Founder Agreement

Can someone suggest a good partnership agreement to use if I'm joining an existing start-up that already has an MVP?


March 2nd, 2017

A couple of my friends invited me to join them as the CEO of their company. They already developed an MVP, pivoted, and now want me to help them ensure the company's success with their new-and-improved product. I looked around the net for a partnership agreement that would be relevant for our situation, but only found templates for brand-new startups, or individual contributor agreements for those who join later. If anyone can point me to a template for, specifically a "co-founder" agreement that's adaptable for a situation like ours, I'd really appreciate!


March 5th, 2017

First, to answer your question directly, you should ask the company if they have one. While it's never a good idea to sign the "other guy's agreement," it might save you a lot of time.

Next, co-founder agreements are easy to find. Check on Angel investor websites to find one that you like.

Finally, if you feel strongly that you need an agreement, this may not be the right situation for you. I've been on both sides of this table and, in all cases, we've been able to reach an agreement using plain language and a few emails. While this may or may not be in your comfort zone, the more "formal" an agreement becomes, the more likely cheap lawyers have things to argue over. Think about how things may go wrong and whether or not that situation will move you to resort to legal action. If the answer is that you want to be part of this team, and trust that your new "co-founders" are not scum, then just exchange a few emails to document what is being promised on each side, in plain English.

Hope this helped some!

Good luck,



March 8th, 2017

Thanks Bob! Your insight is very helpful. I agree, if you don't trust your partners-to-be, it's definitely a red flag (and a no-go in my book). In my instance, I'm friends with the two cofounders, who happen to be married (so, no "original" founders agreement). The agreement in question is more of a confirmation of our mutual understanding of the multiple important "moving parts" we agreed to. Basically, I think the best option for me would be to take a standard co-founder agreement template, add a few tidbits confirming the specifics of my joining the team, and file it away until the IPO date :).

Thanks again for your reply!