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Unread 11-05-2015, 03:04 PM   #1
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Cutting out a friend and partner

I am in the very early stages of making a startup. So early as in none of the paperwork has been done yet. As we get further I have started considering a number of things ... I'm getting ahead of myself.

The project is my brainchild. I have two partners:

Partner A: We were brainstorming ideas for a course, this was one of them. In the end we didn't do it for the course (professor didn't like it), but we still went on to work on it on our free time. A is a super nice guy. I have worked with him in most of my courses on my Masters. On the other side he has the exact same competences than me (as in the stuff he can do, I can do too. I have a stronger technical background.).
Partner B: I brought him into the team because he is a genius in what he does. His knowledge and intelligence make everyone else look like a child at the events we have attended.

Partner A lives in the same city as me, so it has been nice to have someone around for different events. Partner B lives 3 hours away, so we mostly work over Skype. He is moving to the same city in half a year.

I have done pretty much most of the work so far, which is about 20 hours per week. They have collaborated maybe 6 hours per week.

Next year we are working on our thesis (all 3). I am going to work on this project. Partner B is considering it. Partner A won't.

As I think ahead (specially when we "including I" have to pump serious money and time into this), I feel like Partner A doesn't have anything different to bring to the project. He is (sorry to sound so offensive) a lesser version of me.

This makes me consider if I should cut him out. In that case I would have to talk it out with Partner B and a lawyer. Because I would rather bring someone in with other competences (either ones we don't have in the team or to strengthen the hardest areas).

I have had 1 years of friendship with Partner A, we have visited each other and know a lot about each other. I would feel bad having to break that bridge. On the other side, he is already working on another startup, so he doesn't have much time for this one. He is also constantly getting offers from other projects to join. I don't have a single doubt that he could find a project where he could be more useful...

I, of course, want the best for our project. I am also willing to hear what Partner B has to say, as I consider him a key partner in this.

I just thought I would love to get the advice from you guys who are "neutral" before taking this further. What do you think?

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Unread 11-05-2015, 04:00 PM   #2
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It seems unlikely you have no use for duplicate skills. It lets you parallelize the work. But if he's got other priorities, he might not be interested in sticking with it anyway.

Sounds like you just need to talk about whether he's still interested, and if so, what he can commit. If he wants to stick with and you're comfortable with what he's committing, great. If he doesn't, figure out what, if anything, his current contribution is worth in terms of ownership/payout and resolve that before you go any further.
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Unread 11-05-2015, 11:49 PM   #3
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Hmm... that is true.
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Unread 11-06-2015, 08:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobthecockroach View Post
It seems unlikely you have no use for duplicate skills. It lets you parallelize the work. But if he's got other priorities, he might not be interested in sticking with it anyway.

Sounds like you just need to talk about whether he's still interested, and if so, what he can commit. If he wants to stick with and you're comfortable with what he's committing, great. If he doesn't, figure out what, if anything, his current contribution is worth in terms of ownership/payout and resolve that before you go any further.
This.

He may not have placed the same level of value on the project as you have (like you said, it is your brainchild), so he may not see with the same level of importance as you do. But it doesn't mean he's not valuable to the project. Having someone else with your same skillset is valuable because it lets you split up the workload. Like a multi-core CPU, it would allow your team to handle more things at once. But, like Bob said, you should definitely talk with him about it. Let him know what sort of commitment you need for the project, and ask him if he's willing to commit that amount. But understand that any kind of partnership requires understanding and compromise.
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Unread 11-06-2015, 10:13 AM   #5
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Good points, worth taking into consideration
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Unread 01-14-2016, 06:19 AM   #6
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A bit of an update on this. We are right now signing the final papers to establish the company (as in I am sending a few e-mails every day back and forth with the lawyers and then pressuring the other 2 guys to sign it ASAP).

I am going into the project all-in in 1 week (full time, as I managed to sneak some of the work in as my thesis). Partner B is finding out if he can work on this for his thesis too. Partner A decided that he didn't want to do this for his thesis as "it was not something he could contribute to". He also just informed me that he won't have much time for the company in the next few months, because he is working on a thesis that is unrelated, he has a job in another startup as well as deciding to compete in running at a higher level (w. sponsors and stuff).

Now in our founders agreement we wrote down that 16 hours of work for the company is required every week (calculated over a period of 6 months). Another thing worth mentioning is that all partners have to invest around 2.333USD in half a year. I had this included for 2 reasons:

- If forced to invest a substantial amount, I can ensure that they are in it for good
- That money ensures that we can upgrade to another company type that is more respected

Now, this was started as a "lets take it one day at a time and see how far we get". But now I feel like I am investing a lot of time and energy to this.

Partner B has gotten much better at prioritizing this (even though he has exams at the moment). His skills are sooo perfect for this project.

On the other side I feel like Partner A is just keeping a foot in the door (to feel out if there is money in this). We have obligatory meetings with EU (which has given us a bit of funding) and every date they suggest he says he is busy.

I told him it was OK to focus on his studies this half year, but on the condition that he goes into it 100% in half a year (when we invest). I don't know if I should have said this. On one side, we are great friends and would love to work with him; but on the other, a guy that isn't really invested in this and that has skills that are not really vital to the project (as he points out himself) is dead weight. He has offered to make a landing page and a logo. No big tasks tbh. He is making the website on some drag and drop thing because he can't code. This means we are locked into hosting our website there.

I feel frustrated tbh. I don't know if I should move on and live with it, or draw a line. I will try and have a meeting with the guys and get things straight. I would welcome your thoughts...
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