Startups · Cofounder

Do I really need a co-founder?


November 24th, 2016

I have started building a product based on an idea i had. I come from a supply chain management/procurement/operations background so i outsourced the development and technology piece to a firm in India. They have been wonderful to work with and the CEO completely gets my vision. I foresee a long term relationship with that firm.

I have heard a lot about start ups gaining credibility when there is more than one founder particularly with investors and/accelerators.
Is this true? If I cover the business/finance piece and they have the technology piece, i believe we are all set.

Also, do I keep them on for the technology piece and get a co-founder that will help me grow the company? or just get a CTO?

Looking forward to your responses.

Ema Chuku Product Developer. Founder.

November 24th, 2016

It mostly depends on type of venture. A devoted and like-minded cofounder is necessary and can make ventures move at a faster rate (theres's a saying "2 heads are better than 1").. However, you should not allow "not having a cofounder mentality" to deter your progress or starting your venture. There are many solo-founded successful ventures out there.

I personally prefer venturing out solo until you figure things out then get a cofounder/teams onboard. Cofounder at initial stage has its up and downs. Not to be negative but it can lead to frustrations in moving forward.

Regardless of what you heard, focus on growing a business not what investors and accelerators want. Figure out your priorities.

Mike Robinson

November 24th, 2016

There are 3 reasons why investors prefer 2 founders (although it is not strictly "necessary"):

1) With one founder, if something happens in that person's life the company may crash.
2) Two founders probably have a more complete skill set than one (either the sales vs ops or biz vs tech). Partners can share the load and help each other down the road.
3) If the one founder has not been able to recruit a co-founder, that might mean the founder does not "play well with others" and wants to be a dictator, or it might mean the idea has a fatal flaw that repels knowledgeable cofounders.

So, no single rule or characteristic is ever "mandatory", but investors often feel more comfortable with companies that have a more complete team, including a duopoly at the top.

I always remember a fortune cookie I got once: "No success if you work alone. Take a partner."

Ashley Titus Founder at RAGS Solutions

November 24th, 2016

First of all It appears that you are progressing based upon an idea that relates to your background and your experience. Seriously validate your idea with customers before starting a full blown solution with your tech partners in India. I have done an SaaS start-up in C# over the .NET platform and Asp.Net with MVC 4 for the website very recently for a procurement solution upstream of an ERP solution and you may connect with me if this was beneficial to your start-up. Related to the issue of a co-founder, my experience in a new start-up for a mobility solution is just getting underway: I have taken in a co-founder to make connections as he is a local of Qatar and I am not - assisting in thus seeking seed investment and talking to customers. I for one am now negotiating with the tech partner to take equity against development costs to reduce the seed funding required and being able to start-up and gain traction in the first quarter 2017. This is also a good approach to avoid things going wrong and also getting maximum commitment from the team plus value added to the start-up by all concerned at this crucial stage when most start-ups fail, even at a dilution of my own equity as it contributes to the future.

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

November 24th, 2016

I do not understand the "need" for a co-founder. A cofounder is not a role or job; it is being part of the new world order. Unless that person exists now (I have had two in my many roles) then don't lose sleep. You "need" a team and a plan to back a vision.  The vision should be yours - a "recruited" cofounder will neither add or subtract to the appeal to a VC of your vision and plan. If you want a partner, find one that you are willing to metaphorically "marry"for the duration. Until then, drive your own vision

Sumit Varma Entrepreneur. Cofounder of LORDS - A Mahindra Logistics Ltd subsidiary

November 24th, 2016

Co founding of an enterprise is akin to writing the constitution of a country- you get it right, it's great, you get it wrong, you endure the pain in permanence as its not easy to amend the constitution. It's easy to get swayed away by projecting a formidable cofounding team at the start to an investor but euphoria gives way to disillusionment once the rubber meets the road in your organizational journey ahead. If you believe in your idea and are passionate to take it to market, then tread alone. As Victor Hugo puts it , There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

John Fluke Corporate governance expert

November 24th, 2016

If the engagement of a cofounder is required to supply an array of complementary critically important skills to your enterprise then, by alll means, recruit that person ASAP.

If you have a sufficient skills set to guide the enterprise from here to a state of sustained positive xmcash flow, do not divert any attention to peripheral matttes

Ian Shearer Executive Chairman at Parakeetplay

November 25th, 2016

Reading the responses above I would most agree with Mike Robinson. Also even though his response is specific to an investor's perspective I think some of the points he makes are valid whether or not you are seeking investment.
Another point, there is no such thing as a "recruited" co-founder. A person is either a co-founder or not.
I have seen many solo founders crash because they thought they could do it all themselves. Its very important to know what you know and also what you dont know. Dont be arrogant and think you know it all. You dont.

Ema Chuku Product Developer. Founder.

November 25th, 2016

@Ian @Mike 9 out 10 solo founders I can tell you is not as a result of the person being arrogant or "know it all" or "fatal flaw business idea" per say. Rather the time and effort involves in finding the right partner to board along.

So unless you are the extrovert or type that has good amount of entrepreneur minded friends, your chances and time of finding becomes very limiting.

Robert Stoeber Co-founder at Workglue

November 26th, 2016

Your personal experience is "supply chain management/procurement/operations" and you hired developers in India. Yet you confidently say "I believe we are all set" without additional partners, team members, or co-founders.

Aren't you concerned at all about sales and marketing? You may be able to get early customers through your previous work experience/contacts, and that may be all you need to validate the product concept and MVP. But long term viability will require ongoing marketing to generate leads, and sales skill to close the deals. I would be looking in that direction for a co-founder, especially if you will be looking for financing in the near future.

Even if it's not an official co-founder, you'll certainly need a sales/marketing person as an integral member of the early team. 

Arthur Lipper Chairman of British Far East Holdings Ltd.

November 24th, 2016

Many successful start ups are partnerships with a Larry, the extrovert, being the outside guy and marketer while Barry, the inside, detail focused CFO-type takes care of operations. See The Larry and Barry guide to Entrepreneurial Wisdom.