and helping enterprising people with great ideas from all over the world.
My first two startup clients after returning to California from Paris in 1997 were French. Their VCs (also French) were financing the move of each startup’s center of gravity to Silicon Valley. That was almost 20 years ago now, and those pioneering International Founders and VCs were among the first wave to arrive on our shores. Go Michel Safars! Go Sina Fateh!
They have been followed by hundreds, thousands even, from all over Europe and Scandinavia.
First question: do you need to set up a company/corporation in the US?
If you seek venture capital or other professional investment here, the answer is “yes.” Investors generally prefer to invest close to their home base.
Second question: if you do set up a company/corporation here, what portion of your activities needs to be located here?
You don’t need to bring your whole business here: far from it. The Valley understands the cost savings inherent in keeping your R&D people, for example, in a country offering relatively cheaper skilled labor.
But if you want to raise money here, you need to relocate or set up here:
your CEO, the creative heart of your venture
probably your marketing team, because marketing is what the Valley does best, and
your Intellectual Property.
Your IP needs to be firmly in place in the entity that raises the money. Silicon Valley investors focus on your IP, and do not invest in shadows.
Of course, putting the Intellectual Property in the company here does not mean that you have lost it somehow, because you will remain owners of the US company, along with the investors that you find here.
Startup a la CarteTM legal services for International Founders
Startup a la CarteTM legal services were created with international founders in mind. I have seen too many of you confused by big law firms, whose offers of legal services are opaque and way too expensive.
I inform you up front what the various Startup a la CarteTM legal services comprise, and explain whether you need them in your startup. I give you a fixed price for each service, and all that I ask is that you pay it in advance.
Of all the founders who are making their way forward in Silicon Valley, International Founders have the clearest need for assistance in understanding what legal services they need in their particular situation. American law firms often exploit their ignorance of how things work here, with promises of big reductions or deferrals of fees. If those are big, think how much bigger the fees are!
Startup a la CarteTM legal services are affordable for International Founders, and easily understood. Check them out!
START UP A LA CARTE
Going the other way: Helping US Founders With Your Deals In Europe
I have advised on a wide range of acquisitions and joint ventures in Europe, including:
a US multinational acquiring major businesses based in France and corresponding market share
UK shareholders selling their French trading company to a Swedish conglomerate
French VC shareholders selling their French biotech company to a US multinational
a joint venture between a privatized Czech laboratory and a French biotech start-up
a worldwide joint venture between a French railroad equipment manufacturer and a Swedish manufacturer of complementary railroad equipmenta joint venture between a Silicon Valley chip manufacturer and a Swedish government R&D facility
The point of all that: having practiced law based in France for 11 years, I can relate how you do business in the EU with how we do business in Silicon Valley, and give you help and advice formed in both legal and business cultures.
That is a mouthful, agreed, but it does mean something valuable for you.