A startup with no product, just an idea, wants to make me an employee for equity instead of pay. Should I be a cofounder?

There’s a lot of startups that have began with a dream and not much else, but that’s not the concerning thing here. There’s a few red flags that you should really consider before moving forward. 

What I would be most hesitant about is the lack of experience with ML that seems like a key component of the business. If you don’t know what you are doing and neither of the founders know what they are doing—how will this impact the success (or lack thereof) of the business?

Sweat equity, which is what they are asking you to do here is not unheard of, but things are usually a bit tighter as far as planning. If you choose to take the leap and join in on this business, at bare minimum you should create a business plan that outlines expectations for your role in the business as well as your payout later on.

You should get in touch with a startup attorney that can help you through the various phases of business and guide you around corners that may not be easily understood. Check out LawTrades to connect with an attorney that can assist you.

In the meantime, I also want to invite you to check out my free eBook How To Start a Business: An Entrepreneurs Legal GuideIt’s a good resource for all the legal stuff you may run into as a startup develops. Hope it helps!

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