i am here to start a small discussion for the given topic, as i am in the position right now and try to make a decision which turns out to be harder than i thought.
Back in 2018 i joined a very promising startup (SAAS product), as the two founders were searching for a tech-founder. Back then, it was just the two founders with their idea and a good network of people, which helped a lot to find paying customers today. I think it is a great product - i love the idea.
I own no share in the company but got paid a small amount of money for the past half year for my time investment (part-time) and when starting, we signed a contract that the code belonged to me.. The other two founders got paid by a startup incubator and worked full-time. Back then, because we did not know each other, we signed a contract that states the code is my property until they would buy the code from me.
The current state of the product exceeds the MVP i had finished in the third quarter of 2019. Today, it features many more functionalities, a dashboard for monitoring and controlling everything that runs the business and more.
We are currently looking for an investment of 500-600K USD, are already talking to VCs and Angel Investors and have paying customers. This would have not been possible without the work the other two guys did. But also not without the product i built.
I hope this explanation features enough background information.
Now to the problem: as we are talking with investors it looks like we will have quite a lot working capital soon, which we have not had in the past year. This also means that we will be able to pay us decent salaries. But now there is this discussion about the product ownership. One of the founders asked if i still wanted to get paid for the product i built because they wanted the product to be owned by the company, which is of course crucial for the business and should actually not belong to one of us in the long term.
As i think of the problem, it does not feel right to give my work away for free as they could possibly sell the company without me getting anything. Sure, these are some negative thoughts but i learned my lessons in the past... Furthermore, i invested much time in this (spare time, after my main job) and this is definitely not rewarded enough by the small amount of money i got paid.
On the other side, as i plan to work there full time, i do not want to take out much money that shortens our runway right from the beginning. If i had built all this for a client of mine, this could be easily worth 60-70K.
I really appreciate any constructive thought on this! Thanks in advance.