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A venture wants to hire me with founder status- the catch no salary or benefits for two years. How?

A venture wants to hire me with founder status- the catch no salary or benefits for two years. How does one survive?

43 Replies

Brian McConnell
23
3
Brian McConnell Entrepreneur
Head of Localization at Medium.com
There is a super simple answer to this. Companies don't hire founders. They hire employees. Employees get paid. They can't afford to pay you at all. Therefore they can't afford to hire you (or anybody else). Stock is nice, but most likely worthless, so unless there is cash compensation in the job offer, show yourself the door. While there is a < 0.1% chance you are missing the next Google, there is a 99.9% chance you'll be sparing yourself a lot of hardship for nothing by
Michael Leeds
3
1
Michael Leeds Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO & Founder
Ask for another option that includes salary, and compare the two. Via mobile
Rodger Cravens
5
0
Rodger Cravens Advisor
Veteran | MBA | Six Sigma Black Belt | Distribution / Logistics Consultant & Recruiter
Does a Founder not also get to choose how they spend their time? Maybe engaging during off hours (nights and weekends) to make a living to bridge the gap is the intent?
Michael Feder
10
0
Michael Feder Advisor
Founder and CEO at PrayerSpark; Finalist: Global Business & Interfaith Peace Award
To answer the question, "how does one survive?": (1) you take small side projects-- your cofounders will understand, since there is no money in the company for you yet; (2) you take a line of credit on your house- now, before you have no income to show the bank--- you do this as a founder, not as an employee, because you believe in the business enough to ask others to invest their money in it; (3) you sell off your valuable things on ebay- you do this as a founder, not as an employee, because you believe in the business enough to ask others to invest their money in it. Obviously, you are only becoming a founder because you bleed the business- you'd be willing to ask your friends and family for money, knowing they could lose it, and you'd have to face them after the loss. Founders put themselves on the line- including the prospect of having to sell their home, rent, and start again. Otherwise, becoming a founder, and asking others for money, is unwise.
9
1
X
Entrepreneur
If one can't survive without a salary, one ought to decline the offer and stick with the day job.
Jason Gibb
1
0
Jason Gibb Entrepreneur
Real Estate, Director & Business Development, MBA, CMA
What happens when they get funded? Series A? still same situation or do you get paid? Two years is a long time, and with no comp, that will not last. Building a business if hard and sooner or later you will be doubting your decision.
Bobbie Carlton
18
0
Bobbie Carlton Entrepreneur
Founder, Innovation Nights, Innovation Women & Carlton PR & Marketing
Agree with the answer above, "hire" is not the right word here - you don't hire a founder. Typically, you hear people talk about "bringing in" a founder. But that's not the question. The question is, how do startup founders survive when the startup is pre-revenue or all the money is going back into the company. There are many answers:
  • Be independently wealthy to begin with. You made your fortune previously.
  • Live off savings, your retirement fund or max out those credit cards.
  • Have a non-entrepreneurial spouse or partner who covers your expenses
  • Work a second (and sometimes a third) job. You wouldn't be the first startup founder driving for Uber. I know a lot of startup founders who do consulting jobs while building their startups
  • Get funding fast - find a VC to drop bags of money at your feet and give yourself a salary. Or Angel or Friends and Family funding.
  • Find a customer to fund the company and pay for you to build out your product
  • Cut your expenses to almost nothing. I know a startup CEO who secretly slept under his desk at the startup incubator he was participating in. He lived on the snack food at the coworking space (and frequented the many events.) His expenses were very very low.
  • Sell the vacation house, lakefront property, race horse, family silver -- or even take out a second mortgage or line of credit on your house.
Now you know why startups are seen as a rich person's game...few people who need a weekly paycheck can afford to not get one daily.
David Austin
0
0
David Austin Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
It all depends on what they need from you. Sometimes cofounders are needed because of their ties into key players. Sometimes it's for their expertise, so you're getting founder stock (or similar) as an advisor ... nice gig if you can get it. In both those cases they may not need you day-to-day as much as you think they do. Find out what they expect from you, then decide whether you can make it happen, or want to make it happen. They still may take you if you can only commit 10 hours per week, and adjust your ownership of the company accordingly. Go into this with both eyes wide open, and document everything and get a lawyer experienced in doing startups involved (not just any lawyer).
Rod Banner
3
1
Rod Banner Entrepreneur
Agent of Change at 3LA.com
That's incredibly easy. Don't take the job. There's nothing certain about venture except that it's only going to get harder in the next two years. I would wager you won't get meaningful payment ever. Rod Banner UK +44 (0) 7785 114400 US +1 (347) 871 4950 @rodbanner www.banner.net
Chuck Bartok
0
4
Chuck Bartok Entrepreneur
Marketing and Sales Manager at MD Building Systems of Florida, Inc
Speaks poorly to their appraisal of your talent. Maybe for 51%
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