Due Diligence checklist: investment (start up)

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Legal due diligence checklist for an investment in a start-up company, for a company which has not commenced trading or has only traded for a limited period.

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When do I use this document?

  • for the legal due diligence for an investment transaction
  • where the subject company is a start-up company or has a limited trading history
  • as initial requests for the company to answer and provide supporting documents

What are the key features?

  • requests in tabular form, with the company’s answers to be inserted in the table
  • requests covering 10 key subject areas, including:
    • corporate
    • contracts
    • litigation and compliance
    • assets
    • intellectual property
    • commercial property
    • employees
    • finance and insurance
    • taxation
    • business plan/forecasts

What else do I need to know?

In evaluating a start-up company, investors typically focus on:

  • share capital: verifying the number of issued shares and shares reserved or granted as share options
  • funding: understanding how the company has been financed, including loans from the founders or family members which may need to be converted to equity
  • founder service contracts: investigating whether the founder(s) have service contracts, committing them to the business and including post-termination restrictive covenants and intellectual property protections
  • intellectual property: checking that externally developed intellectual property is owned by the company
  • business plan and projections: scrutinising the preparation and basis of the company’s business plan, forecasts and projections

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