Getting In The Game Puts Your Start Up Investment on the Board

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Getting In The GameLeave it to a lawyer to put together a splendid finance book.

A while back, I lamented about the dearth of good finance books aimed at small businesses and entrepreneurs.  So while I have not had counsel correct my statement, a counselor has “objected” nonetheless.

Matt Crowley, a corporate lawyer veteran with a Los Angeles practice that specializes in entrepreneurship, added to the start up universe with an excellent book, Getting In The Game: Guiding Your Startup Through The World of Venture Capital and Angel Investors.  The publisher sent a review copy, and I am pleased with how it untangles the complicated world of business finance.

Making A Venture a Rewarding Adventure

The book is similar to a recent VC book I reviewed, David Gladstone’s Venture Capital Investing, but with a twist.  Crowley’s background, having served as a senior manager for a software development start up, provides legal perspective compared to the questions outlined in Gladstone’s book.  A great mention towards the end of the book explains why venture capitalists do not sign NDAs:

“During any given year a VC that invests in social networking companies will probably see several dozen business plans describing social networking ideas…If the VC agreed to assign NDAs with all of them, the VC would be liable to get sued by the ones that didn’t get funded, with claims that the VC shared startup 30 brilliant idea with start up 6, which the VC eventually will invest in. VCs would be straight jacketed… “

Crowley also offers solid advice on, well, seeking legal advice:

“Entrepreneurs frequently tell each other stories about the lawyer who billed every phone call and charged for emails. Make it clear in the engagement letter how phone calls and emails will be handled.  A good lawyer won’t charge for a two-minute phone call…but you need to give some assurance you won’t be making two-minute phone calls ten times a day. “

I liked the comment on research that followed the aforementioned quote.  And I liked his honest approach. Crowley mentions the word “shark” in Picking The Right Shark, but the advice will not read like a shark teaching you how to be in shark-invested waters.

Beyond Stellar Legal Eagle Advise

Not every chapter is influenced by legal perspective, but just like the NDA example Crowley references his industry experience with aplomb.  Chapter 2 notes about the value of budget.  Chapter 7 notes when money should be raised and when it is too late.

A few points outside of business structure will need refinement by your objectives.  For example, I did not fully agree with the launching a website template – do a cursory Google search of template debates from web designers and developers and you’ll get how contentious that topic can be.

But I’m being nit-picky. Crowley efficiently gets to useful points for essential business aspects outside his experience scope.  He simply does not want you to overvalue or undervalue aspects in your start up.  As an example, here’s what he goes on to note from website development:

“The key points to note here are ownership, cost overruns, timing, and misuse of other people’s content….understand that cheap and fast doesn’t always equal quality and efficiency…”

Like the writing of Navigating Social Media Legal Risks, the tone is straight-forward language that can aid that two person app developer looking to attract investment as well as the service business that is looking to add board members.  The explanations on what goes into a board, cautions about securities fraud, and the value of trademarks are worth standing in the bookstore, staying longer in the library, or staring at the Kindle just a little longer.

But above all, get this book. Getting In The Game is a great compliment to books like Locavesting.   You will feel better prepared for the challenges that come from creating boards, selecting partners, and anticipating the responses venture capitalists will offer.

Getting In The Game will make you an entrepreneurial winner.

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Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.