How to approach bringing a co-founder on board before seed, before cashflow.

I've been working full time for 6 months now to get an MVP finished. I've done all the design and coding work myself. The product was inspired by my Masters thesis, and instead of job seeking and paying down my loans like a sane person, I decided to spend my remaining savings on rent and dedicate all my time to this.

Now that I am close to being finished with the MVP, I'm preparing to move on to the validation and marketing phase, and hopefully incorporating a business, getting my first paying customers, and seeking some seed funding. And I've come to the terrifying realization that, despite busting my ass off 7 days a week, the hard work is just beginning. I need help.

I have a lot of people in my university network who I would love to bring on board, I know they are hard workers and great people. A few have voiced serious interest in supporting me.

I can't pay anyone, so I have to treat them like a cofounder-- they, like myself, are shouldering the risk of having worked hard for no reward. They are of different nationalities and we will likely end up working remotely. They are broke graduates like myself, so this will likely be seen as a side-hustle for them.

So I'm wondering how I can give them a fair and motivating offer, aside from selling them the vision I have (Huge market potential! Amazingly fun work!). I need to give them good equity terms. While their support will be extremely valuable, I'm afraid they can't put in nearly the time and effort I have so far.

So how do I manage the split? Do I say something like, "I promise you _% equity as soon as we achieve cash-flow or seed funding?" Should I get some stuff written on paper right off the bat?

Appreciate any advice or insights you have.

submitted by /u/brendanmc6
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