Idea vs Development

by | Startups

Q: Who gets more equity? The person who brings the idea or the one who develops it?

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that “Genius is the ability to put into effect what is in your mind. There is no other definition of it.”

There is so much more to developing an idea into a product than just software engineering.

One of the biggest fallacies is that if a leader can just share their great idea, that someone else can go and make it.

That is one of the reasons why Apple struggled during the years that Steve Jobs was kicked out. Steve understood that “there is a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product.”

No idea ever survives first contact with customers. There is an evolutionary process where the idea is shaped and grown during its development.

There are two types of development. There is product development and customer development. The two are intertwined. In order to develop an idea into a product, you have to do this dance between tradeoffs around the product. You come face to face with hard limits (be they money, time, technical debt, etc.) and you have to make decisions around what to do but especially what NOT to do. In the process, you learn a LOT about both the customer and how to solve their problems.

Taking an idea through customer and product development into a deployable and marketable product means discovering and clarifying a continually shifting set of puzzle pieces and then finding an elegant way to combine them that is differentiated from the competition and yet solves existing customers’ problems.

Yes, you need a developer and you need to market it. But you are skipping the majority of what true product development consists of in the middle.

Who is going to do the product and customer development that goes beyond the technical execution?

How you split equity will depend on:

  • Who is paying for it (in money and in time)
  • Who is doing the customer/product development
  • Who is doing the software engineering
  • Who will ultimately sell it
  • Your experience doing the above things (someone who has successfully been there and done that will be worth more than someone untested.)

Original question on Quora.

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