How to be worth your 0%

I was contacted to be a mentor for a graduating student who wanted to work at a startup, something I was happy to do. But the first question he asked me when we met was “What percentage equity should I get? Because I don’t want to get screwed.”

I almost ended the meeting right then.

If your first thoughts are about how to get what you think you deserve in equity, then maybe you’re going into this for the wrong reasons. If you have minimal experience to boot, that’s even worse.

But I did finally suggest a nice round number. Zero percent.

The chance that equity you are granted is worth anything is slim enough. So you better work somewhere that you’d be excited about, learning and happy, even if you got 0%.

Funny thing is, when the meeting with that student finally ended I’m sure he went away thinking, “man, what’s Paul’s problem?”

Never heard from him again. Don’t be that guy.