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How do I appropriately exit a project?

I have gotten involved with at least one startup too many. I need to cut back on my commitments, and I want out of this one (not that it is bad, but I'm more interested in my other projects). They've expressed a desire for me to be CTO, and the longer I help them, the more I worry they aren't developing their relationship with the person who really will take the role. Also, the time commitment is creeping up. I've told them that I worry I'm slowing them down, and I offered to help find a replacement. How much time is reasonable to give them? I've only worked with them for about 3 months, have no equity or pay, and haven't really given them much of my time, but the pressure is starting to increase. (The responsibility right now is managing the development of a tablet/google-glass based surgery app.)

6 Replies

Daniel Caplin
3
0
Daniel Caplin Entrepreneur • Advisor
Vice President of Services at WhatCounts
If you have no equity or pay, then you really don't "owe" them anything. Be honest and fair with them and express that you need to bow out but will help them through a reasonable transition period.
Geoff Whitlock
1
0
Geoff Whitlock Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder and President of Surround
Be honest. The sooner the better. Thanks.
Michael Barnathan
0
0
Michael Barnathan Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder of The Mountaintop Program, Google Alum
Echoing what the others have said. Let them know your concerns about staying longer in the role, help them get ready to find a replacement, and set a clear deadline at which point you're going to bow out (this is important because if you choose a project milestone instead, you run the risk of the project getting delayed, and ending up in much longer than you planned to be).
Vijay Goel, MD
0
1
Vijay Goel, MD Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)
I think you all are being too nice. If you have no agreement, no wages, and no equity, then you're just free labor with no strings. That can be fun and all and a good way to develop relationships, but shouldn't commit you to anything.

Be firm but nice. If it all falls apart because you leave, then they didn't have anything in place to begin with.
Juston Brommel
1
0
Juston Brommel Entrepreneur • Advisor
Growth Strategist & Advisor to CEOs
Stand in your truth - which is your power - and manage their expectations responsibly.

It sounds like you are likely violating a universal principle of mis ownership, or the taking on of others responsibilities.

Regardless, You have already given generously and it is important to honor yourself first and your other/primary commitments.

Great advice already. Perhaps this will help make your decision and plan of action easier.

+ Juston


Jonathan Bond-Caron
0
0
Jonathan Bond-Caron Entrepreneur
Founder at GOL Network
Strongly agree with Vijay, no agreement, no wages, no equity and you've alreadycommittedsome time... get out of there.

They should make you an offer you actually deserve. Follow your gut, they might be using you as freelaboruntil theyfind someone else (as you say). No need for a transition period, some people are highly manipulative, don't feel bad.

Take care of it sooner than later.
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