Free financing tool to help startups get legal ball rolling

MILKEN/Leave it to a savvy law firm headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley to develop an online tool that actually generates draft financing term sheets for startups using the simplicity of a web-based questionnaire.

The so-called “Term Sheet Generator” comes courtesy of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a Palo Alto-based firm that’s played legal adviser to the likes of Apple and Sun Micro. It works with the responses and information provided by users to build fully formatted term sheet documents that can help entrepreneurs seeking outside capital get the ball rolling.

As Startup CFO blogger Mark Macleod astutely points out, the tool is no replacement for the advice of a skilled lawyer but can help cut costs when pondering early round funding. This is a sentiment shared by WSGR, which notes in the user terms and conditions that the service is “for general informational purposes only” and does “not constitute advertising, a solicitation or legal advice.”

The tool also offers up tutorials and annotations on terms for those who may be new to the world of financing, as well as market data that is worked into the standardized answer options of some of the more than 100 questions.

VC-blog altgate, which has a review of the generator and a sample term sheet, agrees that it’s a useful tool and reports that it’s but one of a slew of document generators WSGR plans to make publicly available on the web.

Not just a bunch of fresh faces

Small businessThe belief that most startups are run by young entrepreneurs pining to build Google-sized companies before the age of 30 seems fairly widespread these days. And while that’s not surprising given the wealth of entrepreneurial talent spawned by younger upstarts in recent times (particularly in the tech arena), it’s also something of a myth.

New figures seem to suggest that older people are leading the entrepreneurial charge as of late. In 2008, the number of new businesses created in the U.S. by individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 topped all other age brackets and made a sizeable leap from the previous year, a new survey by the Kauffman Foundation shows.

In the world of franchising, for instance, more late-blooming entrepreneurs are jumping into the mix after years of clocking hours in a corporate setting.

Learning from Rosetta Stone


After its blockbuster debut on the New York Stock Exchange, language software maker Rosetta Stone is poised to teach more than just new languages — it may also serve as a model for start-ups looking to go public in the midst of a recession.

In an interview with peHUB, Phil Clough of Rosetta Stone investor ABS Capital shared his thoughts on what made the company such a draw. The IPO earned ABS more than 6 times its initial investment.

What did Rosetta do right? For starters, it offered what ABS managing general partner Phil Clough calls “substance”.  Its online business business model was attractive, and its content and size gave it clout amid a crowded education sector.