As the only tech cofounder, should I quit my startup?

I’m 23, “CTO” and I joined the startup almost one year ago in September 2019. I moved to an other country and left my friends and family for this project.

– I’m barely getting paid since April
– nobody in the startup understand what I’m doing
– there is no organization, no transparency and no teamwork within the “team”
– we don’t know what we are doing, which is fine but the CEO refuses feedbacks from me and external advisors (startup programs) to improve our efficiency
– there is a huge gap between what we communicate and say to potential investors, and the current state of our team and product
– I feel deeply unhappy working there

– We are raising money, which means a proper salary soon if I stay
– Before raising money, the CEO will found the company again (I dont know the details about that) and I’ll finally get shares which I don’t have right now
– Money doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll get better

I’m actively looking for other positions, and I don’t know if I should quit now, or wait to get shares, or wait for the fundraising as I guess that a team in a tech startup without tech people will struggle more to raise funds.

  • Since you’re young take it as a valuable lesson – don’t work until your agreement is in writing. If your potential partners do not have the basic funds/access/knowledge on how to form legal entities and legally-binding obligations they have an extremely small chance of success to begin with.

  • From what you described, it feels like quite a dysfunctional team. Investors will be able to smell that, which will affect the chances of getting an investment as they usually invest in the team rather than the idea itself. But even if the funding comes through, the team is breaking apart, so that means it may fail and the equity will be rendered valueless.

    It sounds to me that you made up your mind of leaving and you are just thinking about how to get a return on your time. Since it's a tech startup, it's heavily relying on technical expertise, so you have all the negotiating leverage as the CTO. Without you, there is no product and mostly likely no funding that will come through as a result. Not sure what the terms were when you first got onboard, but use that to your advantage to renegotiate and have a real talk ASAP with the CEO and get something in writing to make sure you either get compensated for your worth when funding comes through, either in salary and/or equity, or you get paid partially right now in case the funding never comes through. You don't need to come across threatening, but you can most certainly make it clear that you need tangible reassurance of getting compensated and other changes that you'd like to see in this relationship going forward. Don't wait. Have that real talk now with brutal honesty. That's the only way it can get better.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    You may also like