If you’ve been following the news lately, then you probably heard about the trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes was a Silicon Valley star who quickly became a billionaire after developing what many thought would be revolutionizing technology that would reshape the blood-testing industry. However, she quickly fell from grace once investors and investigators discovered that the technology used by Theranos was ineffective and Holmes appeared to have lied to investors and patients about its success.
Now Holmes has been found guilty on multiple counts of fraud and many startup business owners are finding themselves worried about what this case means for them. So, what can we learn from the Theranos case?
- Words matter: To start, you have to be careful with what you say, especially when you’re dealing with potential financial transactions. It’s one thing to say that you hope that your business will do something in the future, but it’s completely different to claim that your business is already achieving that goal. That’s the crux of Holmes’s conviction in the Theranos case: she told investors that the technology worked in order to secure money when the technology, in fact, did not work.
- Find third-party support: To avoid the appearance of making false claims, have third-party evidence to back up your position. This may be other witnesses, sure, but it’s most beneficial to have some concrete scientific or financial documentation that you can point to in order to support your claims.
- Choose investors wisely: As you’re starting a business, it’s easy to take money from anywhere you can get it. But you should try to secure investments from those who are familiar with your business’s line of work. That way they can help ensure that you’re remaining in compliance with applicable regulations and can ask pertinent questions that may, in the long run, keep you out of trouble.
Turn to a legal professional when accusations are made.
So, while you’ll want to do as much as you can on the front end to protect yourself from allegations of criminal wrongdoing, you’ll also want to be prepared to defend yourself in the event that you’re accused of breaking the law. Fortunately, there are strong criminal defense attorneys out there who can help you navigate the intricacies of your white collar crime case and fight to secure the just outcome that you deserve.