Do I Really Need a Co-founder?

Some of us absolutely can do a startup without a co-founder.  Eric Yuan of Zoom did:

It’s just for most of us, it’s harder.

If you look at Aileen Lee’s seminal TechCrunch post on the first general of Unicorns, you can see only a handful of them had a single founder.

But a handful is a lot more than none:

Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups

Eric Yuan of rocketship Zoom has also written a lot about the power of a solo founder. E.g., Do You Need A Cofounder? Zoom CEO Eric Yuan Says Maybe

Just a few thoughts if you are thinking of going solo:

  • Most “solo” founders recruit someone that is close to being a co-founder in a COO or similar role, at least later. It’s hard to do it all alone. You’ll need someone seasoned to not just fill the org chart, but to help you carry the load. But you can find that person later. They don’t always have to be there on Day 1.
  • There’s a reason “partnerships” were invented. We don’t all need partners. And boy, partnerships are hard. But most of us do need someone else to share the burden.

I’ve done it both ways. I did best when I had a co-founder 100% aligned with my goals, that had my back, every day. I probably did worst when I had to deal with constant founder conflict. Solo founder was somewhere in the middle for me.

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Published on March 6, 2018

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