The class, as always, started with updates from the fellows, followed by book recommendations. The first book was ’12 Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos’ by Jordan Peterson, a Canadian Psychology professor. The book originally evolved from Peterson answering online questions, one being ‘what are the most valuable things everyone should know?’. The second book was ‘Nudge’ by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, which draws on behavioural psychology and economics to provide some fascinating insights on how a change as simple as choosing a different default option on a form can have huge impacts to peoples’ lives.
Following the introductions, Imogen Francis (Associate at Shoosmiths) gave the first talk on commercial contracts, intellectual property and data. Imogen used several relatable real-world examples to talk the class through everything from trademarks and copyright, to domain names and NDAs. On top of the pre-submitted questions, the fellows kept the talk interactive and were able to relate Imogen’s topics back to their own start-ups, to gain insights around questions like ‘when in the start-up lifecycle should you file a patent?’
The second talk was on the basics of setting up a company. Steve Barnett (Partner at Shoosmiths) talked the fellows through how to form and structure a company, as well as the documentation and frameworks that are required to be in place. This topic was especially relevant for those fellows still in the ideation phase of their start-up.
Adeel Khan (Senior Finance Expert at Deloitte) gave the final talk around tax and account for start-ups. One of the key topics that Adeel covered was around the Enterprise Investment Schemes SEIS and EIS, which provide investors tax relief when investing in companies that fulfil a specific set of criteria. This generated a lot of interest from the fellows, especially around the eligibility criteria of the investment schemes and the process for applying.
Overall the class seemed to prove very useful, with fellows submitting questions ahead of the day as well as interacting with the speakers, ensuring no question went unanswered. The fact that all fellows are at completely different stages of their start-up journey, and the sheer size of the topics covered, meant it was difficult making every section of the evening relevant to all. However, I am very thankful to have had three very knowledgeable speakers able to cover the breadth of questions raised, and make it a very informative and enjoyable evening!