The creation of an original idea is only a small part of the work that needs to be done to develop and build a business off of an app. The problem is that you can’t do all the work yourself nor do you have any money to pay someone to do it for you.
You should start by doing all the things that you can do yourself. Things like designing your app and building a business plan are examples. Basically, you want to develop your idea as far you possibly can alone before bringing in new partners for a couple of reasons. First, it will be easier for you to attract partners with a further developed idea. Second, the more work that you do, the less you will have to compensate others for doing.
But, to get to your real question — what to do when you can do no more yourself? Well, then you will need to bring in some help. The question then becomes how do you pay your new partners with no money? You basically have two options, take on outside capital and use that to pay new employees or, like you pointed out, offer an equity share to new employees.
Your decision on which route to take will likely depend on how much work is left to be done at this point. If there is a lot of work left to be done, it may be harder to find someone willing to work for only a speculative return on an equity share. On the other hand, if your app is close to launch, a new employee may be more willing to work for the same equity share because it is less risky for them. Ultimately, though, it will be much easier to attract new employees if you have already received outside funding because you could pay them in cash.
As far as intellectual property, you are right, you will need to work with an attorney that specializes in IP. But, I would suggest that you first determine what it is you are trying to protect and whether it is appropriate to obtain that protection through intellectual property and if so, which form of IP protection should you seek. (In other words, ideas are not patentable)
I hope I pointed you in the right direction. If you are looking for an attorney to help with your business formation or intellectual property, you should check out. The attorneys on our marketplace have experience in all areas of business formation and intellectual property and the initial consultation is free. Our website is super easy to navigate and we offer a satisfaction guarantee on all projects. Good luck!