Pros and Cons of Being a Solo Founder

Continuing with this week’s theme of co-founders (see here, here, and here), there’s another topic to address: solo founders. While a pair of co-founders is the more common success story, major companies like Amazon.com were founded by a solo entrepreneur. I’ve founded a number of startups both with co-founders and as a solo founder and have a few thoughts on it.

Here are some pros and cons of being a solo founder:

Pros

  • Simple – There’s no recruiting another founder to join the team. It’s just you starting out with no dependencies.
  • Cheap – Work on your startup during the day and drive Uber at night to pay the bills. It’s only your expenses.
  • Style – Whatever your style is, you get to keep doing it. You make the rules, the hours, the whatever — it’s just you.
  • Equity – The startup is 100% yours. You get to personally debate the whole “all of a grape vs a slice of a watermelon” regarding your strategy to raise money or bootstrap and the potential outcomes.

Cons

  • Lonely – Having a co-founder means having a companion that’s there with you 24/7 focused on making the startup successful. Going solo can get lonely.
  • Speed – Small, high quality teams move much faster than an individual. There’s a ton to do and never enough time.
  • Debates – Decisions are often better when two committed people work to come up with the best solution. As an individual, there’s often a single perspective (advisors and mentors can help here).

Some of these cons can be solved by raising money and hiring people. Only, it’s a chicken and egg problem in that you need traction to raise money. And, to get traction you need people. Also, most investors want to see at least two founders as it fits their pattern recognition.

Being any type of founder isn’t easy, and being a solo founder is especially hard. Consider the pros and cons and make the best decision for you.

What else? What are some more pros and cons of being a solo founder?

2 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Being a Solo Founder

  1. David,

    Serious question: You say a solution is raising money. From your perspective as an investor, what is the real handicap a solo founder faces when raising an angel round while relying on an outsourced and/or decentralized team, and what tips do you have for a fundraising solo-entrepreneur (with early revenue) to ease investor concerns as he pursues hiring a full-time team? To what degree would a strong and active technical advisor (and his personal in-house development team) overseeing early stage development mitigate the absence of a technical founder at this stage?

    Thanks for the blog, Will http://www.getalum.com

    On Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 10:11 PM, David Cummings on Startups wrote:

    > David Cummings posted: “Continuing with this week’s theme of co-founders > (see here, here, and here), there’s another topic to address: solo > founders. While a pair of co-founders is the more common success story, > major companies like Amazon.com were founded by a solo entrepreneur” >

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