For years, the conventional wisdom was that a good startup team needed at least two co-founders, and possibly as many as three. And then along came a Tech Crunch survey in 2016 showing that half of all successful exits by startup companies involved companies with just a single, solitary founder. So how many founders are the right number for a new startup?
To answer that question, a lot depends on how experienced you already are as an entrepreneur and founder. If you’re a serial entrepreneur, for example, you might be perfectly OK being the only founder of a company. Going solo gives you a great chance to put your unique imprint on the company, as well as to control every aspect of running the startup.
But what if this is your first time launching a new startup? If that’s the case, then there is a strong case for bringing in another person or two as part of your founding team. One good reason for this is that it is scarce to find a person who is good at every aspect of running a company — not just coming up with great product ideas, but also marketing them and raising money to help finance them. Often, it’s the case that one co-founder will be the chief technologist or chief product officer — the one person who has the most significant tech skills to bring a new product to market. And another co-founder may be the chief evangelist or public face of the company — the person who is involved in the day-to-day running of the company, but who is far more focused on selling the company to others (e.g., partners, vendors, investors). And then there’s the co-founder who is good at the daily operation of the company — the person who is entrusted with the task of making sure that the product gets to market on time.
As you can see, startup founders need to wear a lot of different hats, which is why it’s helpful to have two or three co-founders at one time. These are people who can lean on each other for advice, insights and the occasional pep talk. Starting and launching a new company comes with plenty of highs and lows, and it’s good to have a team of people who can support each other.
Of course, there is a potential downside to all this camaraderie. Yes, that’s right, some startup teams start to fragment due to all the interpersonal reasons that can impact any relationship. Two co-founders, for example, might have radically different visions for the future of the company. Those different visions of the future might go unnoticed during the good times, but once a company hits a brick wall, those different views have a way of polarizing other team members.
If you choose to go it alone when launching a new startup, be sure to surround yourself with plenty of resources, mentors, or coaches. Read the history of any successful startup — you’ll see that it’s filled with potential inflection points and “moments of truth.” You’ll want to have someone to lean on for support so that you can pull through and take your company to its next stage of growth.
Hey! I’m Tomer, an entrepreneur, and maker. You might know me from Mevee, Crane, and Shots, Slides and now investorintelligence.io among other products I’ve launched! This article is a part of a more extensive series I’m writing mostly based on my experiences and is mainly made of me and my team’s opinions.
I hope this helps you to avoid making the same mistakes I did, and remember to keep shipping!
Please clap 👏 if you found this valuable, and follow me 👈 for more writing like this as I share stories about what software development and entrepreneurship looks like in real life.