I see a lot of single founder discouragement on the startup interwebs. I'd like to start offering an alternative viewpoint, and I'd appreciate it if other single founders would join me.
Single founders are indeed rare, but we're out there. The perception is that we are rare because we never succeed, but that isn't the case.
I think you don't hear much about us because:
- We don't often get funding and the press/recognition that comes with it.
- Entrepreneurs are discouraged from being single founders in the first place.
- Most people, even most startup founders, aren't equipped to be single founders.
On the last point... I've seen a lot of posts lately on qualities that make good startup founders. I made the following list a while back when thinking about good co-founders:
The point is that a good startup co-founder is a rare breed of person. A good single founder is even rarer. You need pretty much the same qualities, but to a significantly higher degree.
- Intellectual curiosity
- Independent thinking
- Analytical thinking
- Likes to work
- Works efficiently
- Emotionally stable
- Ability to focus
- OK with no salary for a period of time
- Shared financial/exit goals
- Shared product areas
- Compatible personality
For example, startups are an emotional roller coaster. With a co-founder, they can be up when you are down and visa-versa. When you are a single founder, you don't have to be up all the time, but you have to be up enough to keep going.
Basically you have to do everything yourself. There is no business co-founder and tech co-founder; it's all you.
Since most startup founders aren't equipped for this challenge, I think their knee-jerk reaction that it isn't a good idea makes sense (from their perspective). They can't see how they could do it, so they project that no one can. But that just isn't so.
There are at least three single founders on the HN leaderboard:
There may be more. These are just the ones I know off the top of my head, glancing at the list.
Don't get me wrong--there are many great reasons to have co-founders, and I have had my share of them. But in some situations with the right person, founding a startup yourself does make sense.
What else do you want to know about single founders? I have some topic ideas but I'd love your suggestions.
Update: additional comments can be found here (on HN).