Duly Noted . . .

MiSpringboard program reaches milestone with 200th client

MiSpringboard, the Varnum program that provides free legal services to Michigan startup and second-stage businesses, reached a milestone recently when the 200th client was accepted.

The client is actually a collective of Michigan-based enterprise software development firms that plan to form a non-profit organization. Known as Detroit DevOps, the collective holds an annual conference that brings together software developers and IT operations. The two-day conference, part of a worldwide network of similar "devopsdays" conferences, aims to improve the relationship between development and operations through seminars and facilitated breakout sessions.

While every client accepted into MiSpringboard receives a minimum of $2,500 in legal services, Detroit DevOps will receive $5,000 in recognition of the milestone.

“The central idea of the MiSpringboard program was to share our primary asset - legal knowledge - with startups in order to help them grow and strengthen our Michigan economy," said Varnum Chairman Dave Khorey. "We are delighted that our 200th client is also an organization committed to sharing industry knowledge for the same purpose."

MiSpringboard was started by Varnum back in 2011 as a way to support Michigan's economy by helping entrepreneurs avoid some of the costs associated with starting a new business. Although services are determined based on client need, typical legal services for MiSpringboard clients include company formation and operating agreements, employment agreements, vendor contracts, trademark work and licensing agreements.

Varnum partner Matt Bower, whose practice focuses on entrepreneurs and startups, works extensively with MiSpringboard. He said most clients accepted into the program have spent a great deal of time developing their products and are just beginning to think about legal services.

“For most of our MiSpringboard clients, we are helping them with the building blocks of getting their company off the ground,” Bower said.

Once that groundwork is laid a fledgling company is much better able to take off by attracting investors or other financing. “That's when we really kick in as lawyers, helping them with the financing part of it,” Bower said.

To date, Varnum's 200 MiSpringboard clients hail from over 60 cities around the state. A large segment are technology based businesses, including software as a service companies, mobile app makers, and connectivity-based platforms. Others are involved in medical research, biotech and electronics. Still others are in transportation, tutoring and beekeeping.