Lawyer supports startup founders during their journey


Focus on lawyer support to startups

Interview with a business lawyer: how to help startups from the first stage to fundraising

Let’s meet Chiara D’Antò, business Lawyer and angel investor

Interview with Chiara D’Antò, Lawyer, Business Angel, Co-Founder of the CDFR Law Firm, Member of Impact Hub Turin and of A4I Board of Directors, with two highly masters: A Master in Open Innovation & Intellectual Property at Luiss Business School and a Master Tech Law and digital transformation at 24ore Business School.

Hi Chiara, tell us about yourself and your passion for Law and for new technologies, where did it come from?

 I am a lawyer specialized in Tech & Digital Transformation (DLT). I am Co-Founder of the CDFR Law Firm and head of its Legal Research and Innovation sector. My focus on the legal technological issues of DLT and blockchain began in 2017, when the Research Service of the European Parliament published a report entitled “How blockchain technology can change our lives”. 

From there I tried to understand and study the topic and started attending training courses; I got the II level Master in Open Innovation & Intellectual Property from Luiss Business School of Rome and more recently the Master of Sole 24 ore Business School in Tech Law & Digital Transformation. I am constantly focused on enhancing my knowledge and offering mine and my team legal skills in Innovation to banks, insurance companies, companies, and startups. 

We would like to talk with you about legal advice to startups and ask you why a startup should consult a lawyer specialized in startups and not a generalist one. When a lawyer should be contacted? Before or after the company incorporation and why?

 I believe startups should turn to a specialized lawyer from the very beginning. The lawyer should match the innovative entrepreneurial spirit which defines startups, balancing quality, and dynamism. I usually advise my startup clients that to fit the energy and the desire for speed in undertaking their business path, my task is to run with them and keep up.

In my opinion, young entrepreneurs should take advantage of the specialized professional advice and make use of it even before the company incorporation, to set up their company properly, guaranteeing a subsequent coherent business development. Startups should, therefore, rely on a continuous, targeted, and detailed consulting so that they can positively accomplish their project and business design, and successfully enter the market. 

How can a lawyer support the incorporation of a startup, where does he/she intervene, in which areas?

 I try to be an active part of the project, a spokesperson, and a guarantor of the interests of new entrepreneurs and therefore my relationship with the founders is close. I try to attend all negotiation tables with third parties and potential investors, putting my professional expertise at the founders’ and, thus, their startups’ and their team’s disposal to identify, negotiate and establish relationships with partners, to attract investors and streamline the process for accessing loans and/or grants. 

And doing all that while protecting carefully the intellectual and/or industrial property rights, especially when sharing the startup business idea with outsiders.

Speaking of shareholders’ agreements, how do you support startups in drafting them?  What are the main matters to take care of?

 Regulating relationships among shareholders through shareholders’ agreements is essential. This tool, in fact, aims to give stability to governance with a better definition of shareholders rights and duties. Furthermore, the signing of shareholders’ agreements is also useful for the purpose of preventing any problems that could arise among the shareholders during the company life, avoiding, especially, dangerous situations of corporate deadlocks that could harm the business.

There are many matters to be regulated with the shareholders’ agreements. For example, my team and I focus our attention on shares sale and purchase, on shareholders’ exit or even on syndicates.

It is essential for a startup to be supported by a law firm during the fundraising process. How do you support the founder in this process, starting from the meeting with investors to the actual drafting of the investment contract?

 Yes, it is essential that startups are supported by a law firm, both before and during any fundraising. We do know that startups are subject to a strong commitment whenever they turn to outsiders to raise funds through financing rounds.

In fact, fundraising is important for the growth of a startup project to such an extent that failure may occur in its absence.

The need for fundraising walk with the startup from the very beginning, and I believe that it remains a constant in the company life, because, although in a different way, it is interlaced with it: first at the project birth, then at its development and then again when the company needs to expand. Clearly, startups need legal support at every stage, including, but not limited to, on drafting investment contracts.

If you are interested in Business Lawyer, please read also the interview with Daniele Costa Lawyer for startups: from education to consultancy ,the interview with Marco Corica Business lawyer helps companies and startups with his team and the interview with Fabio Azzolina Business lawyer on a legal design approach for startups

If you are interested in Business Angel Networks, please read more on: Business Angel Networks: the main ones in Italy