Single Founder with Training Wheels


I was having a chat with two other gentlemen at the eMarketing Association conference (eM13) this evening when I noticed something: we were all single founders with training wheels.

What’s that? Read on.

The data shows that single founders fail the hardest when launching a new business. Paul Graham, the respected serial entrepreneur, even goes as far as labeling it the #1 reason start-ups fail. According to him:

What’s wrong with having one founder? To start with, it’s a vote of no confidence. It probably means the founder couldn’t talk any of his friends into starting the company with him. That’s pretty alarming, because his friends are the ones who know him best. But even if the founder’s friends were all wrong and the company is a good bet, he’s still at a disadvantage. Starting a startup is too hard for one person. Even if you could do all the work yourself, you need colleagues to brainstorm with, to talk you out of stupid decisions, and to cheer you up when things go wrong.

I obviously disagree with the line of thinking here, but we can agree that single founder traits are rare and tough, and I would probably have the same investment guidelines. Paul is kind of saying he wants two people for the price of one. Makes sense.

But back to this evening.

All of us started with two founders. All of us became frustrated with this founder after they proved unreliable. All of us broke free of the partnership, felt freed from the prison of the two founder world, and used this opportunity to never look back.

Starting off as a team helped us, but jettisoning the training wheels once we learned how to ride on our own was our breakthrough.