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erlend_sh

4-5 startup developers evaluating revenue sharing. What's our best bet?

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Hi guys, I very recently enrolled in a team currently consisting of 4 dedicated individuals. Two programmers, Two designers. It is very likely that within 1-2 months time we'll also have a 5th; the art director. We all have the money to work anywhere in between part- to full-time hours every day of the week. Whether or not everyone will be committed enough to do so is still uncertain, and we haven't come up with better ways to measure "time-investment" than what's in plain sight: logging hours. Bottom line is we have a great game concept, we all seem in it for the long haul, and we're confident the game will bring in some revenue upon release. What are our options for revenue sharing between the 4-5 of us? what can we do (e.g. what to keep track of or make a set measurement for) to keep ourselves open and prepared for different options when the time comes to lay down the law? Big thanks in advance! Sincerely, ~ Erlend Sogge Heggen

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I would say that you need to formalise a process within which units of work will be created, allocated, and then evaluated to see if they are complete or not. Software like Trac or JIRA could help here, combined with a way for you all to discuss things in real-time if you're not co-located, such as instant messengers or Skype. At least this way your 'logged hours' are cross-referenced with tasks and the rest of the team can see and judge the work that is done. You won't end up paying for hours logged on something useless, and you'll also see when someone is taking too long over a task. Accountability and transparency are key.

Rather than getting honest appraisals of time/effort and paying proportional to that, you might consider instead opting for an equal share of pay and allowing people to negotiate the amount of time/effort to fit. The problem here is that the overworked guys will feel they get a raw deal and will want to shift some responsibilities to the others. The good thing about this is that everybody will be taking a good look at the project plan and doing their best to manage their workload and risk. But how well it works depends on the maturity of your group.

Ultimately there are only two groups of people who will decide if your arrangement is fair: firstly yourselves, and secondly any lawyers employed by yourselves! Your best protection against the second is to get clear and binding agreements from the first.

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Yes, what you need is a Collaboration Agreement. And you need to do that sooner rather than later.
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/article58.htm

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Alongside Trac and Jira, let me also suggest BaseCamp, which has a very simple, clean interface and may be more suited to your team; it's substantially different to a "heavy" interface like Jira's, and may be more usable right off the bat.

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