Congratulations Liz! What an exciting time for you.
Building momentum in a new idea is hard. Well done!
I think it is wonderful that you are thinking about addressing one of the hardest issues that most co-founders face.
Neeraj has some excellent points around structure and legalities. I would like to offer you another offer another point of view.
Much like marriages, founding teams have their own rhythms. So I would definitely use advice from experienced folks as a starting point, however remember that in the end the only strategy that matters is the one that works for both of you.
That being said ,I urge my peers to have hard conversations about Risks and contribution sooner than later.
Financial risk is rather simple, it's the perception of opportunity cost that gets tricky.
Allow me to explain with an example:
Independent of how much money do you have or need , if two co-funders each give up a job worth 100K, then both are taking equal risks.
However 100K job at Google and 100K job at an unproven start-up have very different opportunity costs.
There are many other variations to this equation. So I urge my pears to discuss this issue come to an agreement upfront.
Leaving things open to interpretation is one of the major causes of breakdown of founding teams.
Contributions: Resources and Skills
When quantifying contributions, I've found that it is much easier to break down the tasks that need to be done and their value to the business.
Similar exercise can be done with resources, which include funds, times, talent, network etc.
I believe that objectively thinking about challenges and resources helps all involved develop a realistic understanding of what each player brings to the table.
Start-ups are hard, and things get tense. So hard conversations are a must. Their is no silver bullet, other than complete transparency and trust.
Hopefully having these conversations will help you guys become a stronger team.