The X-UP incubation programme acts as a springboard for the development of innovative start-ups by making them productive and independent. This is why, Constellation has been participating in the programme with a complete legal program that covers essential topics for the project owners : status, intellectual protection, industrial protection… as well as specific legal support to each project.
Complete legal support for X-UP
While the Constellation law firm occasionally provided legal expertise to previous X-Up promotions, this year, their support is regular and comprehensive for incubated start-ups. Spearheaded by Roberta Camera, the new X-UP program manager, the twelfth promotion benefits from a complete, need-based legal and personalized support throughout the incubation. A personalized legal support is a good means to increase the rate of success of start-ups with 9 out of 10 failing.
"It is for the first time that X-Up has decided to choose a cabinet of lawyers who provide support in legal aspects with structured guidance coherent to the rest of the programme", explains Hortense Moisand, associate at Constellation. "We were selected because we propose different types of expertise and our firm is focussed on innovation like the center for entrepreneurship at X. Our value addition is our range of digital tools and legal diagnostics for optimising the relation between client and lawyer."
Constellation’s contribution to entrepreneurs
The incubated entrepreneurs have a lot of knowledge and skills related to their domains but only few have a developed legal culture. This is where Constellation steps in by providing legal expertise adapted to the actual needs of the project owners. The goal is not to create lawyers but to initiate inquisitiveness and create dialogue between the project owners and advocates.
"It is important to have a pedagogy. The idea is to make the entrepreneurs understand that law is a tool for structuring and strategic thinking : it is an ally, not a constraint! ", adds Hortense Moisand
Phases of X-UP legal support
Roberta Camera and Constellation have elaborated four phases of individual and collective support during the six months of incubation of entrepreneurs. Due to the current health crisis, the different phases are conducted on line.
The first phase begins with the legal evaluation of the project in order to assess if any legal obstacles exist in its DNA. Constellation lawyers examine the different projects and construct the programme accordingly. Thereafter, a pair of advocates conduct an hour-long individual meeting with each start-up to get additional information and a 360° vision of their project. In the long run, Constellation aims to conduct online diagnosis specifically for X-UP entrepreneurs.
Workshop and specific focus
The second phase of the support starts with a workshop of three hours with all the incubated startups of the promotion. This workshop is an opportunity to discover all the speakers of Constellation, know their expertise and understand the usefulness of legal advise and applied methodology, qualities to be sought in an advocate etc.
The programme is then divided into 8 specific topics till the end of incubation in March. These topics were chosen in line with the incubated projects and innovation. The themes are :
- Agreement of confidentiality and business secrecy
- Constitution of the structure
- Legal protection of the innovation
- Arrangement and opening up of capital
- Promotion of innovation
- Contractual security
- Taxation of innovation
- Human capital
X-UP organises « Constellation Hours » , a personalised legal coaching dedicated to project owners as per the needs identified by Roberta Camera. For example, if a start-up is negotiating with a potential partner, the entrepreneur(s) would receive legal advise relating to the agreement of confidentiality ; negociation and contractual arrangement with the partners. This coaching is done individually according to the wish of the project owners.
Final legal evaluation
At the end of the programme, a legal evaluation of the project is done to assess the effectiveness of the support provided.
Principal legal needs of the start-ups
A number of legal needs were identified during the X-UP promotions but some are essential for innovative startups.
The first need relates to legal access. The legal background of the startups being heterogenous, it is important to overcome barriers of apprehension and limited means during initial phase. Law can be a formidable tool for development and structuring, a true ally for start-ups. "The digital diagnostics by legal themes that we propose are very useful for entrepreneurs because it helps them to know where they stand and what are their actual needs. Hence, they know what they should ask to their lawyer.", explains Hortense Moisand
Apart from this, the project owners have important needs relating to intellectual and industrial properties. These are immaterial aspects that that bring value to the enterprise : it is important to know how to identify, protect and promote them.
The third principal need concerns the structure and status of the enterprise : it is the legal vehicle of the project. It is equally important to define individual roles and governance in a startup.
Lastly, the knowledge of contracts, contractual arrangements and negociation are important soft skills to develop a start-up.
The goal is not to fine-tune but understand the logic and trade-off between each theme and be able to reflect. Thanks to its complete legal programme, the incubated start-ups would realise that the law is an ally and is absolutely necessary for forecasting a legal budget in their business model for securing their project. Indeed, the legal angle is primordial in innovation for promoting the enterprise correctly.
Constellation : An innovative and digital law firm
Constellation is a law firm of independant and multidisciplinary advocates engaged in the ecosystem of legal innovation serving enterpreneurs and enterprises. The advocates of Constellation have different individual skills which improve collectively for serving the project of their clients. Their goal is to provide a true external legal direction with sustainable support.
Their knowledge of digital tools and their desire to automatise legal diagnostics for optimising client-advocate relations made them create the Uperia Legal project, online diagnostics to be completed by the client to precisely analyse their needs and receive tailor-made support. This project was selected for the 2020 Paris Bar Innovation Prize.