Featured Network Partners: Microsoft BizSpark

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Featured Network Partner

Company: Orrick
Interviewee:
Web Site: www.orrick.com

Orrick’s Emerging Companies Group is a leading advisor to Startups, with more than 700 emerging company clients in the United States, Europe, and Asia. The group features lawyers in nine offices around the globe, including more than 100 lawyers in Orrick’s Silicon Valley office. As a premier legal advisor for emerging companies, and part of the global law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Orrick matches deep experience and commitment to high-growth businesses with a broad global platform that scales with clients as they grow. In total, Orrick has more than 1,100 lawyers in 21 offices worldwide. Here is our conversation with Chad Lynch, Director of Corporate Business Development at Orrick.

Q: Tell us a little about Orrick and your personal history working with Startups.

I really like the philosophy of the BizSpark program and truly appreciate how it matches Orrick's. I was an entrepreneur in the late '90s, running an ASP, which would be considered in the ‘cloud’ today. I had an experience with a law firm that has shaped the way I interact with Startups even to this day. I went to a large, well-known legal firm asking for a one-page service agreement to use when selling into Fortune 50 Real Estate Departments, and I got this eight-page document for something like $8,000 that I couldn't understand. A friend told me to go to another law firm — and my experience was completely different. They immediately starting asking tough questions, and wanted to see the demo and better understand the value proposition, and wanted to know what we were going to do, and where we wanted to take the company. They even provided names of investors, a potential advisor, and two potential customers, saying they would make the introductions for us. Then they asked, now what did you want again? I told them I wanted a one-page service agreement. So they gave me one, and charged me only $800. It was exactly what I wanted.

As an entrepreneur, that experience really made an impact on my thinking about the role of professional services. I’ve been in professional services for almost nine years now doing business development. But I've never forgotten the fact that if you are serving early stage companies you need to differentiate your firm from everybody else. After I shut down my company in 2000, I joined Deloitte in a business development role in their venture capital practice. I quickly realized that I needed a way to differentiate what I did. How does one add value? It's not like people are doing fist bumps when you bring in auditors. It's the same thing with attorneys. So I discovered that education and networking could add value. Out of that realization came a program at Deloitte called the Accelerator Program. I have utilized the same basic philosophy since then. I’ve been at Orrick now for almost three years focused on TOTAL ACCESS — a set of business education programs for Startups. We offer business, tactical, and legal education programs, because that's the best value we can add to the market. We help Startups build their sales team, raise money, run a board meeting, review a term sheet, and so much more.

Q: How does Orrick’s Emerging Companies Group work with Startups?

Orrick has a great combination of both a dedicated Emerging Companies Group that works with Startups and a global platform of more than 1,100 lawyers worldwide to help those companies as they grow. We focus on helping our clients as both a business partner and a legal advisor. A big part of this is helping them build the relationships that they need to succeed, whether that means providing introductions to venture capitalists, potential business development partners, investment banks, et al. The TOTAL ACCESS program really arose from this philosophy. Through Orrick's Emerging Companies Group, we have attorneys who moderate panel discussions aimed at Startups. Our goal is to extract good data from each one of the non-lawyer panelists. Our tagline is ‘today’s tools for tomorrow’s success’ — and our overall program is called TOTAL ACCESS. With Orrick's Emerging Companies Group, our focus is exclusively on emerging companies, mostly in the technology industries. We do this in China, England, France, and many other countries. While we have more than 100 lawyers in Silicon Valley, and other places in the U.S., it is also an international platform with strong presence in Asia as well as Europe — regions we see as growing markets. Our program dovetails very nicely with what Microsoft BizSpark is all about.

Q: What can you tell us about TOTAL ACCESS?

Orrick provides great value to the entrepreneur and investment community with our TOTAL ACCESS programs – nine of which are listed in the MicrosoftStartupZone.com/USA site in the resources section. When we first started Orrick's TOTAL ACCESS more than two years ago, we had roughly 80 attendees per event. Through word of mouth and recommendations, TOTAL ACCESS has grown close to 200 attendees per major panel event – even with our 7:15 a.m. start time – and we are still growing!

Other law firms have tried to develop programs to accomplish what we do, but oftentimes their approach involves featuring their own lawyers exclusively. While we know how important a legal education is for Startups and how deeply experienced Orrick lawyers are, the legal perspective is always just one part of the multitude of perspectives we like to bring to our TOTAL ACCESS Event Series – a unique and complimentary set of breakfast panels and lunch teaching sessions aimed at providing entrepreneurs business, tactical, and legal education to help them during their entrepreneurial journey.

Orrick's TOTAL ACCESS breakfast panels feature a broad range of topics – ‘Financing Alternatives,’ ‘Raising Money for Green Technology,’ ‘Cloud Computing,’ ‘China as an Innovation Partner,’ and ‘M&A and IPO Market Update.’ Speakers on our panels have included experienced VCs, bankers, industry executives, and Startup entrepreneurs. and angel investors. Our smaller, more focused lunch teaching sessions feature Orrick lawyers educating 10 to 15 CEOs and company executives each session on legal issues ranging from ‘Term Sheet Review’ and ‘Intellectual Property 101’ to ‘Technology Transactions’ and ‘Executive Compensation.’ One of our popular programs, ‘The Fundraising Series,’ involves experienced industry executives and venture capitalists teaching entrepreneurs how to prepare business plans, evaluate the market landscape, and build effective value propositions. We have helped many entrepreneurs gain better understanding of how to improve their stories and pitch more effectively to potential business partners, customers, and investors.

You can learn more about Orrick's TOTAL ACCESS Event Series, join our mailing list, and register for upcoming events at our Web site http://www.orrick.com/totalaccess.

Q: When did you first hear about BizSpark, and how were you recruited into the BizSpark program?

Microsoft made a great hire with Jacob Mullins, a former entrepreneur. He was an Orrick client before he joined Microsoft. Jacob, who is a Startup Development Manager for the BizSpark program, knew that Orrick’s focus and dedication to Startups truly complemented the BizSpark approach. I think BizSpark's program is awesome, particularly for early-stage entrepreneurs. And timing couldn't have been better. When Microsoft BizSpark launched a year ago, the market was going upside down, and Microsoft BizSpark's offer of otherwise costly software and resources has probably helped many Startups stay on their feet and continue on the journey to their potential success, even in the current challenging economic environment.

Q: What do your clients think about the BizSpark program?

Everybody I know who has been plugged into the BizSpark program really likes it. This program has raised the visibility of Microsoft in the early-stage Startup space. It’s phenomenal that Microsoft already has something like 20,000 Startups in the program from around the world.

Q: What key takeaway messages do you think are important to communicate to Startups?

From a law firm perspective, early-stage entrepreneurs need to understand that any law firm they hire should do more than their core competency, which is practice law. They need to educate entrepreneurs, and make introductions to service providers, and investors, and to programs like BizSpark. The legal requirements for early-stage companies for the most part are pretty basic. What makes a law firm valuable to entrepreneurs is what they do outside of that. Anyone who has ever been in the entrepreneurial world knows that you use everybody for everything. That's just the way it works. If your law firm doesn’t provide more, then it’s probably not a good fit and you’re most likely missing an opportunity to have some value added through your relationship with a law firm. From a business perspective, and assuming you have a great idea, companies fail because they don’t learn how to execute the business. Often, entrepreneurs can’t tell you why they should exist, why anybody cares, or the sort of problem they’re solving. Startups need to have a one-minute elevator pitch that explains who they are, the market they are in, and why they will win.

For more information, contact Chad Lynch at clynch@orrick.com or call 650-614-7354.