If you’re planning on launching a Software as a Service (SaaS) company – chances are you’ve already looked into how to incorporate in Delaware with a San Francisco/New York City address. You can use services like LegalZoom for this – but beware – while they make the process fast and easy – they’re better for small businesses, and do not have the insight into the appropriate documentation a startup needs.
After incorporating comes the easy part – developing your minimally viable product, iterating on it, showing it to investors, raising an angel round, making the real product, raising a seed round, hiring your first few employees, making the product better, growing your employee count, impressing investors with your first 5 big logos, raising a series A, growing to $10m+ annual revenue, raising a series B, growing to to the moons and eventually selling for $100’s of millions, or going public – making you and everyone that rode along with you rich. Simple, right?
Before you get there though, you should have several key agreements and policies in place – protecting your company, your intellectual property, your investors, and – of course- yourself. These are a few of the most important agreements and policies every SaaS company should have, broken down into 3 categories:
Company Level Agreements
- Shareholders Agreement – An in-depth agreement outlining the duties and abilities of shareholders of the company. This includes, but is not limited to, regulation of voting rights, control and management of the company, dispute resolution between shareholders, and outlines how shares can be sold or exchanged.
- Employment Agreement – An agreement between you, the employer, and your employees – outlining the terms of their employment, their duties, their promises, their rights as an employee, and your rights as an employer.
- Assignment of Intellectual Property – Also known as an “IP Transfer Agreement” – this agreement assures that intellectual property created by your employees, your contractors, or your freelancers belong to your company, and not to the employee, contractor, or freelancer – and guarantees they have no right to what they’ve created for your company.
- Non-Disclosure/Confidentiality Agreement – An agreement between your company and another party – whether an employee, contractor, vendor, or customer – that establishes confidential information you want to share with each other, but not with anyone else.
Customer Facing Agreements
- Service Level Agreement – An agreement between you and your customers promising a certain level of service delivered by your team as they use your product.
- Purchase/Sales Order Agreement – The agreement for the actual sale of your product to your customer, payment and billing terms, and warranties. There are usually several provisions in this agreement that point back to your Terms of Service.
Third Party Agreements
- Advisor Agreement – An agreement formalizing a relationship between your company and an advisor – including scope of their work, and compensation details.
- Contractor Agreement – An agreement formalizing a relationship between your company and a contractor/freelancer – including scope of their work, compensation details, and intellectual property assignment.
- Partner/Affiliate Agreement – An agreement between your company and any marketing partners/affiliates, highlighting the terms of your engagement, promises made by your partner/affiliate, and details around how compensation is exchanged.
Public Facing Policies
- Security Policy – Another increasingly important policy that highlights how your SaaS company approaches data security. This includes your policies around encryption, database backups, audit logging, disaster recovery, how you adhere to compliance standards (such as HIPAA and GDPR), and any third party security certifications your company has (such as SOC 2, ISO 27001, HITRUST, etc.)
- Trademark Policy – A policy stating under what circumstances anyone else is allowed to use your trademarks – including your name, logo, slogan, etc.
Let us Help
I’ve listed 14 contracts above, and this is not an exhaustive list. There may be more contracts and policies for your particular company and use case. You can find a bunch of templates online and spend hours upon hours editing them to your liking, hoping that whatever you wrote can legally protect you.
Or, you can engage with Kader Law to audit your current set of documentation and fill in the gaps, or allow us to build portfolio of SaaS agreements and policies specific to your startup.
We have over a decade of experience working in business development at SaaS companies, offering a completely unique point of view. Contact us today.
This post is not legal advice, and does not establish any attorney client privilege between Law Office of K.S. Kader, PLLC and you, the reader.