When to bring up comp?


Master Don Juan
Jun 28, 2015
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I used to work at a VC fund but have since moved on.

However one of the startups I worked with has just managed to raise seed capital (c. $500k) and need a CFO.

They haven't directly mentioned the position to me since January (since they weren't able to raise), but the CEO has asked me to help them with a finance related requests (like cash flow modelling, establishing accounting systems and controls, etc)

Don't want to seem to venal, but also don't want to work for free.

When should I bring up comp? We're supposed to have another call later this week but we are already emailing one another.

Any work would be done remotely and it wouldn't be a full time role at the moment.


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Master Don Juan
Jun 2, 2012
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I think such a serious work cannot be called "Help" if they want help in creating their accounts tree they can open youtube and watch that, but if they want a professional to work with them then they have to pay for .
Now if you want to become their CFO, maybe it is good opportunity to demonstrate how good you are at this, and eventually they will hire you as CFO. otherwise , just just be the advisor not the executer , if they ask you to take decisions tell them you are not executive , then they might ask you to join as CFO


Don Juan
Sep 16, 2015
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Downtown LA
Don't do anything for them until you're official at the company as the CFO. Discuss comp when the CEO gets serious in his talks about making you the CFO. Seems like he's floating around, talking to you informally, and trying to extract free work from you. When he can actually say he wants to make an offer, that is when you ask about compensation naturally.

$500k is nothing for seed capital. They'll burn through that tiny bit of money like nothing. Going from a VC fund where you made a solid salary to a start-up that's trying to survive on raising another round of capital is a HUGE divide.

I highly doubt they can offer a 6-figure salary on $500k seed capital and when they're trying to get enough cash to survive by raising money...not sustainable to me. The CEO will sell you on the dream of what's possible (company vision) and offer equity (it better be in whole digits i.e. 3%, not 0.3%) to try and make up for a lower salary. It's all fluff. Most start-ups WILL fail.

Don't work for free. They have to pay for your work. You have to ask yourself, do you genuinely believe that the company can make it big when there's a very low probability of success? If you're trying to find a role in between jobs, I'd skip. If you truly believe in the company, negotiate aggressively on salary and equity. My gut feeling though tells me that they don't have enough money to pay you a reasonable salary you'd accept coming from a VC firm salary and the CEO would try to offer you more equity over cash, which they don't have a lot of.