This short guide demonstrates how founders should calculate the number of options to include in their ESOP pool.

For the purposes of this example we have assumed that the founders are setting up a customary 10% ESOP pool (check out our guide 5 key questions when setting up an ESOP for a more detailed discussion on the appropriate size of your ESOP).


In almost all cases you should calculate the size of your ESOP pool on a fully diluted basis. i.e. the ESOP should be equal to 10% of all shares and options on issue (including the ESOP). Looking at a company with 1,000,000 shares on issue:


If you are experiencing some arithmetic fatigue, we have you covered. Available for free download here is a spreadsheet tool that incorporates the above formula. All you need to do is plug in your total number of shares and options on issue, your ESOP pool size as a percentage, and the tool will generate the relevant number of ESOP pool shares.

Excel version