• If they don’t have an office (home offices don’t count)
  • If they don’t have a full-time administrative team… or at least an employee dedicated to administrative tasks.
  • If they don’t get you contracts within 36 hours of the term agreements (weekends are included because there’s no such thing as a weekend break for a real startup)
  • If they mention their lawyer, but don’t solicit your access to speak with said lawyer.
  • If their lawyer is a friend working for them pro bono
  • If they are a tech startup and are not profiled on CrunchBase
  • If they wrote the agreement they gave you and/or some of the fields in the agreement are from an old contract
  • If their startup consists purely of the founders and their friends
  • If the founders haven’t founded and/or worked in an executive role at a similar kind of company in the past

From my experience, any of these bullet points is a tell-tail sign that the startup will probably fail and that you will have issues/complications receiving the full amount of whatever compensation you are agreeing to, be it cash or equity.

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