Startup 101: “Open Source” Start up Legal Documents

founder agrements

“The picture has nothing to do with this article” – but did it get your attention?

Legal docs don’t have to be a source of stress when you’re trying to set up a business. There’s plenty of other things to worry about, but  unfortunately,  you can’t afford to ignore it.

VC Cafe summarized some of the better ‘open source’ legal docs out there – it’s certainly not a replacement for a lawyer – but it will help you get a leg up to see the documents and understand them before you actually sign the dotted line. I will quote TechStars in this friendly warning: “Please feel free to use these documents, but please do so responsibly only after retaining your own legal counsel. Don’t use these documents blindly

Taylor Wessing – offers a suite of seed investment documents which are available on an open-source basis. These documents include term sheets, investment documents and explanatory notes. We hope that these documents will assist in highlighting key issues for entrepreneurs and generally in streamlining the seed investment process. Link:

TechStars – the Denver/NY based incubator in collaboration with Cooley, LLP, offers an equity financing structure and a debt one, drawing on its experience funding hundreds of startups. All docs are here:

Ycombinator – at least one YC founder that I know who graduated the program, used the exact same documents for his new startup, so there must be some value here. Prepared by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and are particularly good for raising angel rounds

Orrick– Orrick’s Start-Up Tool Kit is a comprehensive set of resources designed to aid start-ups and their founders on the journey from the “garage” to the global marketplace. This has the menu: and all the docs live here:
Marc Andreessen and Fenwick West – created “Series Seed” in 2010. A simple set of investment documents for early stage investment. “With minor manipulation, Series Seed enables multiple board structures without tortured and non-functioning agreements (a real problem for convertible debt documents); and Entrepreneurs get price certainty instead of the lower of two different prices as with capped debt” –

British Business Angels Association or BBAA – offers Investment and shareholders’ agreement and Articles of association specific for the UK. Find it all here:

SECA –  the represnetative body for Switzerland private equity has LP and VC documentation templates, including models:
Ask the VC – Brad Feld collated a bunch of doc sources in his blog post here:
Privacy Agreements – it’s hard to have a list like this without mentioning a startup. Italian startup iubenda offers a Privacy Policy generator that definitely beats the alternative of copying and pasting from your competitor!


Eze Vidra

Eze is managing partner of Remagine Ventures, a seed fund investing in ambitious founders at the intersection of tech, media, data and commerce. We are backed by some of the world's leading media companies. I'm a former general partner at google ventures, head of Google for Entrepreneurs in Europe and founding head of Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups. I'm also the founder of Techbikers, a non-profit bringing together the startup ecosystem on cycling challenges in support of Room to Read. Since inception in 2012 we've built 8 schools and 31 libraries in the developing world.

Comments are closed.