Kevin Spreng, IP Attorney at RKMC and innovation catalyst extraordinaire, started us off by having us go around and introduce ourselves. There was a great deal of diversity in the room; Everything from Bankers and Angel Investors, to students - Seasoned entrepreneurs to those considering taking the leap into the start-up world for the first time. We had one guy who drove all the way from Duluth to be there and a woman in the St. Thomas MBA program who hails from Brasilia, Brazil.
The reigns were then handed off to Mike Bromelkamp and Scott Hoyles from Olsen Thielen. We had a good discussion and got great insight into what investors are looking for when funding a business. The handout that Scott passed out was invaluable and I am sure nobody left theirs behind. I was very impressed with the knowledge and preparedness of Mike and Scott and now understand why they, and their firm, are so well respected in the business community.
The tax discussion was a little bit over my head, but that, coupled with the dialog regarding the differences in legal entities, off-shoring and the whole, LLC/Partnership/Sub-S/C-Corp conundrum, really showcased how important it is to have a good lawyer and a good accountant that has worked in this realm for a long time.
We also had an interesting discussion about intellectual property; the reasons for, and methods of, protecting IP. Kevin, Mike and Scott all shared anecdotes that highlighted how important it is to understand that if you can't afford to litigate against infringer's, it doesn't matter whether you think you have a defensible patent (or other protection mechanism) or not. Kevin said that his firm won't even take patent infringement cases on a contingency basis, unless there is likely a 9-figure settlement involved, because the cases are so complex and costs so much to litigate.
That left me thinking that it might be a waste of time for most people to even file a patent, because in my experience, most inventions will never be that valuable.
All-in-all, it was a great meeting, that really drove home some important points for entrepreneurs like me, who often don't want to think about legal minutiae and the ramifications of not getting professional help when setting up a business entity.
I should also mention that there were a couple of us that wanted to have a quick discussion after the meeting so we commandeered a smaller conference room, so we could chat. We were able to get online and have our meeting without anyone bugging us or kicking us out, which was way more than I could have expected.
Thanks Kevin Mike and Scott; Well done!