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.)

closed as primarily opinion-based by Ganesh Sittampalam Sep 5 '18 at 18:35

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 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


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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