William J. Bernat
William J. Bernat is a partner in Nutter’s Corporate and Transactions Department. He co-chairs the firm's Emerging Companies Group and co-leads the firm's Food and Beverage group. Clients routinely rely on Will to help them navigate through private equity, venture capital, and angel financing transactions, as well as mergers and acquisitions, commercial lending transactions, and other corporate governance issues.
Tech, life sciences, consumer/retail, and food & beverage companies look to Will for assistance throughout their entire lifespans, from initial planning and formation to operations and exit, including formulating the strategy to realize their business goals and to build the foundation necessary to secure third party investment. Investors in emerging growth companies seek Will’s counsel when structuring their financing transactions. Will has counseled clients in angel and venture backed financings representing an aggregate of over $250 million in investment in local early stage companies.
Banks and other financial institutions rely on Will’s expertise when structuring asset-based and other commercial lending transactions with both emerging and entrepreneurial companies and more mature borrowers. Will has guided both lenders and borrowers through transactions representing aggregate commitments in excess of $1 billion.
Notable Experience and Client Impact
General Corporate/Emerging Companies
- Advised The Living Apothecary, a probiotic water kefir maker based in Oakland, California, in a $1.4 million financing round led by L.A. Libations and Venice Brands.
- Advised Demers Food Group Inc. in a round of financing led by Arbel Growth Partners LP, the private equity firm led by Carl Lee, the former president and CEO of Snyder’s Lance, Inc.
- Advised Zagster, Inc., the nation’s leading provider of modern, flexible bike share services, in securing $15 million in growth capital.
- Advised Wandering Bear Coffee, a cold brew coffee maker, in its recently completed $8 million Series A equity round of financing.
- Advised Zagster, Inc., the leading provider of private and public-private bike sharing systems, when it raised $10 million in a Series B round of funding led by Edison Partners, a leading growth equity capital firm.
- Served as transactional and corporate counsel to an artwork rental and rotation startup on multiple financing rounds
- Acted as corporate counsel for a leading sunglasses producer in the United States, including store-within-store partnerships
- Played a key role in expanding the original fantasy sports-game retailer beyond board-game enthusiasts to online and mobile users through joint ventures and co-promotion arrangements with sports media outlets and developers
- Served as corporate and fundraising counsel to an all-natural snack food company, protein-based beer company, and organic fitness beverage company
- Advised a nationally recognized full-service mobile app development company in multiple transactions
- Represented Hans Kissle Company, LLC in its $108 Million Acquisition by Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
- Advised on $40 million joint venture between a photoelectric sheeting company and a commercial solar panel producer
- Represented a co-working space provider, including multiple partnerships and joint ventures with a national retailer
- Advised on the sale of a privately-held wide format digital printing company to a strategic buyer
- Provided counsel on the acquisition of a medical device coating and surface treatment business by a private biomedical company for a combination of cash and equity
- Advised on the acquisition of a UK-based asset management risk model business by a privately-held strategic buyer
- Advised on the sale of a venture-backed digital photography asset management software company to a privately-held strategic buyer
- Provided counsel on the sale of a dietary supplement and pharmaceuticals business to a privately-held strategic buyer
- Advised on the sale of an educational research, marketing, and branding business to a publicly traded media and marketing company
- Advised on the acquisition of Golf Digest-rated “Best Places to Play” golf course on Cape Cod by private buyers
- Represented syndicate of five of the largest U.S. banks in connection with $500+ million loan facility to diversified real estate investment/CMBS, multi-family mortgage and LIHTC syndication company
A leader in Boston’s innovation and startup community, Will serves on the partners’ committee of, and is a frequent lecturer and panel member at, The Capital Network, a nonprofit organization that brings together Boston’s largest active community of investors and startup experts to provide practical, hands-on education and personalized mentoring to young entrepreneurs to help them navigate the fundraising process. In addition, Will serves as a mentor and holds regular office hours at MassChallenge, a startup accelerator, and Golden Seeds, one of the nation’s most active early-stage investment firms.
Will frequently serves as a lecturer and guest speaker at the MIT Enterprise Forum, the Babson Entrepreneurship Forum, and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, where he presents on topics such as the fundamentals of term sheets and capitalization tables, and general corporate finance and formation issues.
- Wandering Bear, Inc.
Nutter served as legal counsel to Wandering Bear, Inc., a cold brew coffee maker, in connection with a $1 million revolving line of credit facility from Assembled Brands Capital Funding, LLC.
- Hälsa Foods
Nutter served as sole legal advisor to Hälsa Foods, the maker of the first and only 100% clean and organic oat milk yogurt, in connection with its recently announced financing round led by Gary Hirshberg, co-founder and former long-time CEO and chairman of Stonyfield Organic.
- Cali’flour Foods
Nutter advised Cali’flour Foods, the developer and manufacturer of low-carb, gluten-free cauliflower products, in a Series A financing round led by Sunrise Strategic Partners, with participation from CircleUp Growth Partners.
- Acquirer in the food and beverage industry
Nutter represented the acquirer in the purchase and license of certain assets related to an overnight oats brand from a multinational food and beverage corporation.
- Hans Kissle Company, LLC
Nutter represented Hans Kissle Company, LLC, a manufacturer of private label and branded foods for retail, foodservice, club, and convenience store customers throughout the United States, in its acquisition by Mitsui & Co., Ltd., a Japanese diversified industrial holding company. The total value of the transaction was approximately $108 million.
- The Living Apothecary
Nutter advised The Living Apothecary, a probiotic water kefir maker based in Oakland, CA, in a $1.4 million financing round led by L.A. Libations and Venice Brands.
- Zagster, Inc.
Nutter advised Zagster, Inc., the nation’s leading provider of modern, flexible bike share services, in securing $15 million in growth capital.
Nutter represented Kombrewcha (the first alcoholic Kombucha) in its sale to a strategic acquirer.
- Wandering Bear Coffee
Nutter advised Wandering Bear Coffee, a cold brew coffee maker, in its recently completed $8 million Series A equity round of financing.
- Zagster, Inc.
Nutter advised Zagster, Inc., the leading provider of private and public-private bike sharing systems, when it raised $10 million in a Series B round of funding led by Edison Partners, a leading growth equity capital firm.
News & Insights
- 03.23.2020 | Press Release
- 12.10.2019 | Press Release
- 05.06.2019 | Media Coverage
- 02.05.2019 | Press Release
- 10.31.2018 | Press Release
- 04.12.2018 | Media Coverage
- 03.01.2018 | Press Release
- 02.07.2018 | Press Release
- 01.06.2017 | Press Release
- Nutter Partner William Bernat Selected as a ‘2016 Up & Coming Lawyer’ by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly03.14.2016
- Will Bernat, Jeremy Halpern, and Steven Saunders to Speak at TCN’s Fundraising Bootcamp for Early Stage Entrepreneurs11.15.2019
- Will Bernat, Jeremy Halpern, and Josh French to Speak at The Capital Network’s 2019 Fundraising Bootcamp for Post-Seed Entrepreneurs03.26.2019
- Jeremy Halpern, Will Bernat, and Josh Gray to Hold Office Hours at The Capital Network’s 2018 Fast Track Boot Camp for Early Stage Entrepreneurs12.14.2018
- Will Bernat and Chris Lindstrom to Present on Employee Compensation and Equity at The Capital Network Event11.06.2018
- Will Bernat to Present on Early Stage and Venture Capital Term Sheets at Social Enterprise Greenhouse Event10.16.2018
- Will Bernat to Present at Nutter's Food and Beverage Roundtable on Demystifying Early Stage and Venture Capital Term Sheets04.05.2018
- Will Bernat and Chris Lindstrom to Present ‘Employee Compensation & Equity: Preparing for Growth’ Workshop11.15.2017
- Jeremy Halpern and Will Bernat to Present at The Capital Network’s ‘Fundraising Bootcamp for Early Stage Entrepreneurs’11.08.2017
- Will Bernat Presents ‘Venture Fast Track 2017: The Terms of Term Sheets’ at the Carroll School of Management at Boston CollegeBoston College, 10.23.2017
- Jeremy Halpern and Will Bernat Present ‘Negotiating Commercial Agreements for High Growth Food & Beverage Entrepreneurs’04.04.2017
- Will Bernat Presents ‘Negotiating Commercial Agreements for High Growth Food & Beverage Entrepreneurs’02.07.2017
- William Bernat presents at MIT Enterprise Forum’s “Invest Smart Class – for Budding Angel Investors”01.28.2016
- William Bernat serves as panelist at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) seminar “How to Draft Incorporation Documents & LLC Agreements”07.31.2013
- 03.19.2020 | Legal Advisory
- Fintech in Brief: FDIC Signals Pending Decisions on ILC Applications and Proposes New Rules for ILCs and their Parent Companies03.18.2020 | Legal Advisory
- 03.12.2020 | Legal Update
- 02.26.2020 | Legal Update
- 02.13.2020 | Legal Update
- 12.18.2019 | Legal Update
- Doing a Deal with the 800 lb Gorilla: Key issues for small food and beverage brands taking strategic investment05.23.2018 | Article
- 02.16.2018 | Article
- 02.02.2018 | Article
- For Food & Beverage Entrepreneurs, Financing Deals Often Come In More Flavors Than Just Vanilla: Insights from Nutter’s Will Bernat10.20.2016 | Legal Update
- 03.04.2016 | Legal Update
- October 2014 | Article
- Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Excellence in the Law Awards, Up & Coming Lawyer, 2016
- Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Stars, 2010, 2016-2019
Education & Admissions
Suffolk University Law School, J.D., magna cum laude
Providence College, B.A., summa cum laude
In the Community
Will serves on the partners’ committee of, and is a frequent lecturer and panel member at, The Capital Network, a nonprofit organization that brings together investors and startup experts to provide hands-on education and personalized mentoring to young entrepreneurs to help them navigate the fundraising process.
- Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Excellence in the Law Awards, Up & Coming Lawyer, 2016
- Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Stars 2010, 2016-2019