Week 5: Key Agreements

Ownership, Responsibility, Decision-Making, and Operating

The Founders Agreement is an early-stage startup constitution document that captures the conclusions of discussions had between the founders on how they will own and operate the startup. There are four key issues that are common to these agreements: Ownership, Responsibility, Decision-Making, and Operating. 

As your startup progresses, there will be other people who own part of the business, and who are not founders. At this stage, you will need a Shareholder's agreement, which is a much more detailed agreement covering a wide variety of issues such as respective shareholdings and classes of shares of each shareholder, dilution rights, vesting clauses and cliff periods, among others. 

Another important agreement is the Invention Assignment Agreement which ensures that any invention your employees or hired consultants create, belongs to your startup. 

Below are a few videos that introduce these important documents and describe some of the key concepts and terms they contain. 

What is important to include in a founder’s agreement? (Statrupedia)

Roles and responsibilities, equity, vesting considerations for the founder’s agreement

Startup Contracts Explained: 5 Risks You Take (The Rest of Us)

Shareholder agreements: Dilution, Board Seats, Tag Along Rights, Drag Along Rights, Option Pool

Startup Pitfalls: Invention Assignment Agreements (Orrick)

Everyone who contributes to a company (employee, consultant or intern) should sign an invention assignment.