Start up solo, or bring on a co-founder? 4 factors to consider
May 16, 2022
Every journey to entrepreneurship is unique. I find the world of startups fascinating because the desire to address a problem or need — often one you’ve struggled with yourself — is just too tempting to resist. Taking on that problem on your own as a solo founder can be daunting, but it can also be freeing. Alternatively, starting up a company with co-founders can be productive yet could have its own challenges. When I started DocSend, I never had to consider whether or not I wanted a co-founder, because I knew I wanted to build a company with two specific people that I liked personally and respected professionally. But for many entrepreneurs, the question of whether you can take on that challenge by yourself or want a co-founder by your side isn’t an easy one. It’s understandable why. Going solo can give you more control and freedom to lead the company the way you see fit. It also means you’re the only one responsible for pitching VCs, running board meetings, staffing a team, and making major decisions. While a solo founder can bring on executives and managers to help with this work and these decisions, co-founders can balance out the leadership team. They can bring different areas of expertise, their own professional networks, and share responsibility. While the data show solo founders raise more funding, a holistic approach to understanding your gaps and how to fill them is imperative. If you are starting up a company or currently running your startup all by yourself, here are four things to consider when bringing in a co-founder (or not). Expertise
Every entrepreneur should objectively assess their skills and determine if their capabilities are well-rounded enough to run a business alone. If you’re not technical and you are starting a tech company, you may need to find a co-founder who fills that gap, or at the very least a strong engineer to lead product development. Even if you’re technical and can begin coding from day one, you need to consider other key business areas and decide if bringing on a co-founder with expertise in those areas will allow you to get to a viable product, market traction and revenue faster. I reached out to my network to see how they felt about the decision. I recently spoke with Aneto Okonkwo, co-founder and CEO of Chatdesk, about why he decided to bring in multiple co-founders, and he said that different areas of expertise are a big driver. “I thought about the different functions needed to make Chatdesk successful. Since we bring together tech and personalized, human support, it was important to establish three functions: technical, operations, and sales. I knew if each person could own an area, it would ensure we would achieve our mission,” he said. The number of founders on your team may also impact your fundraising success. Our analysis found that solo founders had the most fundraising success , securing an average of 42 investor meetings and raising an average of $3.22 million, compared to companies with four or more founders, which secured an average of 30 meetings and raised an average of $1.7 million. While the data show solo founders raise more funding, a holistic approach to understanding your gaps and how to fill them is imperative.