“To get me to invest in a single founder will take a miracle,” is said by many an investor.
I’m currently a single founder, so hearing that from investors, well, isn’t too encouraging.
The reality of any founder/CEO is that when having to choose where to focus the team’s efforts, building something of value should come before finding a co-founder.
I wasn’t always a single founder, though after two years with co-founders, the reality is that I am now a solo founder and in my case, it finally opened the path to building something that actually works.
See, not all people are the same: We have different fingerprints, psychology, experiences and reasons to do what we do. The title of having a co-founder isn’t more important than the substance of having one, and having one that doesn’t work best for the company isn’t better than being a solo founder.
Invest in people that carry on through thick and thin
When you as an investor know exactly who will stay, no matter what, it’s an advantage simply because anything stable in an early stage startup is an advantage.
When the last co-founder left a few months ago, I decided to stop actively searching for co-founders and focus solely on creating meaningful products because I believe that when the timing is right, the right co-founder/partner will be found or not and the business can still grow.
The way founders see it, investments should be about partnering with and supporting beautiful, potential-filled businesses. If a single founder has a team they’ve been working with for years and can execute their vision, how come it doesn’t matter?
This is the wrong game to choose statistics over potential
From day one, startup founders should know that all odds are against them (us). All investors (especially early stage) should also know that simple fact and risk their money accordingly. Nothing new here. Then comes the part where, for some reason, statistics are all of a sudden relevant: This is interesting since it isn’t as relevant when there’s a two per cent chance for any startup to succeed but it is relevant when, out of the successful startups, only 16 per cent were created by a single founder?
And what if that number is actually based on a mistaken perception that manipulates the future of fundraising to limit the number of solo founder investments (or even lowering that number)?
I’m a female, solo, non-tech founder. By these definitions alone, I would be smarter to shut everything down. Yet, I have been doing what I do (build stuff for a better life) for three years now, full-time and I can’t see myself doing anything else. Am I stupid? I call it lucky.
Some will say that single founders have no true shot at success but if you’ll stick to the end of this post, you’ll see that there’s a (massive) hole in the rule.
Single founders are “accused” of not being able to do all the work it takes to grow a startup on their own.
Stop. All solo founders I know don’t work alone. Please keep the fact that I chose to take all the risk on myself, apart from the fact that I have run a small, qualified team for the past three years. They stay with salaries that go way below market average and are aware of that, and when I explicitly asked them why they stay (they got better offers elsewhere) their response was as simple as, “We started this, it’s going somewhere, we want to be there when it grows and also, we believe in you.”
Another thing is that building strong relationships with super experienced founders, investors, businessmen and mentors to learn and know where to focus efforts is something solo founders naturally do. It’s a necessity for all founders to learn from experience and the illusion that you have enough feedback in a co-founding team (too many brains to navigate the boat can actually sink it) might result in overlooking this part.
History will conclude this post for us
If you’re a solo founder with great cards in your hand (product, team, revenue, momentum, etc), rest assured that the right investor who believes in you will be found regardless of the fact that you are a solo founder. If you have a winning hand, one missing card will not stop you, so do what you do anyway and carry on.
If you’re an investor who is looking for great investment opportunities, here is a friendly recommendation: Please judge the business proposal in front of you by the full spectrum of facts and not solely by titles, as it will help you not to miss out on opportunities like these in the future:
Also Read: 5 growth hacking tools for B2B marketers
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Elon Musk, SpaceX
Pierre Omidyar, eBay
Drew Houston, Dropbox*
Sara Blakely, Spanx
Sam Walton, Walmart
Dinnis “Chip” Wilson, Lululemon Athletica
Giacomo Guilizzoni, Balsamiq
Adam Singolda, Taboola
Orit Hashay, Brayola
Merav Oren, WMN
Craig Newmark, Craigslist
Aaron Patzer, Mint
David Karp, Tumblr
Eugene Schueller, L’Oreal
Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos
Nick Woodman, GoPro
Jon Oringer, Shutterstock
*Dropbox Inc. was officially co-founded by two founders after Drew Houston applied as a solo founder to YCombinator where the investors asked him to find a co-founder.
Image Credit: Shutterstock