Founders are the foundation of the business…
Who is the founder of your company? Co-founders? If you give “founder’s shares” to an employee, does that make them a founder, too?
A lot of first-time entrepreneurs get hung up on these questions. They fret over whether they are the founder or a co-founder. They get upset when the first hire (who is brought in before any funding or even any product) calls himself or herself a founder.
The truth is it doesn’t really matter. There is no rule about who is a founder. It’s a title, just like any other, with no single meaning. It’s part personal marketing and part corporate history.
Anyone can be a “founder”
If this title is important to you or anyone on the team, then make this issue part of the discussion. If you care, make it explicitly clear who is the “founder” or who are the “co-founders” of the company and who are not. Otherwise, ignore this issue and move on.
Either way, do note that the decision as to who is invited to this discussion is itself an important part of this process. For example, if there is a team of five and only three get together to decide the equity split, then those three are taking the position of being the founders, with the other two being relegated to advisors or employees. The other two may or may not agree with that position.