Dear SaaStr: Should I Stay Solo or Should I Settle for a Co-founder?

I think this is one of the Top 5 most important questions in start-ups. Possibly, Top 1 in ultimate significance.

The answer for most of us: (x) most of us benefit from an A+ co-founder but (y) do not settle.

The #1 reason start-ups that have something (a few real customers, some early but real initial adoption), but still fail is that the founders implode or self-destruct, or just don’t act as a strong enough team.

Thus, you cannot settle. You have to find a great co-founder (or two). This is the most important hire you will ever make.

But, if you look empirically, 90%+ of Tech IPOs have very strong co-founders. Not single founders. Single founders can work, but statistically, the odds are against you.  94% of YCombinator startups have a co-founder and 90%+ of public SaaS companies.  Not all.  Zoom, Zscaler, ZoomInfo and more did just fine with a solo founder.  But 94%.

Great data classic here from TechCrunch (Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups | TechCrunch) and Aileen Lee:

Personally, when I had a great co-founder that had my back, those times, I was 20x more effective than when I didn’t. Personally I’m not good enough to do it alone. Don’t know about you.

But, I do believe you can find a co-founder later, in spirit at least. An ex-post facto co-founder.

So if you don’t have a great co-founder, just try to bring in amazing talent. If you do that, I think, one or two may rise above. Take true ownership of the company and the mission. And become an ex-post facto co-founder.

That saved my bacon.

Y Combinator: Only 4% Of Our Top 100 Startups Don’t Have a Co-Founder

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