Got an idea and a great business model, but how to satisfy developers based on future profit sharing?


I've developed an idea for a mobile application. Based on research, I believe this application has a great worldwide potential and could be commonly used basically in and kind of business.

I've discussed idea with a trustworthy developer (who is unfortunately unavailable for active participation in project) and he estimates the required time of development as 4-6 months for the basic version.

I'm lucky to be surrounded by potential developers who I trust, so I've already contacted one of the guys who is interested in starting with such a project. Although he's young and looking for new challenges, he's employed full time and he couldn't spend tons of hours to develop the basic version of the desired application. On the other hand, I'm very close to some young students with suitable programming skills who would eventualy want to join our team, but I have totally no idea of how much to offer them in order to start developing the basic version for which I believe could make a great success. Most of the work would still be done by the main developer, but students would have to support projects with smaller tasks.

So how to represent future profit sharing to developers? At the moment I don't have any realistic source of financing so sharing future profit remains the only possible compensation. I was thinking of spliting 50/50 with a head developer and then taking off equally from each two of us for every new student developer.

Please take in consideration, that an idea for the application is already well developed and a business plan is also documented. All start-up expenses (10.000€) and non programming activities (mainly marketing) would be my competence.

Thanks in advance for any sort of advice!


Ideas Profit Sharing

asked Jan 25 '12 at 09:11
Matej Zlodej
273 points

2 Answers


It sounds like you want someone to work on your idea for free. That would mean you're looking for a co-founder, not an employee. (Though not necessarily an equal partner.)

As far as students go, the cost really depends on where you're located at, as well as the quality of the person you want to hire. Look around on a local university's job board and see what other people in your area are paying CS/programming students.

Also, many students haven't ever worked on a real product before, even if they are seniors or grad students. You may be spending a bunch of time training them in things like version control, time management, project management, unit testing, communication skills... the list goes on. All of these have a cost that is beyond just the amount you pay them, unless you can find one of the few that has taken the time to get that kind of experience on their own.

The bottom line is, if you want people (student or professional) to work for free (or below market value) on your product, you'll probably need to treat them like a co-founder to some degree. That means a relatively significant share of the company (it can wait to fully vest for several years), and selling them on the idea of the product and business. People won't work for free on a product they don't believe can be successful.

answered Feb 3 '12 at 11:15
3,465 points


I think you cold try...

  • Invite developers as part-time workers.
  • Select one as the leader and centralizer of the others work.
  • Make them your legal partners in the company and give them equity.
  • Implement a way to assign tasks and control their advance (as formal as possible)
  • As developers code, risking not being paid at the end, you should (I don't know how) take the other risks (financial, taxes, sues, etc.)
  • Give them the intellectual property freedom to do whatever they want if the startup fails.
answered Jan 25 '12 at 14:17
Nestor Sanchez A
690 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Ideas Profit Sharing