“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” — Guy Kawasaki
You have a great startup idea? Cool! I’m sure it’s an awesome one. I’m sure it has much more potential than the millions upon millions of product ideas that people come up with every day, kind stranger. And I don’t even know what it is yet!
It’s so nice of you to invite me to work on it! Over a mass email to a startup listserv, of all places… I’m so lucky! I didn’t even see the message, but someone I’ve never heard of told you I’d be a good fit to work on your iPhone app. So it must be true! It’s so crazy how that worked out… I’m not even a mobile developer!
As a senior engineer at Google, there’s nothing I want more than to give up my six-figure salary, my free meals and my freedom to work on projects I believe in to go to work 80+ hours a week toward this idea that you just sketched out on a bar napkin. I’ll get a 5% stake in the company AND you’re buying me this drink? Well then I’m sold, partner.
What is it again? An app that figures out what time it is in every time zone? I’m sure you know that’s a standard function of literally every smartphone on the market… but I know your idea is going to be much, much better than the transformative data science tool I’m building internally at the ol’ Goog.
Don’t worry! I won’t complain about the commitment. I won’t stress out building the product while you, the “ideas person,” spend your energy thinking about all-encompassing efforts, like how you’re going to spend all that money this app makes you. The app that WE built! While I was slaving away at my desk and you were sailing around the Bahamas! OUR startup!
I completely understand why you, a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” and millionaire, aren’t interested in paying me a salary to build this. Because it all has to go back into the product, right? And because that home in the Hamptons won’t pay its own mortgage? I totally get it. You had the idea, so I understand why you get to live comfortably while I work for free for a piece of that sweet, sweet equity that I won’t see for at least 7 years.
In fact, why don’t I just give up my own home mortgage to finance the project while we’re at it? I’m sure that if my wife, my two kids and I live in my car for a little while, it’ll be totally worth it for us once our startup hits the app store and breaks a million downloads in 10 minutes. Because that happens for most apps, right?
And if we fail, then what do we have to lose? I mean, by the time my wife leaves me because I can’t support our family, there won’t be much else anyway. But then we’ll have a kickass story about failure and how great it is that we can post on StartupGrind! Oh man, that would really show her.
I mean, failure only happens to 90% of startups. ONLY 90%. But we have the one thing they don’t: passion! And passion is all it really takes, according to every startup guru out there. We have so much passion! We’re bursting with passion! We have passion coming out of our eyeballs! We’re giant, heaping blobs of PASSION!
So, in sum, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to build your app in exchange for equity. Go ahead and sign me up! I’d be thrilled to work with someone who clearly has thought this all out as much as you have. Oh, you’re not even paying for this beer? I understand — I’m sure you need that money to buy beer for the developers you want to work for equity on the other six startup ideas you have.
*Writer is not actually a senior engineer at “the ol’ Goog.”