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I'm a college student who is interning at a startup company. My job as an intern is to help redesign and launch an app, so that it runs on Android as well as iOS. When I signed up for the job I was told that I would be working with the CTO to help navigate the existing codebase so the app could be rewritten. There has been very little communication from him because he is long-distance however, so I basically rewrote and redesigned it from scratch. Me and another intern (who joined recently) have been doing basically all of the work.

A couple of weeks ago I asked my boss if she'd be willing to discuss paying us developers a share of the profits from the app since we're doing all the work; she said yes. Any advice/tips you think I should take into account would be much appreciated. For example, I've gathered these concerns/feedback so far:

  • I should ask for percent equity instead of profit, to prevent her from jacking up the losses and avoiding paying us
  • The other intern doesn't want to be bound to this job via a contract (he's thinking of leaving sometime within the next year)
  • Should we insist on a permanent stake in the equity, or settle for a temporary (XXX-year) stake?
  • What percentage of the equity would be reasonable to ask for?

Please feel free to answer these questions; also, what other concerns do you think I should flesh out while negotiating the agreement? Thanks. (Leave no stone unturned; I'm going for a compsci major, I know next to nothing about business/finance.)

  • Just a personal experience - a friend of mine did some light work for a small startup and took his pay entirely in shares. A few years later that company was bought by google. His few hours of work were worth $4 million. You never know if your work is the next youtube. That was the company. If you don't really need the money, why not take the risk? If you're a programmer, you'll always be able to make money in case it doesn't happen to pan out through this outlet – Kai Qing Sep 5 '18 at 20:04
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James,

Wouldn't it be better to ask for a share of the profit say 20-30% for all of the work that you and the other intern has done other than ask for equity because as I understand that you are an intern don't know whether you are being paid there or working as a volunteer, but if you ask for equity then since you are not a fully employed by the company I don't see how you would recuperate with any income.

I suggest that you talk with your boss and keep all of the correspondence i.e. emails and phone calls if you have a phone call recorder on your phone as proof that the employer has promised you a share of the profit based on the work that you have done in case of a law suit (hopefully not but companies tend to take advantage of free labor).

Also I would like to state that while I am not a financial adviser I do have some experience in enterprise like you I am studying computer science at a university in London but when it comes to negotiating income related or monetary related matters I have a ton of haggling experience.

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