Continuing our series on Leaders & Influencers, we chat with intellectual property attorney Erin Ogden, partner at the recently formed OgdenGlazer, a firm specializing in helping startups and entrepreneurs strategically start, grow, and create value in their businesses.
What made you decide to start OgdenGlazer, LLC, and how does your background lend itself to this new endeavor?
I blame all of the start-up and entrepreneur clients that I work with: It’s a virus and I caught it! Before we started OgdenGlazer, I was working at a more traditional law firm and feeling like there were many ways I could be serving my clients that traditional firms weren’t particularly comfortable with, like charging flat fees. So we started the firm to help best meet the needs of these kinds of entrepreneurial clients.
I also have degrees in Genetics and Dairy Science and was looking at a PhD track, but I saw a better opportunity with the law, so I took it. But I’m not afraid of making those big jumps and left-hand turns, which is often helpful in dealing with entrepreneurs. I’m not afraid of science and technology, which is a good thing because I often deal with my clients virtually and working with them via the cloud really fits their world best.
I also do things like beta testing with my clients, which is really unusual for an attorney, but I learned that from my tech clients. I may agree to working for a client for a flat fee, so they might pay me less, but in exchange I expect to get more feedback from them so that I can make sure we’re really working in partnership to make sure our firm meets their needs,
What’s the most important piece of legal advice you give to someone who is considering a start-up or new business?
There are a couple of things. The first thing I always tell people is to talk about all of the problems that could happen while they’re getting along, and decide on what you’ll do if/when those things happen. Write down those agreements so that if something happens later when you’re not getting along, you can go back and abide by those decisions you all agreed to earlier.
Second, don’t fall in love with your name, whether that be a company name or product name or whatever. Come up with a few names you like, then get them checked for trademark. It’s much better to do this up front before you’ve designed a logo and had it printed, or worse, before you get a cease and desist letter in the mail.
Any legal-related books, blogs, or podcasts you recommend to new or established entrepreneurs?
I tend to receive many more recommendations than I give. My clients are always suggesting book titles to me! A few of my favorites are Brand Hijack: Marketing Without Marketing by Alex Wipperfurth, which talks about how customers can take control of your brand, and if and when that’s okay. I also love Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and am always reminding my clients and myself “10,000 hours!” when we don’t feel like we’re total experts at something yet. I also really like Why Smart Executives Fail by Sydney Finkelstein, which includes case studies of failed initiatives of companies and what some of the common threads are in those failures. I’m a big believer in learning from others’ mistakes and am constantly asking my clients, associates, and friends what they wish someone had told them when they started out or what they wished they had done differently. It’s fascinating and good information for me both in terms of running my own business and helping my clients with their businesses.
What’s the single most important change you’d like to see to encourage more innovation and entrepreneurship in our community?
I think that expanding inclusiveness and diversity are really important. Whether it’s race, gender, socioeconomic status, educational background—I just think that diversity and inclusiveness in entrepreneurship will only strengthen all of our businesses, as well as our community. I work with Doyenne Group in trying to get more women involved in entrepreneurship, and as a member of the YMCA Board, I see how that organization is really focused on nurturing diversity and, particularly, diversity in leadership. So it’s just an issue I keep an eye on and try to support.
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