Accelerators · Finding cofounders

Would investors accept a business cofounder instead of a tech cofounder?

Don Phan Looking for data or business cofounder. Startup is live with revenue

August 26th, 2019

We are a recruiting platform live with paying customers. While a tech cofounder is nice to have, we are doing ok w/o one for now.

I have talked to investors who are definitely seeking fund a team and not solo founder. Even accelerators state that they will not accept a solo founder.

I have looked on Cofounderslab, startup meeting groups, and AngelList for a tech cofounder with no luck. Like other sites, Cofounderslab mostly consists of people looking for tech cofounders. So finding one is rather difficult.

Also part of the problem for me is that our startup is not a sexy B2C startup that can “change the world” like Uber or Airbnb. We are a boring recruiting platform (although investors actually would say it sexy). Many would-be tech cofounders are already in boring B2B companies and dream of glory of joining the next big thing (if they even want to work on someone else's idea).

I don’t think at this stage, it is critical to have a tech cofounder to grow. But I have also came to the conclusion that I cannot go it alone. I just need some smart, experienced senior level cofounder(s).

I am thinking of adding a business cofounder (marketing or biz dev) as that would relieve me to focus on the product. But would investors go along with having a cofounder but one that is business and not tech?

David M

August 27th, 2019

You are getting too caught up in the appearance. Worrying about whether something is "Sexy" (seriously overused and fad word btw) or how many cofounders that. You need to stop...take a breath and ask yourself "Do I have something that satisfies a need in the market place?" Next ask yourself, "Am I able to competently and profitably produce this product or service?" Next question "Will people buy it? Are they buying it?" These questions along with dozens of other pivotal questions are answered in a competent business plan. Investors care about one thing....making a generous return on their investment. Having 3 or 5 or 10 cofounders has absolutely ZERO to do with the risk of the investment. You can hire 10 morons who can not executive. You can also hire 10 of the top minds in the world who can not execute because the product or the plan is terrible. I have looked at business plans with guys who have headed up organizations in the past that are top notch. Their business plan is terrible. I have reviewed companies with guys who own the 10 story building for which the startup is housed...but their business plan is subpar. I have talked with CFO's for the billionaire who owns the 40 story building housing the startup...again with a startup with a bad plan. Did I get involved with them? No. Did they go anywhere because they had a dozen or two dozen people playing entrepreneur in an office? Absolutely not. Team...plan...competence of the synergy between the the many elements and the need you are meeting. Build those elements and you will have success. Quit worrying about what is "sexy" and how many people you have and how that looks.

Don Phan Looking for data or business cofounder. Startup is live with revenue

August 26th, 2019

@daniel, I know alot of other people iooking for tech cofounders here with zero luck. If you look at a random selection of members, they are mostly non tech looking for a tech CF.

Joe Jackson just looking

August 26th, 2019

I agree that finding tech cofounders/CTO is super tough. I assume that if you have a working product/revenue that the product is somewhat stable and the challenge is either product/market fit or mrkt/sales. In which case a PM or CMO/CRO type makes more sense. my 2 cents

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

August 27th, 2019

A "team" does not mean a collection of co-founders. It means a team (which can be a founder and a management team). Solo-preneurs present some challenges because it's impossible for any one person to master more than 2 of the 6 fundamental business skills. You need a team to round out the collection of important business skills, but they don't have to be founders. They could be employees or advisors.

Frankly, I would rather look at a company run by a business person than a tech person, because the part I care about most is how their business acumen measures up. Technology is a commodity skill.

@David is correct. The significance of your product is not about how sexy it is, it's about how much money it will reliably make and how quickly. What the cost is to make more money (how it will scale) is far more important than whether it's quietly processing garbage for municipalities or on every billboard in Times Square.

Dmitri Toubelis

Last updated on August 30th, 2019

If you don't have a technical co-founder you don't need to stress too much about it. In fact, having wrong technical co-founder may be harmful for your business too. I worked for a company whose technical cofounder was underqualified and he impeded development of the product and would refuse to accept help. Also, your technical co-founder will need different set skills now than when entering growth phase and the latter is where most of the startup fails. There is a good chance that the technical co-founder you may help you to solve your immediate issues but let you down in not so distant future.

I would not fixate on finding a technical co-founder in your place and opt for building strong and trusted technical team instead. What particularly important that key roles in the team should not be outsourced to third parties and you would need to have your technical lead as your employee. It is still not easy to find good people for this role, but you will have a much better chance of finding someone working for you part-time. Hiring consultant on hourly basis is another option. The difference is that you can use stock option or equity grants as incentive in the first case and save some cash. The second option is less desirable as it requires more cash and provides less motivation to the person you hire. The rest of the team can be anywhere in the world and your technical lead would be a key person to guide it in the right direction

You should also complement your technical team with 1-2 technical advisers, they will help you to validate any technical decision your team makes and provide you with their opinions. Most people often neglect this option but it actually provides the most value for money/equity spent in any startup.

And if you worried about how investors will see it then there I see no issue here. This option is equally convincing and it may be even prefered by a sophisticated investor.

Victor G Founder, serial entrepreneur, PhD-E, PMP, launched 5 successful companies in real market

August 26th, 2019

If you have developing team and appropriate tech lead (in house) it will be acceptable for most investors. Some investors prefer to see two-three co-founders because they suppose it lowers the risk of failure and there is no binding rules to have tech co-founder.

The most important things for investors are your turnover, net profit, growth, market share, competitiveness and loyal, paying customers.

Daniel Canelea Senior Solutions Architect at TD Wealth

August 26th, 2019

I am very intrigued by you saying you cannot find a Tech Co-Founder . As one in that category , I have been under the impression that this is a site where most people are Techies since very few non-Techies have contacted me in the last year and a half that I have been active here .

Nevertheless , with a strong technology team in place , you don't need a Tech co-founder , especially for a company whose services are not technology related (software product or technology services) .

David Insro Founder & CEO, Serial Entrepreneur

August 26th, 2019

It's true that investors don't like solo founders because it's too risky but it doesn't have to be a tech cofounder. The other thing they would question is why you are looking for a marketing/BD cofounder and stepping back to focus on the product; that rings alarm bells. As the initial founder, you should tackle the hardest task currently facing your startup which is probably increasing revenue/awareness or investment. The product side is pretty much stable or is on it's way to be stable. You should be looking for either a COO or CPO if you can't find a CTO. Find someone from the recruitment industry.

Don Phan Looking for data or business cofounder. Startup is live with revenue

August 27th, 2019

@david @paul: What investors and potential cofounders think of sexy could be different. Investors want to make money. What you described sounds like the business case that would excite them. Cofounders are another story. I know of medtech company that investors are intrigued but they cant find people as its in the senior care product business. And I would argue that some current trends/B2C is more exciting to many/most tech talent. Of course we are still in the SaaS enterprise space so its not that no one is interested.

David M

Last updated on August 28th, 2019

Don..I don't completely follow "I know of medtech company that investors are intrigued but they cant find people as its in the senior care product business. And I would argue that some current trends/B2C is more exciting to many/most tech talent." Are you saying you know of a medtech company that investors are wanting to invest in but they can not find people to build it?

You have a point in terms of attraction to various endeavors. I still have major motion picture projects at various stages of development. I can’t tell you how many times I took an investor meeting and within the first five minutes the guy is saying how “sexy” it is. And it’s minute 6 that I zone out because I don’t want that type of investor because they will waste my time. That defining is usually given by incompetent people surrounding the industry who want to hobnob on some red carpet. But to the serious investor a Tom Cruise movie is still at the base nothing more than a bottle of ketchup with really good consumer satisfaction and eye level shelf placement. As for senior care, who cares? Come up with a new adult diaper that has a competitive edge and a good plan behind and that is extremely lucrative if done correctly. Catheter companies make a mint. If the venture is not moving forward, they don’t have the right approach, the needed human capital, the needed financial capital, or a worthy product/service.

But to your team number...anytime someone says they don't want to invest in a single member company, you need to understand why. I find it hard to believe that an investor is saying that without a reason. And that reason could be any number of issues...from you have a business plan that suggests you will have to build to a certain level before breaking even, and that level is x number of employees...they are looking at the company with only one employee and thinking "this has a long way to go." They may see a few founders but the business plan suggests a huge weak link that needs to be filled with experience.

I am not dismissing your concerns with regard to finding investors. There will be more investors for certain industries and products..sure. My point is…if you have a company NOW…in otherwords you aren’t an investor or looking to build a portfolio…but rather you woke up one day..and the earth shook and your passion moved you to start out to build something…and you did the research and you created the business plan..and you are meeting a need…then you have to figure out the strategy to approach the investors.

Feel free to connect with me and Im happy to review further. Keep in mind, Air BNB and Uber…they didn’t invent anything. All the did was evolve the old way of getting from one place to the next and finding a place to stay. Someone will do that within the human resources sector of business to business in a way that obliterates the current myopic, overly saturated human resources approach to business…which is greatly needed.

You may also be connecting to subpar investors…and as for incubators…lol..take ANY advice from anyone involved with most of them with a grain of salt. The majority are nothing more than fancy real estate business people….glamorous apartment owners.