Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Legal Analyst, Hrm
Senior Services Manager
Korgaonkar K A
Educator, Management Consultant & Trainer

Hello everyone, I am a founder and ceo of a company which has been providing software development and digital marketing services. The company also created a startup product; a mobile app. I founded this company along with a friend. The company is registered in his name and not mine. (no partnership agreement because of mutual trustworthy friendship, and in his name because there were some documentation issue at that time and we wanted to get it registered fast).
I am now applying for a scholarship and immigration as well. The question is, how to show my experience of this company? what shall be the experience letter? Should I mention the designation as being Founder & CEO? (A sub question; is it better to just write "Founder" or just "CEO" or "Founder & CEO" is the best? keeping in view the startup and small business thing in mind) Whatever the designation, from above choices, mentioned in the letter, who will sign the letterhead?
3rd September 2016 From Pakistan, Lahore
Dear friend,
I recommend you taking backdated appointment letter from your friend. Show the designation as "Director". Obtain employment certificate from your friend that mentions date of joining, last working day etc.
Dinesh Divekar
3rd September 2016 From India, Bangalore
Dear Dinesh ji,
Hope you are doing well.
It seems to me the company is a proprietary firm and the friend of queriest is a sole proprietor of the company.
In this case, there can not be any sort of agreement between the queriest and his friend. It is a benami transaction between both of them. The queriest can not be called or considered him self as a founder. Also, he can not be designated as "Director" in proprietary firm. He can be a "CEO" of company with due documentations signed by the proprietor.
Hope you will have assent with me.
3rd September 2016 From India, Mumbai
Yes, KORGAONKAR is right. This is the case. OK, so can I write "Co-Founder & CEO" on the letter and get it signed by the other "Co-Founder & Director"? The thing is, I want to mention that I founded the company and not merely served on job as CEO or whatever.
Another question, just for knowledge, what will be the experience letter of the other person in such case who is the sole proprietor? Who will sign that?
3rd September 2016 From Pakistan, Lahore
You can not be a Founder or Co-Founder in the eyes of Law.
What legal proof you have that you are a Founder or Co-Founder? If at all you founded the company, what stake you have now in this company legally which is a sole proprietary. You can be a Founder or Co-Founder in the eyes of public but not in the eyes of Law, like many politicians are having number of (benami) companies.
For sole proprietor, there is no experience certificate to him by any body. He has to give self declaration of sole proprietary, date of it's commencement with documentary proof such as Gumasta registration or any other registration alike, bank account details etc.
3rd September 2016 From India, Mumbai
Dear Mr. Zaidi,
Your query is not about experience letter from an employer to an employee for the service rendered by him on some particular assignment. Your need is for the purpose based experience of a founder and CEO. So, a passing reference of the purpose, "I am now applying for a scholarship and immigration as well" is not sufficient to advise you appropriately, unless you give clear description of the nature of scholarship and its conditions. Not only that, if experience letter is necessary for the purpose of immigration, that may be of separate nature.
So, instead of putting a question of genric nature, be clear in your purpose whether for a specific type scholarship or for immigration purpose.
However, so far as your main question is concerned, "who will sign the experience letter of a "Founder & CEO", naturally the proprietor of the firm, not you, will sign, if experience of a responsible position is to be shown.
4th September 2016 From India, Delhi
The purpose is off course to show that I have founded a startup. Solely for a scholarship application, in which I have mentioned this thing in the Statement of Purpose. Leave aside the immigration thing at the moment. What do you suggest now? What can be done if I have to prove them that I founded the company?
(By the way, for scholarship, university is abroad and I do not think that the university is going to verify that legally. Maximum they can do is to visit official website, where they will find the truth about me being founder in the About section.)
4th September 2016 From Pakistan, Lahore
Mr. Zaidi,

I don't think your approach is correct, as in normal course, the requirement of the foreign institutions/ organizations offering scholarships is not the experience certificates, but self write ups of the achievements of the candidates through their applications.Since thousands of applications throng for such scholarships, I don't think there is any such system of verification of the experience certificates from the organizations before grant of scholarships due to paucity of time with them, as possibility of the experience certificates being fake cannot be ruled out in case of several candidates. They normally judge the capabilities from the structural effectiveness of the applications to short-list the candidates. That I can say from my own personal experience, as applications of the some foreign candidates, some years back, were drafted by me also, as a freelancer conultant for them. Rest of the job is completed on the presentations of the candidates during their interview/ counselling sessions. So your application should be so effectively impressive to make the selectors believe on your own statement, rather than experience certificate.

However, if you still believe that your experience certificate can work, or there is any specific requirement of the scholarship application, I have already expressed my opinion that the proprietor of the firm will sign the experience letter.
5th September 2016 From India, Delhi
Respected PS DHINGRA ji,
Greetings of Ganesh Chaturthi!!!
I have questions to you Sir with due respect.
Can any proprietor certify that someone else is a Founder or Co-Founder of his Proprietary Firm? How any third person will be a Founder or Co-Founder of any Proprietary Firm?
5th September 2016 From India, Mumbai
Dear sir,
Lets weigh aspects the way you count . Normally I do not comment on issues other than core HR/ER. But here I want to write few words as a personal friend of yours.
What is there in exp. certificate certifying you as Co-founder that would enable any scholarship or immigration certificate. You are CEO, and as a role holder, it enables you too and three much!!
Best wishes
RDS Yadav
Navtarng HR Services
9th September 2016 From India, Delhi
In such a situation let your friend who is the co-founder sign your experience letter. The point is what you have achieved as the Founder & CEO is important during the migration process. the co-founder's letter is very much valid from a legal stand point. As a stake holder of the organization your leadership skills can be seen. trust this helps
9th September 2016 From India, Chennai
Dear Korgaonkar,

In such matters, we may have to distinguish between the founder/subscriber and the ownere.

The following examples may probably give you reply to the point raised by you:

About 30 years back, on a cabinet note from the Government of India, I was assigned the job to form a PSU by carving our a part of one major department of the Government of India. I along with one assistant and a hired company secretary had to work on war footing, as we were given a time of only 6 weeks to get all the spade work to make the corporation functional. All the jobs right from finding a suitable name, approval from Registrar of Companies, framing a Memorandum & Articles of Association, registration of the company with the Registrar of the Company & getting a certificate of incorporation, getting a certificate of commencement of business by the company, etc. were accomplished by us. Since it was a company to be established under one Government Department, we had to take a few names jut for formality sake from the top brass of that department, as the subscribers to the MAA. Except that they were aware of the information that they were shown as the subscribers, they never made any contribution to any of the job, we did. Within 5 weeks, we were able to get all the jobs done except the certificate of commencement of business, as the same could be obtained only after making th company actually functional. After completion of the major work, the Board of Directors was appointed. I persally had to make all the resolutions to be approved by the Board to make the company functional. The next day first Board meeting was got conducted, resolutions were got passed, all other formalities of the companies were started to be completed. That included delegation of powers at various levels and making arrangement of a huge loan from the other wing of the department to to disburse the salary of the existing thousands of employees, who were made part of the corporation on deemed deputaation. A certificate of commencement was therefore could be managed to be obtained from the Registrar office two days before the target date to make that functional publically.

So, in the whole process, the reference of cabinet of Government of India, the department, subscribers to MAA, and the Board come in to picture. So, you may like to think, whether Cabinet of the Government of India, the subscribers to the MAA, the department or the Board can be considered as the founder of the company, while all the jobs were accomplished by a small team of three of us to make the company functional?

Another example can be on your person. Suppose, you establish a firm with the intention to establish your son in a business, do all the jobs by yourself, including the funding of the firm to make your son stand on strong footing. Just think, whether you or your son can be treated as founder of the firm. No question of owner.
10th September 2016 From India, Delhi
Dear Kporgaonkar,
In addition to my last post, I may like to remind you that you may not forget to check the actual meaning of the term, "founder." According to dictionary meaning, a founder is a "creator", "originator, "initiator", "organizer," BUT CANNOT only be the the owner. So, a founder can be anyone other than owner also.
11th September 2016 From India, Delhi
Respected Dhingra ji,

Thanks for your contribution in this subject matter especially for your posts addressing me.

Sir, you are very senior professional with far greater and rich experience than me. What you said in your posts # 12 & 13 is correct but I feel, that is not applicable to sole Proprietary or even to Partnership Firm. My question was pertaining to only sole Proprietary.

Even in Private Limited Company or in Public Limited Company and also in Limited Liability Company, a person should have some stake on paper to be called himself as a Founder, in my view.

In the examples given by you, element of stake is seen in both the cases and therefore, in both the cases you can rightly call the person/s as Founder/s or Co-Founders. (I presumed here the second case is not falling under sole Proprietary. First one is Public Limited Company as you mentioned).

In Proprietary, you can not call a person who helped you in forming the company as Founder. This is my view.

I submit this with due respect to you Sir.
11th September 2016 From India, Mumbai
Koregaonkar ji,

Views may differ from person to person. It is the question of interpretation of the term. I have already stated, founder is a "creator", "originator, "initiator", "organizer." Existence of stake can be or cannot be there. Unlike the conditions prescribed for a subscriber of the MAA in the company case, there is a difference between the terms, "founder" and "subscriber." If we see a building, our vision normally goes to its upper structure, not the foundation on which that stands. Similarly in any organization founder usually goes to oblivision and only the owner can be seen in the forefront.

So, in the perspective of management, our vision should not be narrow unless that is prescribed or prohibited by law of the land. Even on review, laws are also liable to be treated as wrong. For example the Government of India introduced Section 66A in the Information Technolology Act in 2009, prescribing punishment of 3 years of imprisonment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc., but in 2015 the Supreme Court of India treated that as unconstitutional. So, interpretations depend upon the facts, circumstances and characteristics of any case.
12th September 2016 From India, Delhi
I thank you all for your valuable suggestions. However, I must assert that our focus has been diverted to "scholarship" and "immigration" rather than the actual problem which can serve as a case study for many entrepreneurs. We should not be debating on the purpose of the letter, I just cited that as example, the core issue is "how to show the entrepreneurial experience if and when your startup is not in your name in legal documents?"
15th September 2016 From Pakistan, Lahore
In a situation where you are not formally projected as Co-Founder then one of the ways would be to file for joint patent of the products that you have created. Another option will then be negotiating with the person in whose name the firm is right now and to convert it into a partnership firm as per laws of the land and gain semblance in the organization structure and a formal role.
16th September 2016 From India, Chennai
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