Single founders: have fun, but do nothing

The Single Founder Ordeal

Leaving a dear co-founder of a venture that was going nowhere, I was left a single founder of a new venture.
There are several reasons why you find yourself, so further up the road, alone in whatever it is you decide to do.


But that is also the moment when you realize that this idea for a startup is exactly what you want to do. Now what should be the next step for someone who is alone with very limited coding skills and no partner who wants to jump onto the band wagon?

Googling up my predicament, I came across this article from someone telling his startup story as a single entrepreneur. Its title was promising, but in so many words he says what everybody else is saying, including almost every coordinator in almost every accelerator I came to visit:
A. Get a co-founder (“don’t hire, inspire”)
B. Learn to code

So I went out to get me a technological co-founder. Guessing that since my idea is in the realm of web services, I don’t need someone who is a NASA engineer or one of them ex-IDF wizarding units. I need someone who knows a bit more than I do to incorporate some open source code into the site’s server software and make the connection with all of the external APIs. Not to much to ask, right?

If you read enough startup lit and transcripts from university courses like Peter Thiel’s course at Stanford, you get the notion that Silicon Valley is swarmed with engineers who are looking for bright ideas by cool dudes and they can be reeled in by the promise of equity.
I am trying to create an equal partnership, so that should be a piece of cake but it doesn’t, because this is Tel Aviv, the Silicon Wadi. Here, there are lots of potential techie co-founders, who carry loads of papers in their backpockets promising them ownership in nonexistent companies.

I guess this is the flipside of the “serial entrepreneur” phenomenon. For every serial entrepreneur. there are probably two to four disillusioned developers who have settled for regular jobs in technology companies after a short startup adventure.
So if I am to get someone like this on my side, what I need to offer them is a salary. And of course an equal share in whatever company the idea is going to materialize as.

Accelerators are quite adamant about not letting single founder get into their cycles. They all say that the probability of creating a successful startup company declines massively when there is just one entrepreneur. When I asked one of the coordinators where this is coming from and on what survey this is based, she simply shrugged and told me that this is what she was told.

Again Google provides the answer: Paul Graham’s article Startup Mistakes , listing 18 mistakes that will cause the downfall of a startup, with being a single founder at the top of the list. The evidence the author of the article show are very weak and totally lack any evidence: instead of providing statistics  he simply asks: “have you noticed how very little successful startups with single founders are out there?”. Well, have you ever noticed how very few successful startup are there generally? The odds, whether you are alone or with a partner, are ever not in your favour. I am still waiting for an answer to the question I raised in Quora.

Wandering in the Tel Aviv acceleratorsphere, I came across several single entrepreneurs. Most of them have created a prototype or an actual working product (mostly services or community websites), but have not managed to find a co-founder and proceed anyway.Their tenacity will help them inspire investors and if they do, they will be able to hire a team. Probability of failure? Same as regular startups until proven otherwise.

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