Hello all, looking for advice on this. So my good friend of nearly 18 years recently approached me with an idea for a mobile app, which he has been fairly convinced would make it to a very popular level.

With myself being an experienced web developer, designer, marketer, and programmer, he's been asking for my advice on these topics. Throughout our conversations however, I've come to believe his idea may indeed be lucrative and am leaning towards possibly getting involved in making it happen.

However, being an experienced developer, it also occurred to me in our talks that I could technically build, design, partially program, and bring to market this entire idea sole-handedly if I really chose to (perhaps with some outsourcing and management). I'm not sure what the role of my friend would even be, as he has no capital or technical skills, only the idea and a willingness to help.

I've gone through several startups in the past where the partnership came under stress due to me taking on the brunt of the workload and the other members' roles becoming increasingly in question, so this is definitely a huge concern for me.

And finally, it has just turned out that this idea isn't my friend's own idea either, but rather of his other friend (who I only peripherally know), and who is already interested in contacting me to discuss percentages of ownership and profits. I am interested in getting involved but these two people, particularly this new third party, would have literally nothing to bring to the table, other than having thought of it.

Would love to hear any opinions on how to ethically proceed under such a situation.
I haven't been through this situation myself, but here's my two cents: If they (your friend, and your friend's friend) have literally nothing to bring to the table, you can't go into business with them. You'll only become more and more frustrated as the idea comes to fruition and you end up running the business on your own, with zero help and far less "income" than you otherwise would've received. (I put "income" in quotes because you have to be extremely careful when choosing to pocket money from your business's beginning stages.)

You have a couple options here. You can not pursue the idea at all, which doesn't seem like a path you're willing to take. You can double-check that neither of them bring anything to the table; I mean, have you actually met your friend's friend? How do you know he won't be excellent at marketing? Lastly, you can take the idea and run with it -- without them. But be prepared to lose a friend.

Best of luck.


Of course, you might also get sued if you run with the idea solo.

Might be worth talking to the friend of the friend to see what percentage of the profits he would want if you're going to do all the work.


Serial entrepreneur, Investor, Mentor
This seems pretty black and white to me. If he's a friend of 18 years, you don't take the idea and run with it without him. As for the friend of the friend, if it's truly his original idea, that is definitely worth something.

In my experience, the hard feelings that come about from someone not contributing are the result of not having thoroughly discussed expectations in the beginning. If you go into it knowing your role and those of your partners, I don't see why you would feel slighted by the structure. If you think you will feel that way, don't do the deal. You have to look at what you think the end result will be and if it's worth your time or now. If so, great; if not, move on.

My advice: Either partner with them and be happy for the opportunity, or come up with your own awesome idea and make it happen.
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