Running a startup can be a complicated, difficult process fraught with pitfalls and ample opportunities to make mistakes. But the logistics of setting up a startup should be simple, because over the long run, complicated equity setups and cap tables cost more money in legal fees and administration time.
The logistics of setting up a startup should be simple, because over the long run, complicated equity setups and cap tables cost more money in legal fees and administration time.
My company, Pulley, has helped more than a thousand founders build their cap table and equity structure.
Here’s a tactical guide to get your startup running in just four days.
Day 1: Incorporate
It is now standard to incorporate your company at the seed stage itself. In the U.S., startups incorporate as Delaware C Corporations with 10 million authorized shares. This is the standard setup when you use services like Stripe Atlas or Clerky.
Post incorporation, you need to answer a few questions on how to grant equity to founders and future employees.
First, you should determine how you want to split the equity between the founders. There is no standard for doing so — some founders split shares equally, while others do 49/51 splits for control. Some founders even may have an 80/20 equity split because one founder spent an extra year on the idea.
At the end of the day, a good equity split is one that all founders find fair. If you can’t agree on a structure, you should have a deeper discussion on whether this is the right team to work with for the next decade or more.