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5 Common Startup Mistakes

December 27, 2016

Intellectual Property is usually low on the list of priorities for startups. But founders shouldn’t be so fast to write off the importance of IP, as it can prove to be an essential building block for growth, investment, and even acquisition. If you take a look at many innovative and successful start ups you will most likely find that they started patenting early, and have a strong hold on their IP portfolio.

Here are 5 of the most common misconceptions we hear from startup founders when discussing intellectual property:

 1) “My startup has nothing worth protecting”

When a founder makes this statement, it is extremely hard to convince them otherwise. But what most startup founders don’t realise is that intellectual property is not just limited to patents.

Your company name, product names and logos can be protected by trademarks. There are also lots of forms of unregistered IP, including copyright (which may apply to company brochures, website content and other literature), licensing and partnership agreements, and database rights associated with your company data, as well as any trade secrets or know-how you have developed. Intellectual property in should be recorded and founders need to have a plan in place to ensure all forms of IP are appropriately protected. 

2) “All I care about right now is getting funding”

In order to secure funding, investors will conduct extensive due diligence, including looking at your startup’s intellectual property. Investors are much more likely to consider your startup is suitable for investment if you have an intellectual property strategy in place. 

The thing to bear in mind is that it is not only about protecting at this stage, it is about differentiating your company from every other startup seeking funding. Owning the right IP proves that a company is innovative and is able to differentiate itself from competitors.

On the other hand, a company that has a number of disjointed, unrelated patents may cause alarm bells to ring and provoke further investigation. It’s good, therefore, to have the IP house in order, especially if the goal is to attract investment.

A robust patent strategy also reduces the risk of underpricing, especially as patents will provide investors with some level of comfort regarding a start-up’s defensive capabilities, while also providing insight into a company’s future product pipeline.

3) “We can think about intellectual property when we’re ready to exit”

This is another common stalling tactic for startup founders to use. While your exit strategy may seem a long way off, now is the time to put the foundations in place to make sure that nothing will halt your plans when the time to discuss acquisition or IPO comes along.

It’s absolutely crucial to be ready for M&A approaches with an extensive list of documented IP assets to hand. This is a far easier exercise to compile this list while the company is smaller and before IP proliferates rapidly.

It’s another advantage to starting the process sooner rather than later. There is also the added advantage that carrying out an IP audit exposes any weaknesses in your IP portfolio at a much earlier stage, when problems will be easier (and less expensive) to address.

4) “Patents are so expensive, it’s just not worth it!”

Yes, patenting your ideas and products can be costly in the short term, especially when you consider registering your IP in multiple territories and factoring in renewal fees – but you need to think about the bigger picture. 

In Europe, the acquisition deal value is generally four times higher for companies with European patents than those without, according to research by Antti Saari of the Aalto University School of Economics.

Taking a financial hit can be painful at the very beginning, but by failing to think about IP early on, you may be cheating yourself out of a bigger company valuation further down the line. Think of your investment in IP like an insurance policy that will help to look after you later on.

5) “I don’t need to focus on IP right now. I need to be focusing on getting customers”

Acquiring customers is always a priority for startups, but it’s difficult to emphasise how important it is to secure and assert your right to develop, manufacture and distribute your products and services, now and in the future.


This a guest contribution submitted by patent analytics platform, PatSnap, and adapted from Joe Bamsey’s original article here. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

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How e-signing works with Dragon Law

December 26, 2016

As Head of Legal at Dragon Law I’m normally the one doing seminars and presentations. I get a lot of challenging questions from business owners, and recent one encouraged me to write this article.

A gentleman asked me if electronic signing (e-signing) is legal in Hong Kong. ‘Yes’ I answered confidently, ‘legal in Hong Kong, Singapore and a host of other common law jurisdictions’. This is normally enough, but he followed up with a more interesting question: Is it more open to fraud?

I used to be a specialist fraud lawyer, so I found this particularly interesting. We’re used the idea of ‘wet ink’ signatures, and seeing somebody sign with a pen leaves you pretty certain that it was they who signed the contract! But what if you don’t see them sign?

Before you enter into a contract you have no doubt communicated with the other side (it would be strange if you hadn’t), so that is why we normally comfortable with sending a contract by post or email, and why you can often sign ‘counterparts’…..each party signs a different document. If you send a document in the post then you assume that it’s signed by the person you sent it to. Why wouldn’t you?

Dragon Law e-signing uses the email (provided by the other side of course) to which a signing link is sent.  The signing dates are time stamped and the document (stored in our cloud) cannot be amended after signature (as can be done with a print out). So it might be argued, and I would strongly, that e-signing is more secure that sending a contract in the post or as an email attachment.

Not sure what e-signing is?  We’ve summarised everything
you need to know in this guide: E-Signatures

The gentleman in question seemed satisfied with my answer, but suggested that e-signing might be used to create ‘fake’ parties……fake shareholders or fake buyers maybe. This, I agreed, might be the case, but a fake name and signature can be added to a word document.

I’ve since had a good long think about how e-signing might make fraud easier than old fashioned signing. I even asked my colleagues to try and come up with any idea. No ideas yet!

Like most technological advancements e-signing is quicker, easier, cheaper, and here to stay.

Christopher Sykes

Upload and Sign your own documents with a Dragon Law free account.
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Finishing 2016 The Right Way

December 25, 2016

The end of the year 2016 is closing in and there is a ton to do before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. In order to make the best of this holiday season, there are a few things you could get out of the way before the countdown begins! Lets take a look at how businesses can look at finishing 2016 the right way.

Sitting down to deal with legal paper work is not something we look forward to, in fact how often do we procrastinate taking even the most basic legal steps to better improve situations around us. But worry not! This Christmas use Dragon Law to make your life easier and to get the ball rolling before the New Year starts.

The New Year means new beginnings. If your business is expanding, or your favourite employee is leaving, don’t hesitate with hiring new staff as Dragon Law can help you quickly draw up a contract between you and the contender for your company in just a few minutes. Enjoy the party season knowing that you won’t have to worry or waste your resources looking for suitable candidates, and just focus on pursuing that really great business idea.

Looking to hire new staff? Click to learn more about the 12 Fundamentals of employment law with our e-book “The New Hire”:

Singapore Version; Hong Kong version.

Speaking of business ideas, if you are struck by sudden inspiration (the holiday season can bring out a lot of happy thoughts) – don’t postpone it to the point where you forget how awesome the idea was in the first place. Make 2017 the year that hesitation is a thing of the past and ambition in action – the way forward. Using Dragon Law, you can incorporate your business and have the legal documentation ready in under ten minutes.

Read all about the essentials on forming a business with our
 e-book “Incorporating”:

Singapore Version; Hong Kong version.

Motivated but still intimidated by the legal and procedural work that goes into getting started up? We are here to help you throughout the process, from knowing how to choose the right business structure when getting started up to when you should have your first AGM and getting familiar with early stage funding, even through the eyes of entrepreneurs, investors and lawyers! More so, learning from others’ mistakes can often help your process be a lot smoother, so here are a few mistakes to avoid if you are looking to start your business in Asia.

Another consideration when getting your business going is finding that perfect office, ie. the right workspace for your team. We have a few tips for you. Global cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore are great hubs to get your business started and we list 5 reasons why for each.

These cities are young and bustling and have a dynamic startup work culture. If you are looking for that perfect office space to get your business started or simply looking to cut costs from expensive monthly real estate rent, considering a co-working space might be beneficial. Great for networking and cheaper on your company expenses, these workspaces will definitely liven up your new year! Ensure your move in and agreements with the co-working space are clearly outlined and defined. The Dragon Law document building tool will help you quickly create new agreements and sign on new terms and conditions before you can say the words “bah humbug”.

Senior HR staff, please note – all your employees will be looking forward to the Office Christmas party. Why not make the night even more exciting for them this year by rewarding your employees for their hard work done in the past year. Remember happy employees leads to a happy work environment thus paving the way for your business to thrive and flourish!

This New Year come join us in being proactive and let Dragon Law take care of your legal headaches. Start your FREE 30 DAY TRIAL now. The solutions we offer are plenty and major time savers in busy times.

5 Tips for Making Facebook Marketing Part of Your Social Media Strategy

December 19, 2016

As your prospective customers spend more time online, it is crucial that you have in place an online marketing strategy to capture the attention of new audiences. But do you know where to begin?

With limited time and resources, you’d want to be spending time on the one channel that yields maximum results with minimum investment.

Facebook is the most popular social network around and an essential platform for online marketing with over 1.71 billion monthly active users.    Tweet this

Customers trust third party endorsements and family and friends more than they trust brand marketing. Presence of customer reviews on your Facebook Page help to build your credibility. Small businesses shouldn’t miss out on this opportunity to build a trustworthy online brand and reach and convert more prospects. 

Here are 5 top tips for making the most of your Facebook marketing strategy:

1) Create a professional and compelling Facebook page

Before you can start building your company brand on Facebook, you must first have a solid Facebook business page. This is a key touch point between you and your customers and will help you make the most out of your Facebook marketing activity.

Here are some quick tips for creating a solid Facebook page:

  1. Claim your Page’s vanity URL. Instead of using a randomly assigned number and URL, use a recognisable vanity URL to make your Page more shareable and searchable.
  2. Add a great cover photo. Make sure that your cover photo is optimised – 828 pixels by 315 pixels on desktop, and 640 pixels by 36 pixels on mobile. Check out more tips on what makes a good cover photo here.
  3. Add a recognisable profile picture. This should be something that is easy for visitors to recognise, such as your company logo. Again, keep in mind the ideal dimension of 180 pixels by 180 pixels.
  4. Optimise your “About” section  especially the preview. This is what appears on the left side of the page as a short blurb. Make sure that this section is brief yet descriptive to give visitors a sense of what your business is about before they decide to ‘Like’ you.
  5. Earn the “Very responsive to messages” badge. Having a response rate of 90% and a response time of 15 minutes over the last 7 days will earn you a “Very responsive to messages” badge. This assures customers of great service and your attentiveness to their needs.
  6. Add milestones. This allows you to highlight your business’ biggest accomplishments (e.g. awards, product releases, accolades).
  7. Choose a call-to-action button. Choose from seven pre-made button options (“Sign Up,” “Shop Now,” “Contact Us,” “Book Now,” “Use App,” Watch Video,” and “Play Game”) and link it to any website that aligns with your business’ goals. This can be your homepage, a landing page, a contact sheet or a video.
  8. Create custom page tabs. Apart from the default tabs such as Timeline, About, Photos and Likes, create custom tabs to give visitors a specific path for what you want them to do for your Page.

Source: HubSpot

2) Share content that is visually-attractive, relevant, adds value, and includes clear call-to-action

Every time you Like a Facebook post, there are 4,166,666 people doing the same. In short, there is an insane amount of content generated on Facebook every single day. For you to stand out in this sea of content, abide by these 4 principles:

  1. Visual. Given that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, make sure that any content you create includes an image that is visually appealing and attention grabbing.
  2. Relevant. There is a feature within the Facebook advertising platform that rates your ads and gives you a relevance score, similar to Ad Rank in Google AdWords. The more relevant your ad image, copy, and destination page are to your audience, the higher you score – and the more favourably Facebook will treat your ads.
  3. Enticing value proposition. This tells someone more about your business and why they should care. Adding social proof – for instance, by offering useful content such as an eBook – helps.
  4. Clear call-to-actions. Add a CTA like “Buy now and save X%,” or “Offer ends soon” to add a sense of urgency and encourage people to click on your ad or post now.

Adapted from HubSpot

These 4 principles apply regardless of the type of content you create – whether a post, regular ad, video ad, or event page. Here are some examples of Facebook ads that successfully abide by these 4 principles.

3) It’s not just about your product; there’s so much more

If your business has had an online presence on Facebook for a while, chances are that you would have spent some marketing dollars on Facebook Ads. Marketers like Facebook ads because they can be tailored for your target segment(s), letting you reach even more people based on location, age, gender, interests and more. What businesses sometimes forget is that they can do so much more with Facebook ads, beyond advertising your product.

Here are some suggestions for how you can harness Facebook to draw attention to your business and generate more clicks:

  • Host Facebook contests. Put simply, people love free stuff. Enticing users with promotions or discounts and free giveaways would likely have minimal actual cost for your business when compared with the social media and brand awareness payoff.
  • Crowd source answers. Post a simple question to the Facebook community or use polls to get them to vote on different questions. This is a form of social listening that signals your business’ customer focus and also allows you to collect insights on your potential customers.
  • Provide unique and valuable content. Offer advice and solutions to customers through your Facebook page. This can come in the form of eBooks, blog posts or videos, and can help establish your business as a thought leader in your field.

Adapted from Hootsuite

By opening up your marketing beyond your core product, you increase brand awareness and recall, generate more leads, and open up the doors for an initial touch point with your customers.

4) Answer the question: What’s in it for me?

Visitors who come across your Facebook ads for the first time may not be compelled to click if they know close to nothing about your product. But that’s not to say they are not your target customer. They may still be in the initial phase of their customer journey where they are understanding their problem, and the solutions that are available to them.

According to Hubspot’s inbound methodology, a typical customer journey comprises of 5 different stages (Strangers → Visitors → Leads → Customers → Promoters); you nurture customers through these stages with different objectives in mind (Attract, Convert, Close and Delight), by employing different marketing methods and channels such as the ones listed below:

Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing methodology.
Source: Dragon Law Legal Academy: Doing Business Online

This “lead magnet” magic is made possible when you continuously offer useful content to draw new visitors in. Put these content behind a “gate”, or otherwise known as “content upgrades”. When your content is of value, visitors will be happy to provide you with their email address and/or other contact information in return for it.

Examples of gated content include eBooks, guides, cheat sheets, tool kits, free trials, and discounts.

Source: Digital Marketer

In short, whatever goes into your Facebook (or any other form of social media) marketing efforts, make sure you tie it back to your business goals.

Of course, driving traffic to your business’ website means that you should also put your best face forward when it comes to your website. This means paying attention to a whole host of things – ensuring that your website copy is simple and succinct, having in place crucial legal documents such as the Website Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, and building an email list to communicate with your customers.

5) Use social media management tools  

When sharing content on social media, timing is everything. The best time to reach your target audience varies according to your business, product/service, and audience demographic. It is also important to share content regularly as this signals that your business is active and constantly engaging customers.

Source: Hootsuite

Every small business struggles with limited manpower and time. Of course you’re not going to designate one person whose role shall be to create and post content on Facebook around the clock! This is where social media management tools such as Hootsuite can help. Block out a day in a week, or a day in a month, just to sit down and schedule posts to go on Facebook. This allows you to schedule your posts at optimal times and gives you a big-picture overview of how much content you have so that you can avoid overwhelming your Facebook audience. Best of all, it allows you to save you time and stress – schedule all your posts ahead of your vacation so that you can enjoy a worry-free holiday! 

Did we miss anything? What are some Facebook strategies that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Lessons of a CEO #8

December 16, 2016

A year in review

Sometimes in life, we come to appreciate things gradually. Other times, the obvious strikes us more unexpectedly.

It took a brief trip this week to our Singapore office for me to truly realise Dragon Law, the business that I started in my living room (we don’t have garages in Hong Kong) is not just a company anymore. It’s not just a thing that was formed to house an idea, or a money producing machine designed for relentless growth. For the team of 50 or so that call Dragon Law home, it is a part of their life. A big part of it in fact. It is responsible for forming friendships that may last for years. It will be responsible for forming memories both good and bad.

How did this not occur to me before you might ask? A million and one reasons I guess. We often talk about building a company culture and for sure we think about individually rewarding and taking care of our people. But do we ever spend time considering the relationships that are formed when people are thrown together in an environment where pressure and expectations are hourly?

Much like that first year at university, the startup environment doesn’t offer a security blanket. We join, we are wound up, pointed in vaguely the right direction, and left to sink or swim. It is natural that in an environment like this, people form bonds. They form ties through learning, through impressing one another, bonding because they are the same age. Heck, because they share a love of pole dancing. Many reasons.

Related reading: 5 Ways to Incentivise Employees Without Burning a Hole in Your Pocket

Why does all this matter and why do I mention this in my year in review? Simply put, I look forward to the end of the year. Not just because it’s the one time of year I get a vacation, but because I know I can legitimately spend time in the office reflecting, and not just focus on the unending list of things that need fixing. It would not be an understatement to say that Dragon Law has had, by any standards, an amazing year. More than 6,000 businesses now use the service. We have expanded our coverage to 4 countries. We have rattled through so many new versions of our software that today’s release is Dragon Law version 2.7 and almost unrecognisable from version 1.0 released back in May 2015. Our business has grown by 400% again. Our Singapore office, which we launched at the beginning of 2016 has grown by 1,000%. The list goes on.

Dragon Law v 2.7. Try for free

But why is my Singapore moment of clarity so important? Because it reminds to me to focus on the why, not the what. The what is in startup terms, of course, great success. The why, is us, it is the seventy eight people who have each built a little piece of Dragon Law this year. It is the mornings when we have not wanted to get out of bed because we were so exhausted and hated the thought of doing it all again. It is the evenings when we sent messages to each other asking for reassurance. It is the weekends when we worried we had made a big mistake. And it is the Tuesday afternoon in December when we release the latest version of our App to a chorus of live chat approvals from every last Dragon with a phone in her hand. It is the Friday night in Hong Kong after RISE when the sales team can no longer remember their own names through a mixture of 2 parts work exhaustion to 1 part alcohol consumption (a mix ratio that forms the basis for most of their subsequent drinks. It is the moment we find out our Co-Founder is having his third child. It’s the sad moment when our people move on – because they will do. We make them great and they go off to be even greater. It’s the Saturday morning when I fly back to Hong Kong and I meet my children off the first ferry. It’s the month that things go well, and it’s the month that things go badly. It’s the morning that we think we can conquer the world, and the night hours when we wake up and question, question, question. With no answers.

It is these moments, and these friendships that make up the why, that make up the year, that make up Dragon Law. What a strange thing it is to be responsible for some of this; and what an amazing honour to witness this journey.  Happy Christmas to you all and a very happy new year.

Daniel Walker

Read the series:

Lessons of a CEO #7: Scaling Up
Lessons of a CEO #6: A Room With A View

Lessons of a CEO #5: Screen Time
Lessons of a CEO #4: Sit down next to me
Lessons of a CEO #3: A Brief History of Thyme
Lessons of a CEO #2: Fashion Foreword
Lessons of a CEO #1: Lessons I’ve learned