CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Grillo's Pickles

If you haven't been to the Grillo's Pickles website, you should. There, you'll find the fantastic story of how this company began. We've copied part of it here to save you a click.

Grillo's Pickles began with a pickle cart, just a small wooden stand in downtown Boston, where Travis Grillo and his friends would sell two spears for one dollar. Travis would make the pickles by night using his family's 100-year old recipe - one he'd memorized from making pickles every summer as a kid. In the morning, Travis would bike to the Boston Common and set up the cart with his buddies. They'd hang out all day, urging people to try the simple Grillo family pickle. It was a small business but Travis worked hard for it. He made more pickles, biked more miles, and slept less hours than he ever had before.
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CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Factory Five Racing

Factory Five Racing was founded in 1995. Over the years they have grown from a start-up business in a small garage to become the world's largest manufacturer of "build-it-yourself" component car kits. They employ a full-time crew of about 40 people, and are located in Wareham, Massachusetts (about an hour south of Boston). They make their products right here in the USA, in the heart of New England where American manufacturing was born.
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Fred and Danny Magnanimi grew up watching their father create beautiful, handcrafted jewelry in the family's Cranston, RI jewelry manufacturing business. When the boys grew up, Fred moved to New York and began working on Wall Street as an investment banker, while younger brother Danny, still enamored by the family business, stayed home. Increased competition from overseas businesses created significant challenges for the business, but Danny was confident he could find a way for the family business to evolve and thrive. This was his mission, this was his passion.
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        Don't give away equity

        One of the first pieces of advice I offer my clients is to resist giving away equity in their company. Oftentimes, however, clients have already granted or promised shares of stock in their corporation (or membership interests in their LLC) to an early benefactor who provided something of value to the company, an employee who helped build early iterations of the company's product or service, a business adviser or member of the board of directors.

        A large percentage of these startups, early-stage and even growing midstage companies, believe that equity is a cheap and easy alternative to the cash they often lack. However, using equity in this way can be a grave mistake if not done carefully. Unfortunately, founders often fail to pay particular attention to an individual's personality and consider the consequences of having that person in their enterprise as a shareholder with associated rights. Without attaching specific rights and restrictions to equity grants, it is nearly impossible to claw that equity back once it has been issued. Consequently, the company can only hope that without the express right to remove them as a shareholder, it has not bound itself to someone who causes more harm than good.

        HBO's Emmy-nominated comedy series Silicon Valley provides an excellent visual context for the potential pitfalls of indiscriminately giving away pieces of your company.

        One character, Erlich Bachman, stands out as the singular embodiment of why it is important to know a person's character, strengths and weaknesses before giving him or her equity. Erlich's character flaws and shortcomings, and the aftermath of his actions provide a comical, yet not entirely exaggerated, pictorial of the consequences of compensating individuals with equity.

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