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Emerging Companies

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Godfrey & Kahn advises entrepreneurs and their early stage companies on every stage of their growth.

Our advice is practical and given with our clients’ business objectives in mind. Responsiveness to our clients is a top priority. We take a long-term perspective and, when needed, take a flexible approach to how we structure our relationships with emerging companies. Focused on building lasting relationships, we want to work with emerging companies throughout their entire lifecycles, from formation to funding, strategic partnerships, commercialization, and ultimately through exit.

We recognize that there are numerous demands on limited capital and that some early stage companies may need some flexibility in their billing arrangements. Alternative and flexible fee arrangements are available to selected emerging company clients of Godfrey & Kahn. Those arrangements often require an initial commitment from the company and then involve a deferral of initial fees.

With a team-oriented approach, our early stage company clients have direct access to attorneys with backgrounds necessary to assist them in areas such as tax, intellectual property, employment law and venture capital. We assist emerging companies by:

  • Forming the business entity, and advising entrepreneurs’ on the issues and the choices regarding which is the appropriate entity for them
  • Assisting in the pursuit of Minority Business Enterprise, Woman-Owned Business, Qualified New Business Venture and similar certifications
  • Evaluating and refining business plans
  • Completing “friends and family” or “seed,” angel, and other early-stage financings
  • Negotiating and structuring venture capital financing rounds
  • Advising on applicable early stage tax credits available in Wisconsin and neighboring states
  • Structuring and negotiating relative rights among founders and investors
  • Protecting and licensing intellectual property and other key assets
  • Assisting with issues affecting employees and consultants, including preparing non-competition, confidentiality, assignment of business ideas and equity incentive agreements
  • Negotiating and preparing initial agreements with suppliers, customers and other key business partners
  • Developing commercial agreements such as terms and conditions for product sales
  • Navigating tax, securities, environmental, immigration and trade regulation issues confronted by the new business
  • At a client’s request, working closely with members of our Estate Planning Practice Area to provide estate and tax planning to its founders. The early stage of a new business is often the best time to address estate planning objectives, and we use the extensive knowledge of our experienced colleagues to help our clients preserve wealth and plan for their future.

Our attorneys’ depth of experience and contacts across a wide variety of industries enable us to advise early stage companies on issues specific to their businesses. We see ourselves a part of an emerging company’s advisory team. Our strong reputation as a leading business law firm enables us to introduce our clients to a vast network of business associates in various markets, including angel and venture capital investors, accountants and bankers.

The dynamic, growing startup communities in Madison, Milwaukee and across the Midwest are a testament to the strong work ethic and ingenuity of our region’s entrepreneurs. Many of our firm’s longest-standing clients were startup companies when they first began working with us, and we continue to work with many of them as mature, successful businesses. We are committed to helping entrepreneurs, emerging businesses and technology companies in Wisconsin, and our attorneys’ provide their time or pro bono services to many organizations that focus on their needs, such as the Wisconsin Technology Council, Startup Milwaukee and BizStarts Milwaukee, among others.

We look forward to working with the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Jessica Braeger

Braeger, Jessica L.

Special Counsel
Andrea Cataldo

Cataldo, Andrea F.

Jay Creagh

Creagh, Jay K.

Shane Delsman

Delsman, Shane

Jennifer Gregor

Gregor, Jennifer L.

Kristen Irgens

Irgens, Kristen A.

Nicholas Kees

Kees, Nicholas A.

Andrew Landsman

Landsman, Andrew C.

Special Counsel
John McDonald

McDonald, John R.

Tom O'Day

O'Day, Tom

Special Counsel
Jed Roher

Roher, Jed A.


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