Seedhack Founders Collaboration Agreement


Starting a new company requires inspiring early co-founders to join you in your efforts and then quickly establishing an environment of trust where everyone works hard and fairly shares the upside of any success.

To that end, we’re launching the Seedhack Founder’s Collaboration Agreement (download here in .DOC or in .PDF ) which is designed for a newly formed team to agree on what each founder’s shareholding should be as well as how to make sure that each founder puts a continued effort throughout the lifetime of the company in order to keep their equity stake.

The hope is that this document will not only help events like Seedhack, where collaboration amongst team members is key, but also any ‘back of a napkin at a cafeteria’ brainstormed startups where people put a lot of sweat equity in even before they think about forming a ‘formal’ company.

A big thank you to Tina Baker from Brown Rudnick for drafting the agreement.

Supporting Organizations:

Usage of the document:

Treat this doc as a starting point for discussion. Yes, feel free to use it as-is, as we believe it covers 80% of what you should consider, but feel free to modify it as you and your founding team need to. Also, the items in brackets [  ] are to either be filled in or amended as you see fit.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Seedhack Collaboration Founders Agreement by http://www.seedhack.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at www.seedhack.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.seedhack.com.

Both Seedcamp and Brown Rudnick LLP expressly disclaim any and all responsibility and/or liability for any loss or damage whatsoever arising out of or in connection with acts or matters done or omitted to be done in reliance upon any document, information or opinion contained on this website. The documents, information and opinions on this website have been prepared for general informational purposes only, may not reflect the most current market and legal developments and may not address all relevant business or legal issues; accordingly, such information is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete. Further, the documents, information and opinions on this website do not, nor are they intended to (a) constitute legal advice, (b) create an attorney-client relationship or (c) be advertising or a solicitation of any type. You should not rely upon any documents, information and opinions on this website for any purpose without seeking legal advice from licensed attorneys in the relevant jurisdiction as each situation is highly fact specific and requires a knowledge of relevant laws. Certain parts of this site link to external internet sites, and other external internet sites may link to this website. Neither Seedcamp nor Brown Rudnick LLPis responsible for the content of any external internet sites.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why is it seen as such a concrete must as you state “Starting a new company requires inspiring early co-founders to join you in your efforts”. 

    If you watch This Week in startups and Mixergy, (all of the Dragons on Dragons Den are solo founders) you will see countless examples of successful solo founders and the likes of Mark Suster offer a refreshingly different viewpoint (see co-founder mythology http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2011/05/09/the-co-founder-mythology/).   

    They both have pros and cons but its made out in the tech community that a co-founder is a must and almost makes it sound as though you have to have one, when they are no real rules in business.

    • Carlos Espinal says:

      Nothing is a must, and we know many great companies that have a single founder. This document was designed for teams of course, so it was catering to that. 
      Regarding the question of whether you need a technical co-founder, feel free to review this one post I wrote on the subject: http://thedrawingboard.me/2011/04/20/do-i-need-a-technical-founder-in-my-team-to-get-started/

  2. This is a very clean and sensible document. I’m not sure that it will suit vanilla vesting schedule though (four years with a one-year cliff). That vesting assumes that someone is joining the org with the intent to stay which is not the case in a hackfest type event. 

    I believe that PBWorks was spun up after a hackfest and provides a good backdrop for how vesting could work. Given that there is some initial magic that happens at the hack but that there is a long hard slog to build the company it might be sensible to use the 1+4 structure but supplement it with each “founder” pre-vesting 1% immediately on signing the document. 

    This means that any “founder” walking away after the event will see some upside from any entity but not enough to hamper the company should they subsequently part ways.

    • Carlos Espinal says:

      Peter, sounds like a good recommendation. 
      The doc is very much available for these kinds of modifications and your recommendation could very well be useful for many. Feel free to fork it, just add attribution to this one as we are using a creative commons license.

  3. This is a very clean and sensible document. I’m not sure that it will suit vanilla vesting schedule though (four years with a one-year cliff). That vesting assumes that someone is joining the org with the intent to stay which is not the case in a hackfest type event. 

    I believe that PBWorks was spun up after a hackfest and provides a good backdrop for how vesting could work. Given that there is some initial magic that happens at the hack but that there is a long hard slog to build the company it might be sensible to use the 1+4 structure but supplement it with each “founder” pre-vesting 1% immediately on signing the document. 

    This means that any “founder” walking away after the event will see some upside from any entity but not enough to hamper the company should they subsequently part ways.

  4. I think its a very interesting strategy this agreement allow you to work in a moreproductive and efficient… all the best!!!!

  5. Hi, Thanks for putting this agreement together. It refers to a vesting schedule. Does anyone have a good template we can use for our new venute?

  6. catherinalucy says:

    I looked it up. The first 5 options I was given had nothing to do with agreements between parties.

    http://www.samplecontracts.org/

  7. Hi, thanks for the sample agreement it not only helps Seed hack but also helps too many people .

    Agreement Templates

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Download the SeedHack document. [...]

  2. [...] You can download the documents now from the Seedcamp web site. [...]

  3. [...] founders changing their minds or negotiations taking a different turn before the legal docs. We’ve put up a document on our Seedhack site called the Founder’s Collaboration Agreemen…, which you can use if you don’t have something like this. I assume that for most of you this [...]

  4. [...] reason you need to agree on a vesting schedule as well as share in the company when you start up.http://www.seedcamp.com/2011/09/… has an example of such an agreement.Ask your co-founders to sign the agreement, and if they [...]

  5. [...] can. Offer small amounts of equity or options if you can’t. If you offer equity then pick up a standard template and make sure you use ‘vesting’ so that you’re not giving away everything to someone who will [...]

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