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One of the reasons I have this blog is to help others like me who might be starting a software company on their own (micro-ISV-ers?). So if you are like me and know nothing about legal matters and get a knot in your stomach at the thought of having to deal with NDAs, EULAs and LLC incorporating documents, the email below might help you.
It's what I wrote to a couple of lawyers that came recommended by some friends who had gone through this before. Somehow it was a bit painful to write (actually, the thought of writing it was the painful part, once I started it was actually not that hard). Anyways here it is:
Hello. My name is Giacomo Guilizzoni and I was referred to you by my friend #### ####.
I am starting a software company and I am looking for a lawyer to help me with the following:
- incorporating: I want to create a single-member LLC in California; it will have its own name and California address, but I will be managing it from Italy. I also expect to sell my software to customers in other states and countries.
- software EULAs: I suspect I need some boiler-plate license agreement here (I admit I never read one though I agreed to many!)
- any copyright/trademark issues I should be aware of
- anything else I should know to get started...what I do know is that there's very little that I know about the legal side of starting a company, hence this call for help.
I plan to be self-funded for the first year or two, and I am not looking to sell the company right away, so I won't need help with VCs and stuff, at least in the short term. Longer term, who knows.
Basically I'm small potatoes, but I do want to get incorporated pretty soon, so that I can get the company its own bank account and start accepting money for my software, which is about # months away from being ready.
I fully understand that a lawyer-client engagement is not a one-off service but more of a long-term relationship, and I am definitely comfortable with that. Now the question is: do you have the bandwidth for me?
I am looking for someone I could rely on when needed (hopefully not very frequently), someone who answers email promptly and is willing to do business over the phone (or Skype), since I'll be based in Italy starting in ###.
Also, another thing I don't know is if I can afford your services, since I have never done this before. I admit I don't even know a ballpark figure of what incorporating will cost me.
Anyways, looking forward to your reply. Let me know if you'd rather talk on the phone or meet in person, my schedule is pretty flexible.
Giacomo Guilizzoni (I go by Peldi)
The above worked well, as I got a response within 30 minutes, and met the lawyer within 3 days of that (that was last Tuesday). We are going ahead with the LLC work, which is going to cost around $1,500 (I know, I could do it myself, but like I said, I'd rather pay someone qualified to do it and spare myself the pain) and take 10 days or so. Love it.
Ok, hope this helps. I'll post some other of these emails (here's another), feel free to use them as templates if you need to (and let me know if they work out for you).
Peldi for the Balsamiq Team
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