Early Stage Company Development · Equity

How can you create a team with no money to pay them?

Jonathan Horsfield Founder with extensive sales experience in FMCG, SME and Startup, looking for a Cofounder

November 28th, 2018

Hi there,

I am in the planning phase of my business and I am starting to look for a cofounder or managment partners to work on the concept with, but i have no money to pay them. Has this been achieved successfully by anyone? Any support would be invaluable. Thanks

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

Last updated on November 28th, 2018

Of course this can be achieved. Moreover, it HAS to be achieved. If you pay them, then they're not co-founders (or managing partners, whatever that might be), they're employees or freelancers. Co-founders join startups in exchange for equity and, possibly, a promise of an eventual salary from future revenues or investments. Of course, to convince someone to join you (or to invest in you, which is similar in many ways) you need to prove that your concept can work with reasonable probability. In "entrepreneese" such proof is called validation.

I've written this article about different levels of validation.

By far the most convincing validation is to actually get real customers to pay for your product with real money. And yes, you can usually get there without actually making a real product, e.g. by implementing your concept manually (this is called "consierge MVP") or even to fake it in some way (this is called "mockup MVP").

Jason Thayer Startup Growth | Sales Performance | Tech Entrepreneur | Dad

November 29th, 2018

This is the main problem in startups. Without any angel funding you'll opt for a bootstrapping approach. For that you need the right kind of people who are interested in working for future returns. I typically engage companies with the promise to help them generate the revenue stream that will be used to pay for my services when the revenue comes in.

This approach requires the right type of business and if I can help make it fit onto one of the business models that works well. Feel free to reach out and PM me for more info!

Good luck with everything.



Jean Lee CoFounder of Creators Group

Last updated on December 6th, 2018

Yes. I found my cofounders and started a business with them within a month of knowing them. You have to network, share your passion about your ideas to people who will listen. Your passion will be infectious and people will know what you're about so they know how to help you. If they come across someone with similar passions, they will be like, "You should meet Jonathan. Let me introduce you two." Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. Someone can steal your idea, but the way you would execute it would be entirely different. If no one steals your idea, it might not have been a good idea or too hard to execute. Plus no one will be more passionate about your idea than you and won't execute like you will. If they do, then you would have been put out of business anyways. Listen to the How I Built This podcast series and listen to how these people found all their cofounders. A lot of them had just shared their ideas with friends, strangers and their passion would get some of them really excited and that's how it would often start. Try checking out Startup Weekend in your city. You'll find like minded people there. It's a start!

Diana Mubarak Cofounder-Account Manager

November 29th, 2018

Most people have the same dream goals and are dying to meet someone who genuinely shares it and is really really serious about it and wants to do it! Working with someone who wants the same goal is a million times easier then doing it on your own( most people feel). Believe that their are millions that would love to work with you on the same project and want to see it succeed with their own expense for the sake to see that this goal is achieved. Set the intention and with that you will start getting ideas on how to find them and they will start coming to you. Good luck.

Kasun Wedage Founder Software company innovating in the retail space

December 2nd, 2018

Hey man,it surely is possible.

do not jump right in and marry the wrong person. If you have a great idea look for someone in your inner circle to partner up with. You'll have to do lot of screening to see if they are in a state to do business in their life right now. Then don't have to share your golden idea, but you can start a discussion on starting something together and discuss some ideas. Doesnt have to be the golden idea. That would give you an insight of the drive the other party has. Because when you are at bar and pitch someone an idea to change the world they get all psyched about it but when he gets back to his life your project will hit the bottom of his priority list. This could kill the project entirely.

Best thing is to find someone to do something similar, and once realize there true bond, go for the big mission. Until keep work on the big project on your own. Good luck man..!!

Anatolii Stotskyi Founder "PriceForMe.com"

November 30th, 2018


Chris Cotter Creator of the world's first "mnemonic entertainment" system

December 7th, 2018

Yes, you must have a team. But not yet.

First of all, figure out how far you can take the venture with your own talent and your own money to hire talent on a project basis. Why? First, you preserve your equity. And secondly, because the further along you are, the more interest you will get from prospective partners.

To get partners you need to network. A lot. The easiest way is to join several co-founder organizations. Search for the specific roles as you need them in sequence to launch your venture. Obviously, you will target people who are qualified. But they also need to be true believers. This is going to be tough, and you need them to stick with it through thick and thin, or your time and equity will be wasted.

And by the way, you don't need sales yet but you must have a website. You need something tangible to suggest that you are serious about what you are doing. You need to give prospective team members something to touch, feel, etc and to know that you are for real. Because if you don't even have that...you are not for real.

In my case, it took writing to thousands of prospects in these co-founder organizations until I created my team. Typically I would get about a 1% response to my letters, and then I had to evaluate them as partners. My team is made of legal, tech, A.I., marketing, fundraising and brand experts. But they all have one thing in common: they really BELIEVE in the mission of our venture, which they read about on the website.

By the way, it took me four years to build the first product and assemble the team. I made plenty of mistakes on the way. There's one mistake that I didn't make, and here it is:

Ask yourself: Is this idea really unique? Does it really serve a purpose in the marketplace? Are you willing to empty your bank account and sacrifice everything for it? If not, then you, my friend are NOT a true believer. Stop now and save yourself the countless hours of worry, financial duress, marital strain, etc. that launching a new venture entails.

In my case, the knowledge that I had created something truely unique, that serves a real, practical purpose, that people respond to immediately ... that's the thing that has kept me going when most people would have given up. And now it's all coming together.

I hope that helps. I would wish you luck, but mainly I would wish you endurance.

Paul Kirkaas Great full stack developer/architect/CTO with lots of Start Up experience

Last updated on December 5th, 2018

Conceptually easy - hard part is to find the right partners.

I truly believe everyone going into a risky startup needs at least two qualities - a true belief and dedication to the startup - and a sense of realism that nothing is guaranteed & you have a backup plan - a way to take care of your life & family while you pursue your dream.

I think it's hard to find the right partners who both have the dream, and have the competence to not get lost in the dream and make sure they can take care of business regardless.

Hard to find, but if you do find them, respect them, have complementary skill sets, I think that's your best chance forward.

Personally, I have a fine full-time job leading a web dev team, make enough to take care of myself & my family. But I also have an extra 10-20 hours a week to put into an exciting side project with no need of any immediate payback. Sweat equity. The real key for you is to not be too greedy. Everybody has great ideas, the key is to make them work. That takes a team. So you want a team without money to pay them? Ber very generous with the equity you share. If there are three of you to start, divide it 3 equal shares. If they have the skills to get you off the ground, they are worth their share, especially if you can't pay them.

Shivam Sheoran CEO at Greytics

December 8th, 2018

Definitely Jonathan, you can approach passionate person to work with on equity basis. I understand, its hard to find out someone with same thoughts and way of working. but it's not difficult. Quora and Linkedin are good medium to find out a co-founder.

and Let me know, if i can help you with any Digital Marketing and Branding thing.



AJ Johnston Owner at Law Office of Ann E. Johnston

November 28th, 2018

I did not figure out how 2 do it successfully. I did manage 2 find some knowledgable people to help and advise. The resources are out there, if u look.