The Grunt Fund: The Only Fair Startup Equity Calculator

A startup grunt

A Startup Grunt

To help you manage your very own Grunt Fund (AKA “Slicing Pie Model”), we have created a handy dandy excel spreadsheet that calculates each co-founder’s slice of the Pie based on the formula outlined in The Slicing Pie Handbook.

Access the Grunt Fund Founder Equity Calculator here:

The video below provides a quick overview of how to use the startup equity calculator:

A Better Online Startup Equity Calculator

Excel is wonderful, but it has limitations. Many Slicing Pie users prefer to use the online Pie Slicer founder equity calculator. It’s not free, but it has several important advantages over the Excel version including the ability to allow each contributor to add their own contributions (with appropriate permissions), records of each person’s contributions for auditing and analysis, a variety of reporting features, proper application of the Slicing Pie recovery logic for when someone separates from the company, and more!

Startup Equity Calculators for Co-founders

How Do You Calculate Startup Equity?

The entrepreneurship world is awash with startup equity calculating advice from smart, educated, successful, well-meaning people. Some of these people have distilled their wisdom into online apps that will help you and your team calculate equity for the cofounders. Some of them are even supported with research projects with input from dozens or even hundreds of real actual founders. There is only one problem: they are all wrong (except Slicing Pie).

The Fatal Founder Equity Split Flaw

The reason all cofounder equity calculators are wrong is that they all share one fatal flaw: they require the users to have the ability to accurately predict future events. The inputs are based on things like who’s idea was it (predicts that the idea actually matters, and the company won’t pivot), time commitment (predicts this won’t change), the importance of activity (predicts an individual’s productivity), I could go on, but you can check them out yourself. All other online equity calculators are based on traditional startup equity models which never work because it’s impossible to predict future events.

The Facts of Founder Equity Splits

Fairness is not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact. The good news—which is often overlooked—is that in business facts can easily be observed and quantified in terms of fair market value. Everything in business is quantifiable, and I mean everything. Time, money, royalties, commissions, finder’s fees, consulting fees, legal fees, software fees, supplies, equipment, maintenance; literally everything can be bought and sold for its fair market value.

Because you can observe and track everything’s fair market value, there is no need to guess or predict anything when it comes to creating a fair startup equity allocation. The Slicing Pie online Pie Slicer startup equity calculator helps track these contributions over time. Kind of like how accounting software track payroll and expenses paid, the Pie Slicer tracks the unpaid portion of the fair market value.

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have a basic understanding of how Slicing Pie works; the equity calculator makes keeping track easier.

Renegotiating Founder Equity Splits is Painful

If you base your equity splits on assumptions—either your own assumptions or those built into an ineffective startup equity calculator, you must go back and change your equity split. It’s easy to get someone to change the split if the person is getting an increase, but much harder if you are asking for a decrease.

Getting a cofounder to decrease their share of the equity is never easy and often involves the deterioration of important founder relationships and the involvement of legal intervention which can quickly deplete already small financial and time resources. I’ve heard some lawyers estimate that 60%-80% of traditional equity splits wind up in disputes that require legal interventions. These are the kind of splits created by most cofounder equity calculators.

Smart People with Good Intentions for Equity Allocation in Startups

I have yet to find a startup equity calculator that was not developed by a very intelligent person with the best intentions of helping hapless founders make good choices about equity. Many of them are experienced entrepreneurs with status, wealth, and success that exceeds my own, but the fact remains that they are providing the same kind of fundamentally flawed advice that everyone else provides.

The Slicing Pie Startup Equity Calculator

Slicing Pie, unlike traditional equity formulas, is based on what people actually do during the bootstrapping stage of a company’s lifecycle and is designed specifically to accommodate changes over time so that it stays fair. Our founders pie calculator, called The Pie Slicer, helps the team keep track of who deserves equity and how much. The tool automatically adjusts based on observable changes in team membership, commitment levels, financial commitments, and even changes in corporate strategy.

Unlike other startup equity calculators, The Pie Slicer easily accommodates new team members and properly adjusts based on the specific circumstances of a teammate’s departure. The Pie Slicer software always works because it is based on the Slicing Pie model.

Startup Equity = Startup Ownership

One last note about what the startup equity calculator should be calculating. Equity represents ownership. Equity, however, can mean different things to different people. For instance, there are often different types of shares that are referred to as "equity". A share is often defined in the stock purchase agreement and can come with different features and entitlements. A few possibilities include:

  • “Preferred” shares that get paid back before anyone else.
  • “Restricted” shares that are subject to vesting.
  • “Non-voting” shares that restrict voting rights.
  • “Common” shares which are basic shares without restrictions or special rights.

We recommend that you use the Slicing Pie startup equity calculator to allocate common shares which are the basic, non-modified class of share. This ensures that all of the initial owners are treated the same with regard to their type of ownership.

After series A fundraising the investors might introduce new classes or shares or new restrictions on existing shares, but these terms will affect everyone who goes into the deal with the same rights.

  • Quora says:

    How should startup shares be distributed?…

    well what I know off is that there is a free calculator that I used developed by an author name Mike Moyer, the celculator worked for me maybe this might help you solve your problems. it’s called the grunt calculator this is the link: http://www.slici

  • […] book Slicing Pie outlines a dynamic equity split method called a Grunt Fund. Using this method the contributions of the various participants are assigned a theoretical value […]

  • […] ideas, relationships, equipment, faculties and other necessities that help a business grow. You calculate ownership by dividing what you contributed by the total of all the contributions made by everyone on the […]

  • Troy Westley says:

    ‘Slicing Pie’ is fantastic because it is fair and makes sense and avoids the mistakes of splitting too early. I read the book last week and our team is now slicing pie using this model. Thanks a lot. Troy Westley, CEO CareMonkey.

  • John Warren says:

    Saw the video having run into (showstopper) issues with division of value in the past. This model is respectably comprehensive without being burdensome. I have bought the book and look forward to more insights through it.

  • […] can read some insights on his website and, download a nifty spreadsheet that helps attribute equity for grunt […]

  • scott says:

    I really like the slicingpie approach as an angel investor I have just helped an early stage investor unwind their shareholding in an approach similar (less well developed) as slicingpie. Thanks for sharing your insights and methods it will save SO many early ventures. I will share the magic with my networks. Scott

  • Will Young says:

    Thanks Mike, this is really useful. A friend in SF got us onto your book and it makes a lot of sense. Having this calculator helps bring the concept into reality really nicely. Thank you.

  • Corey Hubbard says:

    Great read!

  • David Worrell says:

    Great book… and a cool calculator too. You should be charging $500 bucks for this! The insight alone is worth ten times that.

  • Carl Lewis says:

    Halfway done

  • Aaron says:

    great tool, saved me 90 minutes, thanks Mike!

  • Sonya Davis says:

    This is super helpful! Saves us a ton of time!

  • Nana says:

    Great book Mike, lifesaver!

  • Leigh Pember says:

    Hey Mike, this is a nice idea. But why is the WE day a Wednesday?

    • Leigh Pember says:

      Oh wait, I see the formula is taking the start date from C3…but I thought you explained that as the start date of the Grunt, not the company. With this method each employee would have a different WE making it hard to tally weekly hours put into the project. I am sure you have a reason

  • Siam Mosharraf Hossain says:

    Just loved it Mike. You are a visionary.

  • Septi Utami says:

    Dear Mr. Moyer i’ve read you’re free sample book but at some point i feel confused. because actually i found your theory when our business has started and the agreement has been made. but still thanks for your sharing Mr. Moyer

  • […] and another site I’ve been exploring is The Grunt Fund/ Slicing Pie a website about startup equity. There is app you can use to calculate what percentage […]

  • My co-founder has suggested I make a loan to get our new company started, that will start to be returned once the company is trading profitably in 6-12 months. I’m unsure how to plug this into the calculator (versus a simple cash-for-equity deal). Any suggestions?

    • Kristopher Dick says:

      Loans are covered in the book. Ver 2.3 of the Paperback edition: page 75 (Chapter 3: Creating a Grunt Fund, Section Heading: Loans and Credit). You may expect your principle + agreed upon interest, but no pie unless something goes awry.

  • Patricia O'Sullivan says:

    I have mentored many tens of entrepreneurs where this spreadsheet might have saved their company when the inevitable fall-out over something unforeseen happened. I will be encouraging every entrepreneur I know to read the Slicing Pie book and at the very least use this spreadsheet. As for myself, I will be signing up for the new Slicing Pie app :)

  • […] Business Process Management (BPM) Training and Education. GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program. Tutorials. Blog.SpoonGraphics. Business Technology Management – IT Governance Framework – Val IT. Enterprice IT Management – ISACA. Tour. Stock Table | Cap Table | Founders Shares | Slicing Pie | Start-Up Equity, Founder's Shares, Dividin…. […]

  • […] The technician is forced to learn how to make the business work, rather than do the work himself. Every technician suffering from an Entrepreneurial Seizure experiences the same thing: 1. Everybody who goes into business is actually three people in one: The Entrepreneur dreams The Manager frets The Technician ruminates While each of these personalities wants to be the boss, none of them wants to have a boss. The Entrepreneur lives in the future, never in the past, rarely in the present. The Manager craves order, compulsively clings to the status quo. Stock Table | Cap Table | Founders Shares | Slicing Pie | Start-Up Equity, Founder's Shares, Dividin…. […]

  • reastes says:

    I saw Mike present this in Brisbane last week. This is one of the most exciting entrepreneur tools I’ve seen in the last 10 years. Careful thought has gone into executing this. I won’t start another business without it.

  • Kent Harrington says:

    Just listened to the book on a drive from Houston to Baton Rogue and back, life saver!!

  • Gruntmaster,

    I have been contemplating similar ideas and really look forward to combining with this concept and calculator. I have a couple questions,

    1) my company is 4.5 years old and I am considering creating phantom stock in order to attract and retain key team members and possibly real equity for a possible investor to help take the company to a better place. We are no longer a start up toddler but I would say a tween as far as maturity. I can’t think of any reason Slicing Pie wouldn’t work, can you?

    2) I would take the value it currently is (with the council of a few wise people) and move forward at that point. I think I would reduce the risk some due to the fact we are no longer a start up. I am purchasing the book but curious on your take if that’s not in there (value is profit x 5, contract street value of accounts under agreements – monitored alarm accounts accounts, and street wholesale value of inventory and other assets – any debt). Does that sound reasonable? Any suggestions for a smaller but stable company like mine?

    3) I was thinking about offering phantom stock small percentage to a Board and business advisers in lieu of fees (acct, lawyer, bus coach, etc), allow employees to convert performance bonus or deferred salary into the Pie as you mention, and investor. I really like the concepts outlined. Any issues between phantom and real stock? I am 100% owner and not wanting to mess with real stock shares quite yet but sometime? How does that affect the Pie?

    Thanks in advance

    • Mike Moyer says:

      Hi Kirk,

      Thanks for the note. Slicing Pie is mostly for bootstrapped startups. It’s based on individual risk. In more established companies individual risk isn’t taken because people are usually getting paid their fair market rates. In these cases equity is more about bonus and retention programs. A more traditional stock option or phantom stock program might work better. I’m working on a book about bonus programs, but it’s still rough!

  • Desirae Aguirre says:

    Hi Mike – Loved your book! Very new to the start-up business and I need some clarification.

    I am the founder of a start-up. Prior to reading your book I hired two developers. The arrangement we made was that I would pay them their fair value wage of $200 an hour however, half would be paid in cash the other would be in units of shares. How would this be inputted using your pie slicer techniques? I would hate to go back and renegotiate our terms as we all have a trusting and great relationship but I also don’t want this agreement to haunt me, so if I am wayyyyy off the mark, can you suggest an alternative solution?

    • Mike Moyer says:

      Hi Desirae,

      To use the Pie Slicer, you would simply input the unpaid portion of their rate. In your case, you would enter $100 which would convert to 200 slices per hour.

      You may be overpaying them unless they are some amazing developers. You’re paying them a $400,000 annual salary. Seems high. This is strictly a contractor rate so you should negotiate a buyout with them instead of equity. An outline for doing this is in the book.

  • Kathy K says:

    Hello from Sydney. Your book is amazing and helped me so much. Ive been wracking my brain trying to work out where to even start with this! I cant thank you enough.

  • Susan Boen says:

    What does it mean when you divide by 2000? Where does the 2000 come from?

  • David Reardon says:

    I want to use Slicing Pie for a restart. We have strong intellectual property and are putting together a new team and new financing. But we want to allocate a slice of the pie to the original investors and original team who had grunt equity. At $1 per unit, there was $2,000,000 in original cash investment and 1,200,000 in units allocated for grunt equity, $3.2 million total. Since all those units are in a separate LLC, call it Old LLC. I want to assign an appropriate Slice of the Pie to Old LLC as a single entity in the Slice Pie spreadsheet. Currently, I just lumped the whole $3.2 million into “legal fees” under “intellectual property” as Old LLC’s share. Actually, most of that went to equipment leases and salaries. Would you recommend a different approach??

    • Mike Moyer says:

      Hi David,

      You could allow Old LLC to license the IP to the New LLC and provide a royalty. Lumping the whole enchilada in the Pie could demotivate future employees. Set up some time with me at if you want to talk in person!


  • Emily Montgomery says:

    How do the Calculator and the App interact? If I buy the App, is there still a use for the Calculator? Thanks!

    • Mike Moyer says:

      The calculator is an Excel spreadsheet, the Pie Slicer is online software. They are separate tools for the same thing. I think the software is easier to use for teams. All the calculations are built in.

      • Citizen X says:

        I’m just digging into this system and am about to start using the spreadsheet before deciding whether I’ll need to invest in the software. Is it safe to assume that once I have the spreadsheet filled out I will be able to upload a .csv file to the app, if I should decide to go that route? If not, could you provide a more comprehensive analysis of what the software offers opposed to the spreadsheet so that I can determine whether it’s worth the investment?

        • Mike Moyer says:

          Hi Citizen X,

          Thanks for the note. The spreadsheet provides a basic tracking system for Slicing Pie, but because it’s just a spreadsheet it has limitations. Lots of people use it, but the software is much more robust. It allows multiple user accounts, more nuanced tracking, and it logs contributions and details over time.

          Think about it this way: you can certainly manage your accounting needs using Excel, but QuickBooks is probably well worth the investment if your company starts to grow.

          There is no import function for the Pie Slicer.

          We are about to launch an updated version of the application. Here is a link to more detail:


  • C Brennan says:

    Just bought the audio version of your Slicing pie. Digging in shortly!

    Thank you for making your spreadsheet available free. Question on the rubric please:

    The rubric allows for a 4x multiplier for cash contributions– yet unpaid commissions operate on only a 2x multiplier in the model. Can you please explain the difference (in TV) between the treatment of hard-cash and unpaid commissions in the model? Thanks.

    • Mike Moyer says:

      Cash contributions refer to out of pocket expenses or cash consumed. Commission is a form of compensation, unpaid salary, commission, royalties, etc. are non cash contributions.

  • Roy Petter Torgersen says:

    I stumbled over you book on Quora or Medium, and was immediately attracted to the title and the cover design. I’ve just finished it, mostly read on my iphone during short breaks, and done in a couple of days, so it’s super easy to read.

    And now I’m a bit upset!

    Basically because I hadn’t stumbled over it before. We are bootstrapping our underwater robots business, (shameless self promotion) and the equity question has been a personal headache, coupled with how to evaluate the startup Pre-money.

    Anyway, I’m SO implementing this over the next few weeks in our company. I’ll translate the important parts to my Spanish team and I would like to publish our findings on our website (I’m also a fan of Buffer’s transparency policies), if that’s ok with you.

  • […] Handbook to Starting a Venture). If you’d like a little more detail, you can watch the calculator video, or, even better, simply sign up for the Pie […]

  • Dave says:

    Hi Mike! Great book and tutorial. I’m an early stage founder and Slicing Pie has come at the perfect time. I’ve downloaded your Excel Spreadsheet, what legal documents do I need in order to make things official with contractors / founders? Thanks

  • Jesterno2 says:

    Great read Mike! Quick and informative, and definitely a model that makes sense for the fast-paced and chaotic world of start-ups. Wish I’d had this resource a decade ago!!

    Quick question re: harvesting/partitioning a fair Founder’s stake.

    I crafted the concept for this business 6 months ago and built out 95% of a concept and working business model utilizing my relationships and personal resources. Just recently met a potential partner who I will be bringing on who has helped me significantly alter my business model to a more successful projected model (from pure consulting to a distribution/sales model) with new perspective based on his experience in the industry, and who is also bringing in many relationships that I anticipate will result in sales that will drive the company’s revenue generation. I want to protect myself with an appropriate % of ownership prior to establishing the Grunt Fund appropriate to my founder status, but also be fair to my partner and allow for adequate growth. Any basic guidelines for what would be a reasonable slice to harvest prior to establishing the Grunt Fund? Would it make sense to harvest two portions and include him as a Founder, or more appropriate to hold off on that until we’re pulling in revenue and or looking at bringing more people on?

    I/we do anticipate taking on advisors and even potentially other future partners/grunts, and will want to utilize this dynamic model with them, but as I start the implementation of this Pie model I want to make sure that I will maintain that % of ownership as the original founder. This was my original idea but he has definitely helped me build on it and will be instrumental in making it successful. I just want to make sure it’s completely fair to everyone and don’t want to be an @sshole!

    With Gratitude,

  • judowalker says:

    Hi Mike, do you have an article or can you describe how to convert a dynamic percentage of the pie into shares. I’m about to incorporate (most likely S Corp) with a co-founder and we can allocate the number of shares based on the current percentage of slices but this number is constantly changing. Do we have to keep buying/selling shares in order to match the percentage in the grunt fund?

  • Doha Ahmed says:

    I find it great, but there is something confusing me. I though of using it for my start-up, but when is the time limit to stop and say “Ok, here is what everyone’s share”. I mean, it will always be available. The more others contribute, the more they take form my share. They might say “ok, let’s divide it according to that” when it is the maximum to their benefit. I mean is there a ratio between there share to mine in the calculations. Because I do not still get it.

    • Mike Moyer says:

      Slicing Pie is used during the bootstrapping phase before cash is available to pay expenses. After breakeven or Series A financing the model terminates and the Pie “bakes” so everyone gets/vests their fair share. After breakeven the company can implement a different equity/options/incentive bonus program.

  • This is awesome Mike, I’ve been reading the book and would have loved we had this knowledge three years ago, nevertheless would like to know if we could still implement your system but instead of considering contributions on a weekly basis we could go back and make memory by accounting our contributions on a monthly basis?

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