Should I search for a web developer/code business partner?


I am in the process of building a B2C online to offline based web service. The service itself is built through contracts that are established offline which are sold to consumers online. I have the business expertise from a couple of previous start-ups but I am wondering whether it is worth searching for a coder/web developer business partner for this particular startup as it would require coding/seo/development that I could not do myself.

I have a few options that I could go to a freelancer/company and get the site built, pay the required amount but then the way our service works, it needs to be updated on a regular basis with custom graphic design for each product.

It might be easier finding someone who can do this from the off so I can focus on the business side of things?

I am uncomfortable about giving away too much equity stake as all the market research has been done as it is my idea itself and I've done pretty much the legwork so it would only be a case of getting someone to build it and update it or simply update it. I wouldn't have enough capital to pay them a salary but is their other ways to get and keep someone on board, like profit share for a period of time until I can offer them a salary?

What do people think?


Partner Development Web Business

asked May 8 '11 at 19:33
16 points
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5 Answers


I think that it's smarter to have the tech people baked into the company. Development is an ongoing expense. You'll want to add features, browsers will get updated and screw things up, your programming language will get updated and screw things up. Whatever. We have a simple product at my company, but my co-founder still programs all day.

One thing you could think about is finding someone that has both design and programming skills. That kills two birds and brings more value to the equity you're giving up.

All in all, if you want to be in the commissioned sales business selling a product someone else built, that is a low risk career. Why be an entrepreneur? That career path is well established. If you want to build a company around a product, then you have to control that product. Nobody will care about as much as you.

On the equity issue, there is an interesting article about this her e. My sense is that you're being greedy. I don't believe in giving employees equity. For employees, we'll offer above market salaries and profit sharing. ON the other hand, some people deserve equity. Co-founders, i.e., someone that built a product without being paid, deserves equity.

answered May 8 '11 at 22:16
Ryan B
86 points


Since the development and design is going to be ongoing, you are probably better off having a resource within your company. So your two options are to either hire someone and pay them a salary, or give them equity in your company. You can't have it both ways.

Your reluctance to give them equity is understandable. After all, you started the company and you may not be comfortable giving someone else a stake. However developers don't like working for free, and the development aspect of any product can often be the bulk of the work. If this is the case, why shouldn't the developer get equity in the company? If they are working for little or no salary, and they are taking as much of a risk as you, then they should be compensated accordingly.

One option might be to begin development with a potential partner, on a contract basis. The idea here is you get the work done by someone who might be willing to join your company later. You get to work with the individual to gauge whether they will be a good member of the team.

answered May 9 '11 at 03:22
Brad Pineau
161 points


I would get key technical staff onboard for sure. Picking the right profile is a complete seperate question but at a high level. Yes you want them to be around long term, you want them engaged and you want them fighting for the same outcomes as you ... not fighting you for their own better outcome.

As your answer says 10=20% assgine to the first 1-3 technical staff would be the way to go. Putting one in ultimate control (the architect product owner) then a key support / user engagement and key problem solver / team lead.

These roles are critical, they are different personality profiles within the overall "developer" profile and you have to be careful selelcting the right one for the right position ... then making them all work together ...

Start with 1, developer with a goal of architect ideally, but make the "scale up" plan clear to them at the outset.

answered May 9 '11 at 10:00
Robin Vessey
8,394 points


Thanks for the comments guys, that's quite useful. I wouldn't say it was being greedy per se as a lot of the legwork has been done and it could be serviced through an off the shelf model but I agree with what you say. It is an ongoing expense and something I do need to consider. Is there a ball park equity figure one should give a way, I was thinking 10-20%? What do you think

answered May 9 '11 at 05:41
16 points
  • I think that is a good figure to bring someone in at. The main problem you have is who ... You don't want just a coder, you want a devloper who can grow to run a team, understand the business, write code, sit in meetings with key investors ... do lots of things. Most developers can't do this as they are so focused on the million micro problems. – Robin Vessey 13 years ago
  • The article I linked above actually has a sort of formula for dealing with this issue. I can't vouch for it personally, but it's an interesting approach that might guide your thinking. – Ryan B 13 years ago


I am a freelancer who have started couple of software companies which didn't do that well and have 10+ years of experience in software development/leadership. I am based near San Francisco. I take 3-4 clients a year since I do not need much too survive at this point. The companies I take are in your situation where I play the CTO/tech lead role without equity but cash.

answered May 9 '11 at 10:45
1 point

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