So, I left a well paying corporate job to join an early-stage startup. The founder brought me in as co-founder, and gave me a significant chunk of equity (vested over 4 years). The agreement was that both of us would work 80% of our time on the startup, and have the ability to focus 20% on other projects to help us cover expenses. We have one investor who is working with us almost full time. Him and my partner have known each other 35 years.
I’m the only one being paid living expenses (several thousand dollars per month). As soon as I joined, the team dynamics changed. The investor and my partner tend to spend their time doing all the ‘fun’ stuff – spending time at breakfast and lunch meetings and making connections. I’m being asked to do all the hard work. Whenever I bring up the topic of how the entire team needs to focus on product market fit, my partner repeats that he’s counting on me to handle that side, as well as handle growth of the user base. This makes no sense to me… that is pretty much the entire business! There isn’t much else to do (other than fundraising) until we have product market fit, and have demonstrated traction.
I believe in the idea and am happy to do the work, but I’m not happy to have to do all the work. I also feel like my partners don’t want to include me in meetings they have with other people. A couple of times, I’ve brought large potential partners to the table, and have found myself cut out of the conversation/relationship that I initiatied.
I go back and forth on whether I should quit. I see my partner’s point of view – he raised the initial money, and spent about $80K of his own money on this. And his relationship with the investor goes back a long way. But I feel exluded/not respected by my team. Out of the three of us, I’m the only one who’s ever done a tech startup before. I feel I have important stuff to contribute in terms of direction-setting of the company, yet feel like the other two make the decisions ahead of time, and then just bring it up in front of me and act like it is a team decision-making session. In short, I don’t trust my team, I don’t feel respected, feel like I’m doing the hard work but getting none of the fun benefits of meeting potential investors, potential partners, etc.
Would like other’s perspectives on this.