scipreneurs #scientists-entrepreneurs #equity

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👨🏻‍🏫 Are professor good co-founders for startups? Should they take equity? The hard truth about hard truths few discuss openly...

I believe professors can bring a lot of value to a startup because they open doors, but they seldom are good entrepreneurs.

Having a professor on board opens the door to applying to cooperation grants, they can be natural first-users, first-testers of tech.

For a professor, putting 'co-founder' in their CV's increases scholarly recognition, and is a relatively cost-free title to give to someone.

However, I also strongly believe equity should be split based on future commitment to a company, not past achievements.

In all this years, I've met only one professor who quit his job to join a startup. Generally speaking, academic scientists are trained to be risk-averse. It means their future value to a company is rather small.

I strongly believe academic co-founders should take no more than 5~10% equity in total.

Owning more dilutes the recognition of the people who take the risk and put the time and energy to push companies forward.

Taking less, risks professors never becoming catalyzers for the creation of the company.

However, what is the real reason of an academic holding equity?

If it's for monetary gain without risk, they already have licensing agreements. If it's for recognition, calling yourself co-founder does not require ownership. Plus, shares in a company should put them in a perpetual conflict of interest.

Is it possible that professors overestimate their value for the business?

I would love to hear your take on the matter, and I know it can be sensitive. My messages are open, just send me your story.


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Aquiles Carattino
Aquiles Carattino
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