Posts by Chambliss Startup Group

Top 10 Takeaways from “Little Town, Layered Ecosystem: A Case Study of Chattanooga”

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 in Update!

Our Chambliss Startup Group thrives on supporting entrepreneurs and not just with legal counsel. Our team believes in the entrepreneurial movement happening in Chattanooga, and we’re making a point to be a part of it, whether it’s by offering networking opportunities, developing a sense of community, or being a resource. But we’re not the only ones. There are a handful of solid supporters that have played a key role in this movement, and people are noticing. For example, this billion-dollar private, nonpartisan foundation recently put us on their map. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation recently released the report “Little Town, Layered Ecosystem: A Case Study of Chattanooga,” which details the entrepreneurial support system in our hometown. The Kauffman Foundation is based in Kansas City, Missouri. The report is just one part of the Kauffman Foundation Research Series on City, Metro, and Regional Entrepreneurship. Other cities featured include Kansas City, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. If you haven’t read the report, it’s definitely worth taking a look. For those of you crunched for time, here are our top 10 takeaways: TOP 10 TAKEAWAYS FROM “LITTLE TOWN, LAYERED ECOSYSTEM: A CASE STUDY OF CHATTANOOGA”   1. The Chattanooga entrepreneurial ecosystem has 3 layers: philanthropic foundations direct entrepreneurship support organizations organizations in the public sector, including Mayor Berke’s office 2. Gig – the big spark. The Gig – Chattanooga’s (first in the nation) one-gigabit fiber internet service provided by EPB – got things moving and shaking among city leaders, entrepreneurs, and support organizations.   “Now everybody says, ‘We have to stay first, we have to do something’…”   3. Two local foundations are major players in not just the entrepreneurial ecosystem, but also in Chattanooga’s general development: Lyndhurst Foundation and Benwood Foundation.   4. The 5 main entrepreneurial support organizations are: The CO.LAB Us! Chambliss Startup Group Lamp Post Group LAUNCH Launch Tennessee 5. Let’s not forget EPB.   “Since the launch of the Gig, EPB estimates that ninety-one companies have been founded in Chattanooga, with approximately $50 million in venture capital provided from six firms.”   6. Where’s the best place in the ecosystem? The Innovation District. Shout out to the Enterprise Center located in the Edney Building at the heart of the district.  7. Mayor Berke played a huge role in bringing the right people together.    He not only exercises “his support through his official powers,” but he is also one of the biggest “cheerleaders” for the entrepreneurial community.   8. It doesn’t hurt that Chattanooga is an “attractive and affordable place to live.” Entrepreneurs migrating to our town enjoy it! 9. Chattanooga is just one example of how local assets can be utilized for the “betterment of a city ecosystem.”   “There are untapped and perhaps unexpected sources of entrepreneurship in every place.”   10. If you’re still not getting the ecosystem concept, a picture’s worth a thousand words.   This is just a tiny snapshot of the report, and we encourage you to take a look. It’s inspiring to see all the different organizations, firms, entities, individuals, and believers involved in making our hometown entrepreneurial ecosystem work for the betterment of the...

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Chambliss Startup Group Sponsors “Will This Float” Pitch Event

Posted by on Dec 9, 2015 in Crowdfunding and Fund Raising

The Company Lab (CO.LAB), based in Chattanoooga, TN, will host “Will This Float?” at the Revelry Room on Thursday, December 10, 2015 from 6:00pm to 10:00 pm. “Will This Float?” is an annual business competition where startups and entrepreneurs have the chance to pitch their ideas to judges and the Chattanooga community for the chance to win cash prizes. The overall winner will take $1,000 home and a $500 voucher from Forum Sherpas. Two other finalists will receive $250 each. Our Chambliss Startup Group is pleased to offer 10 hours of free business services to the three winners. For more information about the event, please check out the Times Free Press and Nooga.com articles or visit the “Will This Float?” event page. Also, you can read about the overall winner Undaground here. *Purchase event tickets...

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FINALLY… SEC Finalizes Crowdfunding Rules

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Crowdfunding and Fund Raising

FINALLY… SEC Finalizes Crowdfunding Rules On October 30, 2015, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) adopted final rules which will allow companies to offer and sell equity and securities through a crowdfunding exemption in the Jumpstart Our Businesses Act (“JOBS Act”). These rules will likely become effective in May 2016. The crowdfunding exemption allows eligible companies to raise capital online by selling equity and other securities. Until these rules go into effect, investors need to have an annual income exceeding $200,000 or a net worth of least $1 million to invest in the equity or securities of companies. The Following Rules Apply to an Offering Company o May raise up to $1 million through the crowdfunding exemption in any 12-month period. o Companies engaging in crowdfunding offerings will be required to file certain information and disclosures with the SEC and provide such information and disclosures to investors. o Required information and disclosures include:         information about officers, directors and certain owners of the company;          a description of the company’s business and the intended use of proceeds to be realized from the offering;         information about the company’s financial condition;          the price of the offering, the target offering amount, and the deadline to reach the target offering amount;          o information about certain related-party transactions;          o audited or reviewed financial statements of the company; and          o the company’s recent tax returns. The Following Rules Apply to Crowdfunding Investors o If annual income and net worth is less than $100,000: may invest the greater of (i) $2,000, or (ii) 5% of the investor’s annual income or net worth in a single offering. o If annual income or net worth is equal to or greater than $100,000: may invest the greater of 10% of the investor’s annual income or net worth in a single offering. o The maximum amount of investment for any investor in any 12-month period is $100,000. Disqualified Companies o Certain companies are not eligible to participate under the crowdfunding exemption, including foreign companies, public companies that already report to the SEC, and companies with no specific business plan. Companies Must Use Registered Portals o Crowdfunding must take place exclusively online through an SEC-registered intermediary, either a broker-dealer or a funding portal. Transfer Restrictions Apply to Securities Purchased Via Crowdfunding o As a general matter, any security purchased through crowdfunding may not be resold for one year. o There are exceptions to this rule, however, including transfers (i) to family members, (ii) to accredited investors or (iii) at a SEC-registered public...

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Seven Tips for Crafting an Effective Arbitration Clause (Part 3 of 3)

Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Arbitration, Draft Your Contract

So you’ve decided that arbitration is preferable to traditional court litigation. It’s time to spell that out in your contract. That means crafting an effective clause that will maximize the advantages of arbitration (see Article 1) while minimizing the risks and disadvantages (see Article 2). Whether you are negotiating a complex deal with another sophisticated party, or creating terms and conditions applicable to all your customers, here are seven tips to craft an effective arbitration clause. Make it Mandatory: Make it clear that arbitration is not optional. Avoid language like “the parties may submit their dispute to arbitration.” Define the Scope: If you are like most parties, you want the arbitration clause to have the broadest scope possible. Use simple, uncluttered language like “any dispute related to this Agreement.” But if you think a certain matter should be excluded, be careful. A carve out can increase the likelihood that you may later find yourself fighting separate battles involving overlapping issues, which can then lead to inconsistent results. As a corollary, also consider whether you want a judge or the arbitrator to decide if a certain dispute is covered by the arbitration clause. Choose Your Organization And Rules: Effective arbitration clauses usually specify both the organization administering the arbitration and the procedural rules applicable to it. For example, JAMS and AAA are perhaps the two best known and widely used organizations. Both of those organizations offer a variety of procedural rules the parties can elect based upon their circumstances. For example, if you are likely to encounter small-dollar disputes with individual customers, you would be wise to explicitly reference one of the sets of streamlined rules intended for those situations. Otherwise, you might consider electing one of the many sets of rules applicable to certain industries, such as construction, telecommunications, or real estate. Location: If you anticipate that your dispute will require a live hearing before the arbitrator, clearly state where you want that hearing to be held. Arbitrator Selection and Fees: If not already determined by the rules you elect, make sure the arbitration clause addresses the following questions: (a) will there be one arbitrator or a panel of three? (b) how is the arbitrator selected? and (c) who is responsible for paying the arbitrator’s fees? Consider Express Time Limits: Specifying clear time limits for the arbitration can avoid unnecessary delays. For example, if you want to require a mandatory period of negotiation before either side can initiate arbitration, then limit that period to a certain number of days. You might also consider specifying certain time limits applicable to the arbitration itself so that the proceeding stays on course toward a speedy resolution. Class Arbitration Waiver: If your arbitration clause is part of a standard set of terms and conditions equally applicable to numerous transactions and parties, then you should heavily consider including a class arbitration waiver. Essentially, this language states that the other party (typically an individual consumer) waives any right to pursue arbitration involving any class action claim. Similarly, this language should also state that the arbitrator has no authority to conduct any type of class or other collective proceeding. Why is a class waiver important? Because for all its benefits, arbitration is often not the best forum to handle the complex mechanisms and issues of a class action. In addition, class actions typically expose the defendant to enormous financial and reputational risk. When the stakes are that high, courts tend to be the best forums to resolve a dispute. Unlike arbitration, courts usually offer enhanced procedural safeguards, as well as a far more robust appeals process...

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Are You Sure You Want an Arbitration Clause? (Part 2 of 3)

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015 in Arbitration, Draft Your Contract

Many business people, and even some lawyers, take it as an article of faith that any contract is improved by including an arbitration clause. If you ask them why they think a contract should contain an arbitration clause, you will probably hear something like: “because arbitration is quicker and cheaper than going to court!” Is this true? Yes, it can be. Is it always true? No, not by a long shot. Many people assume that simply including an arbitration clause—any arbitration clause—in their contract means that they will automatically gain the main perceived benefits of arbitration: quicker and cheaper dispute resolution. To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, this is yet another assumption that has outlived its uselessness. In fact, a poorly drafted arbitration clause can have the opposite effect. Bad arbitration clauses tend to inflict extraordinary delay and expense because such clauses often result in prolonged litigation over what the clause itself means. For example, if the arbitration clause says nothing about class arbitration, is class arbitration permissible or not? Similarly, who resolves a dispute over whether or not a certain claim is covered by the arbitration clause: a judge or the arbitrator? These pesky questions are not minor skirmishes. They are threshold battles whose outcomes will define the entire course of the arbitration proceeding to follow. Depending on the circumstances, these preliminary issues can prolong a dispute for months. When the stakes are high enough, we have even seen these issues stretch out disputes for years while the parties churn through a morass of dueling proceedings and appeals. All the while, litigation expenses continue mounting while the underlying merits of the dispute remain virtually untouched. Even properly drafted arbitration provisions can present enormous danger. If an arbitrator rules against you, it will be very, very hard to overturn his ruling. Why? Because unlike a decision from a judge or jury, an arbitrator’s ruling cannot be overturned on appeal except for a few narrow, specific reasons, such as if the proceeding was rigged by fraud, arbitrator bias, or the like. And in some jurisdictions, an appellate court cannot overturn an arbitrator even if the arbitrator blatantly disregards the law. This is the risk you take when you bargain for the benefits of expedited, private litigation. So how can you minimize the likelihood of either unintended litigation or a bad ruling with no way out? First, drop the assumption that arbitration is a guaranteed time and money saver. It would be great if that were always true, but it’s not. Arbitration can achieve those goals, but not always. Instead, consider the pros and cons of arbitration [hyperlink Art. 1] and invest some time considering how those apply to your specific circumstances. All things considered, if arbitration does not look like a net gain for you, then do not insist on it. Leave it to the courts to settle any disputes. Sure, they may not be perfect, but they are pretty good at it overall. On the other hand, if you decide that arbitration is a compelling alternative to traditional litigation, then by all means include an arbitration clause in your document. However, do not rely on a generic form or some unconsidered boilerplate. Resolve to craft an arbitration clause that will establish a coherent and informed framework for resolving disputes. Calibrate that framework to your specific business needs and risks. We’ll take on this task in the third part of this series and offer some creative and practical drafting tips to achieve that...

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