VP @ Rocket Homes. Digital Product Strategy Exec. Web Analytics Expert. New VC Investor. Host of Millennial Exec Podcast.
This is a common feeling at the very early stage of a new venture. In my view you have three options that each have pros and cons:
1. Role out with the limited platform that you have and do everything you possibly can to improve the platform yourself. If you can prove market validation, then you can much more easily raise money or create new partnerships that will enable you to pay developers, instead of giving away a huge chunk of equity.
2. Find the right person to truly partner with and be happy to share the equity with them, since in the long haul you believe you can build it together. If you do find yourself in this situation, then you still should protect yourself by having legal agreements in place that makes the equity slowly vest over time for your new partner in case they either don't meet your expectations or leave before you reach a successful outcome.
3. Hire on contract, meaning create clear terms that you will pay a certain amount for the developer(s) reaching specific benchmarks on the platform. I would not hire anyone hourly that you don't already trust. This option means you will not be stuck giving away equity or cash in the long-term, but gives you a way to get over this current barrier.
None of these options are perfect and in one way or another I've actually tried all of them with varying results, both while at a large company and starting my own site. The key is that you have to be realistic with yourself and your priorities. You need to either hustle much harder and feel comfortable rolling out a weaker platform temporarily (option 1), give away equity (option 2), or pay for development (option 3). In all cases there are ways to protect yourself against some of the risks, but there is no way to do this without taking some risks. If it was easy more people would be doing it!
Feel free to book a call with me to get into more specifics, I can help guide you through this situation.
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