Founding a company can be cumbersome. Founders and would be entrepreneurs are often trying to balance working for their new venture and completing the formalities of founding. Establishing a company and agreeing on a shareholders’ agreement can be a project of its own. It is often prudent to first test the waters to some extent prior to formally founding the company. However, some matters can (and often have) become problems when not agreed upon. So it would be fruitful to find a lighter way of agreeing early on between the founders on some key questions such as ownership, contributions and situations where someone leaves.
This is the rationale behind the Founders’ Agreement. It should be a lighter way of agreeing between the founders on the key questions when forming a startup.
Initiative by HH Partners
The Founders’ Agreement has been drafted by HH Partners, mainly by Martin von Willebrand, but many have participated in some way or another. See credits below. While the Founders’ Agreement has been released as version 1 (after being in beta), it will likely continue to evolve. Comments are very much welcome on Twitter with hashtag #fdaHH or alternatively by email to Martin. Anyone interested in participating in the development of the Founders’ Agreement, can also ask to be added on the info list.
The Founders’ Agreement (or FA for short) is licensed under the CC BY 4.0 license so that anyone can take the document and freely modify it. The only obligation is that the original creator (HH Partners) should be attributed in connection with any modified material. Also, we appreciate if you point to the location of the orginal at www.hhpartners.fi/fa.
- Version 1 (September 2015): FA-ver1_20150914_HH_draft
- Beta (November 2014): FA-beta1_20141118_HH_draft
- Maria Rehbinder for comments regarding taking trademark rights into account and Henrik Ingo for generic comments on Twitter (@hingo)
- For help in grasping the idea: @Osma, @triekki, @pyryis, @KristoOvaska, @metrify, @oniiranen, @aukia – all of whom contributed to a Twitter discussion on this subject. This and the background idea is documented in a blog post by Martin von Willebrand – Legal Key Questions between Founders.
- For commenting the initial version: Miika Erkkilä, Tapio Siilola and Henri Tanskanen, all part of our team at HH Partners!
Please bear in mind that the Founders’ Agreement is not legal advice. It is a generic document to illustrate the possibilities of a Founders’ Agreement in relation to a shareholders’ agreement. It may prove useful in some scenarios and it may prove not so useful in others. We suggest that anyone considering entering into this Founders’ Agreement would discuss with someone with expertise in setting up a business and company in a start-up environment.