What is the best way to find full stack mobile developers who are willing to work with me for equity, and what is fair compensation?

I am an entrepreneur in Palo Alto who wants to build a mobile app. I am not sure how to go about finding developers who would be willing to partner with me for equity. Advice welcome.


It's highly unlikely that you will be able to find competent full-stack mobile developers willing to work with you for equity, but if you do, "fair" compensation would be 50% or more of the equity in the Company.

Approaching any developer with just an idea, diminishes your credibility as a potential co-founder. Here's why: If you're non-technical, you must show a "relentless resourcefulness" in moving your idea forward. This means finding the money necessary to get an MVP or even click-able prototype completed to show that while you might not be technical, you have the ability to raise money, and have enough product sense that you can articulate that into a prototype. If you can't raise or spend the relatively small amount of money required to successfully build a prototype, what evidence are you providing that developer that you are going to be able to create value for the business long-term?

Full-stack mobile developers (although this is often quite a misnomer) are one of the most in-demand skill-sets of all Silicon Valley companies. That means that you're competing against established companies that can pay top dollar, and still provide meaningful equity incentives as well as recently funded startups who have further along the road in turning their idea into reality.

I would suggest that you look at hiring contractors (I know of some great mobile dev shops that are reasonable) to build your first version. Expect to go solo at least until you have some form of early prototype. Then, you're in a much better position to attract a technical co-founder.

Happy to talk you through any of this at any point.

Answered 6 years ago is a great place to start because they do some vetting. Forgive me for assuming, but it sounds like you have an idea, and need someone else to build it. If I were that developer, the baseline would be 50/50 and I would want to know that you were going to work as hard as I do. Be aware that as soon as you have revenue, bring on other founders on an equity only basis gets harder, not easier. So pick this person(s) wisely. In most cases, their goodwill is all you have to get you funded.

Answered 6 years ago

Giving out Equity of your company is tricky. Equity should not be given freely and not to everybody in your company. If you are giving an Equity, then vesting is the key, with a cliff of at least 1 year. I would avoid giving equity to people that you don't know, especially, to developers whom you will yet get to know. Partner and give Equity only to your trusted friends, and colleagues, whom you really know and trust. Hire developers/contractors. Use Upwork as a great resource. You can find a great talent there. If you don't have money to hire a freelancer (developer), use your Entrepreneurial skills to create another revenue stream, or find a job, bootstrap the first simple beta version to see whether people want your app in the first place.

Answered a year ago

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