I'm beginning a startup at my school. Right now its just me doing all the work, but i am gathering a team that will ideally be my co-founders. I wont be incorporating any time soon, but i will be working with at least 1 or 2 other people on a business plan for a competition here at school. Regardless of our success in the competition, it is a business i plan on following through with. As such, how do you think i should go about talking about equity, the company, division, and IP?
If you guys need more specifics about my project let me know in the comments and ill be happy to edit and include them.
Co-Founder Equity Founders Intellectual Property
Here are things I can think of -
Absolutely - you need to at least talk about it now, and draft up a founders' agreement (I wrote an article about this on my site) before any mis-understandings occur between you and the others involved in the project. Talk about what each person is expected to contribute, and what each person will get for that. There is more information in the article I linked to.
I agree that it makes sense to talk about it now, but I would suggest you don't try to come to any firm agreements until it's more clear what role everyone will have at the company.
I made the mistake of trying to start a company with some friends and we all decided to split the ownership evenly. When it became clear that two of us were contributing and one wasn't, it was kind of unpleasant changing our agreement even though we never signed anything.
I'm not at all saying you should put off talking about it, just make it clear that the discussion is based on expectations you all have, and those expectations may or may not seem realistic a month or two from now. Any assumptions you make now will almost certainly need revising.
You should take a look at this answer to get a better idea about what would go in a founders agreement. Tyler makes an excellent point about contributions. I would formulate some sort of plan and see who contributes. Then do a founders agreement with the people who actually made a contribution.