How much should a technical cofounder be paid?


I have the following skillset: xhtml, js, jquery, css, php, C#,, mysql, oracle, etc.

I would be the tech. co-founder of a startup with 2 other co-founder (business end) and be the sole on-site technical person.

Position would be in the Tristate area (NY/NJ/PA).

I've read if you are even paid in a startup its usually less than industry going rate.

Anyone throw a ballpark figure?

Co-Founder Payments Partnerships

asked Jul 8 '11 at 09:27
229 points

4 Answers


This is a pretty cool founder equity calculator: Depending on each persons roles it calculates how important they are to the company and what their equity / % ownership should be. It's pretty neat.

So if you guys are all 1/3 partners then you will most likely all be getting paid the same, and probably dirt initially.

If you are a 'co-founder' but don't have equity / actual ownership in the company then you are an employee or contractor with a cute title. In that case you'll have to determine what you can afford to make now versus what your potential is down the road. It also depends on how bad-ass you are and what you would be making if you were not doing this venture.

I know start-ups that are funded out of pocket (like mine) and also start-ups that have financial backing of significant money that they can afford to pay people actual salaries at the beginning. So .. if you are a rock-star I imagine you would make around 80 - 125k normally in that market. So at a startup maybe 40 - 60, depending on if you are getting equity. If no equity then I would expect to get paid what you are worth / what you could get elsewhere.

answered Jul 8 '11 at 13:26
Ryan Doom
5,472 points


If you truly are a co-founder, I'd be worried less about what you're going to get paid and more about how you're going to make a product and generate profits, which will need to happen before you get paid anything.

Of course, if you have access to VC money or some other form of start up capital, you and your other co-founders should get paid what you can afford - which will vary for each company based on how much you earn.

This question is very much like asking "how long is a piece of string" and the answer will always be "it depends".

answered Jul 8 '11 at 12:49
151 points


Depends on equity you are getting and no. of hours you are putting in. Also depends if you have other sources of income and may not be able to pull in required 60 hr/week for startup. Also depends on their role and effort in the company. Search through this site, you'll find lots of similar questions.

answered Jul 8 '11 at 13:00
365 points


You and your technical co-founder should get paid the same thing. You two are co-founders. Your salary now is unimportant as long as costs are covered. Why cause problems over something trivial like your salary at the beginning of your entrepreneurial adventure. Seriously! Keep things equal for as long as you can and focus on building a strong working bond, a deep understanding of each others work style, and then a great business.

In terms of amount, (again, since you are co-founders) I'd suggest figuring out the minium that covers your bills, and have your partner(s) do the same. Then all of you take the higher salary (if you can spare a little cash). The one(s) spending less can save it in case you need to put it back in the business (you could get equity in exchange), or you can all do as you like. For the most part, however, it's important to save as much cash as you can until your business is stable and has consistent and recurring revenue.

Amount: ~$30-60k depending on your revenues and location.

answered Jul 11 '11 at 00:24
T. Brian Jones
101 points

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Co-Founder Payments Partnerships