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Mastering Equity Management: Insights from The Power of Equity Event by SeedBlink


Patricia Borlovan

· 3 min read
Mastering Equity Management: Insights from The Power of Equity Event by SeedBlink
Discover the power of equity dynamics and ESOPs. Explore key takeaways from our event, empowering you to optimize your company's equity strategies.

Today is all about The Power of Equity while Navigating ESOPs and Cap Table Dynamics. We are taking the time to extract the lessons from the event with the same name hosted by SeedBlink, on May 23rd.

We had the honour to have as guest speakers:

We summarized in this article the key highlights from the two enlightening sessions held during the event: ESOP & Cap Table Management. While discussing these two topics, we’ll address the implications and implementation from a business and legal perspective.

Keep reading as we unravel below the key takeaways from these thought-provoking sessions!

ESOP & Its Value for Startups

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) have emerged as a valuable resource for startups, offering various benefits and contributing to their success.

By implementing ESOPs, startups build a culture of ownership among their employees, ensuring a shared commitment to the company's growth and prosperity. These plans also play a vital role in attracting and retaining key hires, providing enticing incentives linked directly to the startup's performance.

Mindset — Creating a Sense of Ownership

ESOPs generate a sense of ownership among employees beyond mere motivation or engagement.

Implementing an ESOP makes individuals genuinely invested in the company's success. This can prove immensely valuable as employees feel a personal stake in the company's growth and outcome.

Key takeaways:

  • Despite the high failure rate of startups historically, employees are still interested in stock options as they see it as a chance to succeed.
  • ESOPs are a good fit in a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, as employees take personal responsibility for the company's performance.
  • Option plans are not primarily about motivation or engagement but about creating a sense of ownership and encouraging employees to ask questions and understand the business better.

The shift in mindset empowered by this type of plan creates a collaborative work environment and drives long-term success for the company and its workforce.

Attracting Key Hires with Limited Resources

ESOPs can be a highly effective incentive for startups with limited cash resources to attract critical hires.

As the company grows and its value increases, the options granted through ESOPs can become a significant part of the employee's compensation. This encourages long-term commitment and loyalty to the company.

Key takeaways:

  • ESOPs enable startups to compete for top talent in a competitive job market.
  • When bringing people on board, discussing the total value they can receive in the company over the years and designing a compensation package that aligns with their ambitions is essential.
  • Stock options can help with retention by giving employees a sense of long-term commitment and potential rewards.
  • Employees become active participants in decision-making processes and directly impact the value of their shares and the company's overall success.

Presenting Growth Scenarios

During discussions with new potential hires or current employees, employers should provide a realistic plan that includes the company’s growth scenarios.

When looking at the current situation and the best or worst possible scenarios, people get a better picture of what to expect from the future. This way, they learn how their employee stock option plan comes into play in the long term and have transparency on future outcomes.

Key takeaways:

  • ESOPs involve the creation of new shares through stock option programs instead of using existing shares.
  • Conservative, normal, and optimistic — three typical scenarios when assessing the value of what is being given away through this type of plan.
  • Maintaining a separate share pool for ESOP — founders can allocate shares specifically for employee ownership, facilitating a clear and transparent system.

Implementing a Role-Based Framework for ESOP

Implementing a role-based approach maximizes the effectiveness of ESOPs in motivating and rewarding employees. Allocations should be based on a well-designed framework that considers the unique needs and incentives of different roles within the company.

Key takeaways:

  • Design a framework that meets the needs of each role.
  • Different roles in the company may have distinct salary structures and incentives.
  • Taking salary components into account, especially for roles that involve commissions or bonuses, helps align expectations effectively.

Understanding the incentives that drive different roles, such as commissions for sales roles and higher base salaries for engineers, ensures fair and appropriate ESOP allocations.

ESOP — Legal Considerations

Contrary to popular belief, implementing ESOPs from a legal standpoint is more manageable than it may seem. Proper administration and compliance are necessary to respect the rights of option holders and avoid potential legal issues.

Seeking the guidance of a lawyer can ensure proper implementation. Additionally, using specialized equity management software, such as Nimity, can aid in managing ESOPs effectively and efficiently.

Key takeaways:

  • It's important to consult legal counsel to understand the legalities and details of ESOPs and stock options in specific cases.
  • The terms "good leavers" and "bad leavers" exist in ESOPs to handle various scenarios, including employees leaving voluntarily, restructuring, or forced termination.
  • Underperformance is not a grey area; legal counsel can guide companies in handling different circumstances.

Startups need to be cautious and plan to avoid potential disputes over promised options or shares.

Creating New Shares through Stock Option Programs

Founders must understand that ESOPs always involve the creation of new shares rather than giving away existing ones.

Stock option programs establish a pool of shares that are allocated to employees. The size of this pool depends on the company's stage and expected growth potential.

Key takeaways:

  • Founders can also be part of the ESOP, especially if they have been significantly diluted in the initial financing stages of the company.
  • Depending on the jurisdiction and company structure, stock options through ESOPs could be used for advisors and freelance consultants. Still, they may need to be more suitable for customers or clients.
  • The process of granting options involves approving the plan, giving the options to the employee through a grant agreement, and determining triggers for exercising the options.
  • The options grant agreement entitles the employees to exercise their options and become shareholders in the company.
  • The exercise of options does not automatically make an employee a shareholder. Shares need to be issued and transferred to complete the process.

Using stock options to remove bad investors or reshuffle the cap table is impractical, as stock options usually represent a small portion of the company's share capital.


In summary, ESOPs offer numerous advantages, especially for startups.

They instil a sense of ownership among employees, attract the best hires, and provide a framework for incentivizing and retaining talent. Proper legal guidance and a good software management tool are crucial for successful implementation.

Stay tuned for other events organized by SeedBlink and Nimity focusing on equity, ESOP, and cap table topics. We aim to bring together industry experts, legal professionals, and experienced practitioners who will share their expertise and provide valuable guidance.

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