I have been dipping my toes into a web-based startup idea with two others.
They approached me with the original seed of an idea, but neither are developers. So I would be building the (fairly large and complex) product entirely, while they handle everything else (all the "business stuff", marketing etc.).
- Is it realistic to expect our three workloads to be similar/fair?
I could imagine if there were two developers and the third partner was handling all the business/marketing stuff it would work, but with two of them doing all of that I am struggling to see what they would be doing on a day-to-day basis while I am investing hundreds of hours of my time into this endeavour.
The concern is, if the project fails, I stand to loose a lot more time and energy than the other two, yet our equity shares would still be the same.
Is this a reasonable concern? Or am I underestimating the amount of effort involved in the marketing/accounting/"business" part of this endeavour?
If I slack of, it will be obvious, as the product will not progress. But if they slack off, how could I tell? (I don't expect them to, this is all hypothetical)
What should they be doing for the first X months while I am developing the product/there is nothing to show?
Clearly they will be involved in the development as much as possible, but beyond running ideas past each other there is nothing technical they can do to assist me.
- Is it uncommon for someone in this position to be paid up front as well as their share of equity?
(E.g. figure out how much time I will be spending, work this out as a $ amount, and call that my up-front investment/contribution, and ask the other two to make the same contribution)
edit: Here is a quote from this answer which summarises what I am saying:
I'm a Software Developer myself and starting entrepreneur. Every week I get 3-4 offers from business people who 'have great idea and just need a coder to implement it'. When people say "I'll give you 5% if you build this app for me" my answer is "What do you bring to the table that makes you own the rest 95%?". Most of them have nothing to say except for "Well I think I have a great idea". Guess what? The idea is worth nothing. The implementation - that's what really matters. And guess who's going to implement the biggest part?