• filter:

Who is (or isn't) a "founder" legally?

  • Text Only
  • Search this Topic »
Voting History
rated:
Mods: Feel free to move this if you believe it is posted in the wrong place.  I figure that founding a company is a financially relevant topic...

I have the same question for 2 different scenarios:

1. I thought that I co-founded a company, but there is now some debate about who the original founders are and who came in at "ground level" but is not a founder.  Questions are: Who is a "founder" of a company?  Or how are "founders" legally defined?
2. I thought I co-founded an event, but there is now debate about who is a "founder" and who just helped (without being a "founder").  Questions are: Who is a "founder" of an annual event?  Or how are "founders" legally defined in that context?

I am asking in part because I am applying to graduate school and will want to be accurate on those applications.  I am also wondering which legal practice area this sort of question would fall under if I were to seek the advice of an attorney just to be safe?
 

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
And it's ticking away with his sanity

Ecuadorgr (Jun. 16, 2017 @ 4:48p) |

Are you Elon Musk?

Dus10 (Jun. 18, 2017 @ 10:40a) |

It's hard to believe such a calamity.

cleanbeat (Jun. 18, 2017 @ 11:35a) |

Staff Summary
Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

rated:
Founder is a 'Title' which means it can be granted and taken away.

rated:
If your name is on the business license or papers of organization then you are a founder. Past that I don't know.

Hows your roommate doin?

rated:
jerosen said:   If your name is on the business license or papers of organization then you are a founder. Past that I don't know.

Hows your roommate doin?

  
Anyone know how to track down those papers of organization?

Or about who is a "founder" of an event?

(Roommate's as crazy as ever, lol!...  will be moving soon... as soon as grad school application is finished, hopefully.)

rated:
Are you related to "TheThinker"?

rated:
ZenNUTS said:   Are you related to "TheThinker"?
  No.

rated:

Founders (90.54kB)
Disclaimer
It's not really a legal term.  Were you in the room when the discussions started?  If not, or if there is any doubt, then you probably aren't.  Who exactly is having these "debates" about whether you are a founder or not?



 

rated:
Practically speaking, if I called the business in question, or the current organizers of the event in question, and asked if you were really a founder, what would they tell me?

rated:
dcwilbur said:   It's not really a legal term.  Were you in the room when the discussions started?  If not, or if there is any doubt, then you probably aren't.  Who exactly is having these "debates" about whether you are a founder or not?



 

  I was in the room at the discussion table when we named the organization, did the 501c3 paperwork, etc.  The idea to start the organization came from someone else, but a group of us it up and running.

rated:
Gauss44 said:   
dcwilbur said:   It's not really a legal term.  Were you in the room when the discussions started?  If not, or if there is any doubt, then you probably aren't.  Who exactly is having these "debates" about whether you are a founder or not?



 

  I was in the room at the discussion table when we named the organization, did the 501c3 paperwork, etc.  The idea to start the organization came from someone else, but a group of us it up and running.

  

Was your name on that paperwork?

If so I think you have a legit claim as a founder that would be hard to deny.

If not then, it could be a matter of debate.

 

rated:
Gauss44 said:   
dcwilbur said:   It's not really a legal term.  Were you in the room when the discussions started?  If not, or if there is any doubt, then you probably aren't.  Who exactly is having these "debates" about whether you are a founder or not?



 

  I was in the room at the discussion table when we named the organization, did the 501c3 paperwork, etc.  The idea to start the organization came from someone else, but a group of us it up and running.

  So what exactly is the issue?  It's not like it's a million dollar company you want to make sure to get your fair stake in, it's a non-profit.  Are they trying to kick you out?  If so, your title really doesnt matter if enough people are on board with the move.  If you just want to be honest on your grad school application as to your participation in starting this organization, you can pretty much title your role as whatever you want, it's purely ceremonial anyways.

rated:
You can stake a claim to having "founded" this thread.

rated:
Glitch99 said:   
Gauss44 said:   
dcwilbur said:   It's not really a legal term.  Were you in the room when the discussions started?  If not, or if there is any doubt, then you probably aren't.  Who exactly is having these "debates" about whether you are a founder or not?



 

  I was in the room at the discussion table when we named the organization, did the 501c3 paperwork, etc.  The idea to start the organization came from someone else, but a group of us it up and running.

  So what exactly is the issue?  It's not like it's a million dollar company you want to make sure to get your fair stake in, it's a non-profit.  Are they trying to kick you out?  If so, your title really doesnt matter if enough people are on board with the move.  If you just want to be honest on your grad school application as to your participation in starting this organization, you can pretty much title your role as whatever you want, it's purely ceremonial anyways.

  
It's to be honest on my graduate school application.  It's possible that all information will be verified as well.  Looks like for the organization, my next step is to find the paperwork and see what it says.  For the event, I'm still puzzled.  I am still thinking that I may want to consult with an attorney to be safe, but I'm not sure what kind of any attorney I should look for?

rated:
Gauss44 said:    For the event, I'm still puzzled.  I am still thinking that I may want to consult with an attorney to be safe, but I'm not sure what kind of any attorney I should look for?
  You have waaaay too much time on your hand

rated:
Put whatever you want as the title, as long as whoever answers the phone call about it will back it up. Unless it's a big nonprofit with offices and a big budget, nobody is going to care anyway. If you're not reasonably certain you're one of the founders, then maybe you should describe your role differently. Maybe say founding member or volunteer.

Save your lawyer money for your next apartment deposit,

rated:
I just checked Form 1023-EZ and it says
List the names, titles, and mailing addresses of your officers, directors, and/or trustees. (If you have more than five, see instructions.)
Are you on this part of the form?
It lists your Title here as well but the title 'Founder' means nothing. It's just a title.

rated:
Here's a hierarchy of the levels of "founder" as well:

-Founder
-Co-founder
-Founding member
-Founding team

rated:
forbin4040 said:   I just checked Form 1023-EZ and it says
List the names, titles, and mailing addresses of your officers, directors, and/or trustees. (If you have more than five, see instructions.)
Are you on this part of the form?
It lists your Title here as well but the title 'Founder' means nothing. It's just a title.

  
I'm going to search the internet for how to look up that form.  There was a group of us filling out the paperwork and I didn't happen to be the one recording.  Additionally it was a while ago so I would rather see the paperwork than rely on memory.

I guess this does beg the question of what if I disagree with the paperwork.  In that case, going back to the definition of officer, director, and trustee, if they have definitions would come next.

rated:
Wouldn't it be very odd for a founding member of any organization not to know if his name was not listed on the legal documents required to start the organization?  I cannot ever remember listing someone who was not present and/or did not sign the forms. Also, just because you sit in on a discussion and help select a name does not make you a founder. There is typically work involved. 

My guess is that if you don't know if your name is on the paperwork, it isn't, and you are not a founder.  At best you were considered a consultant, and get no credit for the organization. 

rated:
snnistle said:   Wouldn't it be very odd for a founding member of any organization not to know if his name was not listed on the legal documents required to start the organization?  I cannot ever remember listing someone who was not present and/or did not sign the forms. Also, just because you sit in on a discussion and help select a name does not make you a founder. There is typically work involved. 

My guess is that if you don't know if your name is on the paperwork, it isn't, and you are not a founder.  At best you were considered a consultant, and get no credit for the organization. 

  
I put in hours upon hours of work, but it was just a bunch of teens and very young adults.  We were all very inexperienced.  One of the people in our group's dad was an attorney and suggested we make our project or club into a 501c3.  We created an organization together, but at the time, at least most of us were not well versed in what we were doing. 

rated:
Gauss44 said:   Mods: Feel free to move this if you believe it is posted in the wrong place.  I figure that founding a company is a financially relevant topic...

I have the same question for 2 different scenarios:

1. I thought that I co-founded a company, but there is now some debate about who the original founders are and who came in at "ground level" but is not a founder.  Questions are: Who is a "founder" of a company?  Or how are "founders" legally defined?
2. I thought I co-founded an event, but there is now debate about who is a "founder" and who just helped (without being a "founder").  Questions are: Who is a "founder" of an annual event?  Or how are "founders" legally defined in that context?

I am asking in part because I am applying to graduate school and will want to be accurate on those applications.  I am also wondering which legal practice area this sort of question would fall under if I were to seek the advice of an attorney just to be safe?

  For #1, if you own founder's shares, you are a founder.

rated:
Having your name as part of a legal document does not necessarily mean you are a "founder" or "co-founder." At the company I work for now, there is 1 "founder" and 3 "co-founders" 3 of whom were employees of an incubator and when the company spun off none of their names were on the founding document. The 4th guy (a co-founder) came on a few months after the company was formed.

I personally just went through this - I helped found a company with an inventor who, until the 11th hour refused to give me a co-founder title. I was on every founding legal document and in fact am "President" and "Secretary" per those filings.

In short, it's just a title that can be granted and taken away from you by the person or people who control the company (whoever effectively controls the board, or the board itself).

rated:
BostonOne said:   
Gauss44 said:   Mods: Feel free to move this if you believe it is posted in the wrong place.  I figure that founding a company is a financially relevant topic...

I have the same question for 2 different scenarios:

1. I thought that I co-founded a company, but there is now some debate about who the original founders are and who came in at "ground level" but is not a founder.  Questions are: Who is a "founder" of a company?  Or how are "founders" legally defined?
2. I thought I co-founded an event, but there is now debate about who is a "founder" and who just helped (without being a "founder").  Questions are: Who is a "founder" of an annual event?  Or how are "founders" legally defined in that context?

I am asking in part because I am applying to graduate school and will want to be accurate on those applications.  I am also wondering which legal practice area this sort of question would fall under if I were to seek the advice of an attorney just to be safe?

  For #1, if you own founder's shares, you are a founder.

  I don't think that's necessarily true. I have "founder shares" (aka Class E or Entrepreneur shares) and I had to negotiate a co-founder title with my founder who is the majority Class E holder. 

rated:
OP didn't mention this was a public company.

rated:
forbin4040 said:   OP didn't mention this was a public company.
  Private companies have shares also.

rated:
Gauss44 said:   
In that case, going back to the definition of officer, director, and trustee, if they have definitions would come next.

Or not. Those are ongoing positions, that literally anyone can hold.

If you are seriously considering consulting a lawyer over the accuracy of stating "founder" on a grad school application, it's becoming clear why you have all these housing issues too.

rated:
user1337 said:   
BostonOne said:   
Gauss44 said:   Mods: Feel free to move this if you believe it is posted in the wrong place.  I figure that founding a company is a financially relevant topic...

I have the same question for 2 different scenarios:

1. I thought that I co-founded a company, but there is now some debate about who the original founders are and who came in at "ground level" but is not a founder.  Questions are: Who is a "founder" of a company?  Or how are "founders" legally defined?
2. I thought I co-founded an event, but there is now debate about who is a "founder" and who just helped (without being a "founder").  Questions are: Who is a "founder" of an annual event?  Or how are "founders" legally defined in that context?

I am asking in part because I am applying to graduate school and will want to be accurate on those applications.  I am also wondering which legal practice area this sort of question would fall under if I were to seek the advice of an attorney just to be safe?

  For #1, if you own founder's shares, you are a founder.

  I don't think that's necessarily true. I have "founder shares" (aka Class E or Entrepreneur shares) and I had to negotiate a co-founder title with my founder who is the majority Class E holder. 

  
Now I think I may be misusing a word.  I was thinking that a "founder" was someone who created an organization, so once it has happened, then history is history.  

(I'm not a business student, which is probably obvious by this thread.)

rated:
taxmantoo said:   Practically speaking, if I called the business in question, or the current organizers of the event in question, and asked if you were really a founder, what would they tell me?
  Ask Mark Zuckerberg about the Winklevoss twins.

rated:
People care less about whether you had the concept then the impact you had. Consider rephasing to, helped incubate startup non-profit, and summarize your most relevant/important accomplishment. You should be conservative enough that people in the know will generally agree if inquiries are made. Better if it doesn't cause drama about how OP was a founder but never delivered on responsibilities.

I'd only add founder if it helps explains the time gap where you otherwise were incarcerated or in Tijuana enjoying professional services.

rated:
ThomasPaine said:   People care less about whether you had the concept then the impact you had. Consider rephasing to, helped incubate startup non-profit, and summarize your most relevant/important accomplishment. You should be conservative enough that people in the know will generally agree if inquiries are made. Better if it doesn't cause drama about how OP was a founder but never delivered on responsibilities.

I'd only add founder if it helps explains the time gap where you otherwise were incarcerated or in Tijuana enjoying professional services.

  Agree with this. I would claim early employee and list out the accomplishments. It is more valuable than a title to future employers. 

rated:
I am curious to know what exactly is the current status/stature of the company and annual event in question.

Are we talking say a Boston marathon type event or a local meeting of tattoo artists?

rated:
fwuser12 said:   I am curious to know what exactly is the current status/stature of the company and annual event in question.

Are we talking say a Boston marathon type event or a local meeting of tattoo artists?

  
A fairly prominent event.  Closer to Boston marathon.  Can't get much more specific without providing identifying information.  I've decided that I would like to consult an attorney about definitions, but I have no idea what practice area that would be?

rated:
Gauss44 said:   
user1337 said:   
BostonOne said:   
Gauss44 said:   Mods: Feel free to move this if you believe it is posted in the wrong place.  I figure that founding a company is a financially relevant topic...

I have the same question for 2 different scenarios:

1. I thought that I co-founded a company, but there is now some debate about who the original founders are and who came in at "ground level" but is not a founder.  Questions are: Who is a "founder" of a company?  Or how are "founders" legally defined?
2. I thought I co-founded an event, but there is now debate about who is a "founder" and who just helped (without being a "founder").  Questions are: Who is a "founder" of an annual event?  Or how are "founders" legally defined in that context?

I am asking in part because I am applying to graduate school and will want to be accurate on those applications.  I am also wondering which legal practice area this sort of question would fall under if I were to seek the advice of an attorney just to be safe?

  For #1, if you own founder's shares, you are a founder.

  I don't think that's necessarily true. I have "founder shares" (aka Class E or Entrepreneur shares) and I had to negotiate a co-founder title with my founder who is the majority Class E holder. 

  
Now I think I may be misusing a word.  I was thinking that a "founder" was someone who created an organization, so once it has happened, then history is history.  

(I'm not a business student, which is probably obvious by this thread.)

 You are right in what it means.  Where you are wrong is that "founder" is a vague concept, not some legally-defined title.  You are giving it far, far more weight than it's worth, and drawing lines where there are no lines.

Since when is a grad school going to dig into your precise involvement in some random organization listed on an application, anyways?  

rated:
Depending on the type of entity (LLC, Corp.) the formation docs (Articles of Organization, corporate bylaws) will define who owns shares in the company, voting rights, etc. The founders of the company would be listed as the original shareholders on the original formation docs. Any changes since that time are in the amendments to the docs.

rated:
On my first application for a real job, I put down a college work-study position. It was a sweet gig I'd held for a couple of years. I got the real job and the HR person made a point to tell me "Tom said hi". I had no idea who she meant. "Tom - your old boss? I called him to check your references. He sang your praises!"

Tom was another student a year behind me who I'd help get the cushy work-study job when I left. Apparently he went on and on about how really I had basically run the place, best they'd had in his 40 years on the job, they tried to hire me full time, etc. He had plenty of time to kill while 'working'. When the phone rang, the real boss was certainly nowhere Handy, so Tom figured out what was up and had some fun on my behalf.

The point is, it really doesn't matter what is legally correct, it matters what someone who does a little research will be told. If you have an adversarial relationship with the current contacts for these organizations, it doesn't matter if a lawsuit would grant you a title. Talk to them and tell them what you want to do and what it's for. If you can't do that, stick with a conservative claim that won't invite any dispute.

rated:
bobbybore said:   Depending on the type of entity (LLC, Corp.) the formation docs (Articles of Organization, corporate bylaws) will define who owns shares in the company, voting rights, etc. The founders of the company would be listed as the original shareholders on the original formation docs. Any changes since that time are in the amendments to the docs.
  It's a non-profit.  Ownership isn't relevant.  

OP, if you are so concerned about this, perhaps "charter member" would be more appropriate, and save you the cost and embarrassment of consulting a lawyer about using a vague term on a college application.

rated:
Gauss44 said:   
fwuser12 said:   I am curious to know what exactly is the current status/stature of the company and annual event in question.

Are we talking say a Boston marathon type event or a local meeting of tattoo artists?

  
A fairly prominent event.  Closer to Boston marathon.  Can't get much more specific without providing identifying information.  I've decided that I would like to consult an attorney about definitions, but I have no idea what practice area that would be?

  Ok, so this is a decent sized organization. That makes it much easier. If you want to view the Form 1023 talk to the Secretary or whoever is in charge of fundraising. It's a public document that some donors/grantors want to see so the fundraising director should know how to get a hold of it. If you want to look at the Articles talk to the Secretary. I don't know understand what the purpose of this is though. Our Form 1023 had several directors on it, but they were not all founders. The Articles of Incorporation only has the attorney's name on it. Form 1023 should have your name on it if you were on the board prior to it being approved by the IRS, but again, not sure why this is relevant.

This should be super easy - ask your ED/CEO/President if you can use that on your resume. If you're not working for the company but are on the board, just ask the chair. Or did you already do this and they said no?

rated:
Why don't you just ask the primary founder/person in charge. I'm going to put this on my grad application, should I put myself as a "co-founder" or what? Same for the event. If it's a lot of people, send a group e-mail. Explain that you want to make sure you the title is accurate is not over-representing.

rated:
First rule of founder's club - If you're not sure whether you are a founder or not, you're not a founder.

Skipping 3 Messages...
rated:
It's hard to believe such a calamity.

  • Quick Reply:  Have something quick to contribute? Just reply below and you're done! hide Quick Reply
     
    Click here for full-featured reply.


Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2017