Co-founder or no co-founder? Well, it depends.
When starting a new business, many entrepreneurs wonder if they need a co-founder. While there are certainly advantages to having a co-founder, it is not necessary for every business. Here, we will explore the pros and cons of having a co-founder, as well as whether or not you need a technical co-founder if you are not technical.
Deciding on whether you need a co-founder for your startup or not is one of the decisions you will have to make when starting a business. A co-founder can be a great asset and provide invaluable support and insight, but it is also important to be sure that you are compatible with the person and that they bring the right skills and experience to the table.
TL; DRWhen you are only getting started, you do not need a (technical) co-founder. Anybody can learn how to build an MVP on their own. And you don't need any tech skills to validate the idea, which is the main problem that you need to solve. Once that is done, go ahead and get yourself a technical buddy who will dig deeper into the specifics.
Solo or with a co-founder?
The first question to ask yourself is whether you even need a co-founder. If you have the skills and experience to launch and manage the business on your own, then you may not need one.
However, if you are lacking in certain areas, such as technical skills or marketing knowledge, then having a co-founder can be a great way to fill in the gaps. Another way would be to learn the essential skills yourself. It is in many ways a better way to go. Please understand that you do not need to master every single skill out there that is required for building a startup, but you do need to have a clear understanding of what those skills are and how to test for them. And, if you still think, that building an MVP without technical skills is not possible, think again. Anyone can do it.
Read this article to know what we are talking about:
10 Essential Steps to Launching a Successful Startup with No Money or Technical SkillsIf you are not technical yourself, it may be tempting to look for a technical co-founder to help with the development of your product. However, this is not always necessary. In the very early stages of a startup, it may be more important to focus on validation and market research rather than building out a product. In these cases, it may be better to bootstrap and verify that you indeed have a business before you decide to put any more effort or money into it.
Read up on this here:
Validating a product without having the product
Once your startup begins to grow and gain traction, however, a technical co-founder may become more important. This is because venture capital firms often prefer to invest in startups with at least two co-founders, and a technical co-founder can provide valuable expertise in areas such as product development and scalability.
One of the biggest advantages of having a co-founder is that you have someone to share the workload with. Starting a business can be overwhelming, and having a co-founder to bounce ideas off of and help with decision-making can be incredibly helpful. Additionally, having a co-founder can provide accountability and motivation, as you are accountable to each other and can motivate each other to keep pushing forward.
On the other hand, there are also advantages to being a solo founder. For one, you have complete control over your business and can make decisions without having to consult with anyone else. This can be particularly beneficial if you have a very clear vision for your business and don't want to compromise on any aspect of it. Additionally, being a solo founder means that you don't have to worry about conflicts or disagreements with a co-founder.
So, do you need a co-founder? It ultimately depends on your individual circumstances and goals. Here are five reasons why a co-founder may be beneficial and corresponding counter-arguments:
- A co-founder can provide valuable expertise and skills that complement your own. For example, if you are a strong marketer but not a technical person, a technical co-founder can help with product development and growth. However, learning how to do basic things yourself is a more advisable trajectory. Here's a short article on why you don't need a technical co-founder.
- A co-founder can provide much-needed support and motivation during the difficult early stages of a startup. Starting a business can be lonely and stressful, and having a co-founder can provide a sense of camaraderie and accountability. However, ChatGPT can take up this role and help you bounce off ideas pretty well. Check out this example of how anyone can use AI as an unofficial co-founder.
- A co-founder can help with decision-making and strategic planning. Starting a business involves many important decisions, and having a co-founder to bounce ideas off of and share the burden of decision-making can be helpful. However, a mentor or a community can also fulfil this function pretty well. Check out some of the articles written by the users of the startup game for women, where they explain the importance of having a mentor.
- Venture capital firms often prefer to invest in startups with at least two co-founders. This is because they believe that having multiple founders increases the chances of success and reduces the risk of the business failing. However, there is really no data that supports the idea that startups with co-founder do better. Check out this book.
- A co-founder can provide valuable connections and networks. Starting a business often involves networking and building relationships, and having a co-founder with a strong network can provide access to valuable resources and opportunities. However, it's going to be extremely hard to convince that person to join your startup if you can't provide something valuable to them in return. Networking is a skill that can be learned. Check out an example on how to do networking here.
Drawbacks to having a co-founder
The disadvantages go further than just needing to split any profits or equity with your co-founder, which by itself can be difficult to negotiate.If you and your co-founder have different visions for the business, or if you have conflicts or disagreements, it can mean the end of your startup.
There are a few potential drawbacks to having a co-founder, including:
- Shared decision-making: With a co-founder, you'll need to make important decisions together, which can be time-consuming and may lead to disagreements.
- Shared ownership: When you have a co-founder, you'll need to split ownership of the company, which can lead to complications around equity and decision-making power.
- Differing goals and visions: Even if you start a company with a co-founder who shares your initial vision, their goals and priorities may evolve over time. This can lead to conflicts and potentially even to the demise of the company.
- Potential for conflict: As with any close relationship, having a co-founder can lead to personal conflicts and tension. If you and your co-founder don't handle conflict well, it can affect the entire company.
- Difficulty in severing ties: If things don't work out with your co-founder, it can be difficult and complicated to sever ties and go your separate ways. This can be especially challenging if you've been working together for a long time and have built a successful business together.
When it comes to finding a co-founder, it is important to be clear about what skills and experience you are looking for. It is not always necessary to have a technical co-founder, but it can be helpful if you are launching a tech-focused business. It is more important to find someone who is compatible with you and who shares your vision for the business.
There are a number of ways to find a co-founder. You can start by networking with people in your industry and asking for referrals. You can also use online platforms such as AngelList or CoFoundersLab to connect with potential co-founders.
Once you have identified a potential co-founder, it is important to ask them the right questions. These should include questions about their experience, their skills, and their vision for the business.
You should also ask about their availability and commitment to the business. When it comes to discussing equity, it is important to be clear about what each person is bringing to the table. This should include both financial and non-financial contributions. It is also important to discuss how the equity will be divided and how it will be managed. Finally, it is important to consider whether you should sign a shareholders’ agreement. This is a legal document that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each shareholder and can help to protect both parties in the event of a dispute.
In conclusion, finding the best co-founder for your startup is an important decision and should not be taken lightly. It is important to be clear about what skills and experience you are looking for and to ask the right questions. It is also important to discuss equity and to consider whether a shareholders’ agreement should be signed. By taking the time to find the right co-founder, you can ensure that your business has the best chance of success.
We have a completely FREE STARTUP SCHOOL where you can learn about all things related to founding a startup. Sign up for the free startup school and get started immediately.
What’s so special about a technical co-founder?
Starting a business makes you its founder, and bringing someone else on board means making them co-founders. We have covered this issue in one of the of the Fe/male Switch Startup School, so do check it out when you finished reading this article.
Just to remind you that the main thing about co-founders is that they share founder-level responsibilities such as setting a company’s goals, forming the vision for the startup, and developing strategies and contingency plans. So make sure you think twice before appointing a person to the role, as removing them is shockingly hard.
What sets tech co-founder apart is that their role is to figure out how to make the technical sides of your business work. You may be the ideal figure, but it is also important to have a person able to make it a reality.
Let’s take a look at what benefits finding a tech co-founder will get you in the long run.
They can make your business truly go online
Say you have a little pastry shop making the best cinnamon buns in town. Everyone in the neighborhood knows you and buys your buns daily because they are superb. Still, there are limitations to the number of people you can serve in the pastry’s physical location. But as long as you are able to meet the daily requirements of your customers, all you need is a mobile application for speedy home delivery.
Back in the day, you would need to figure out how to host a server, build a mainframe, migrate data, develop architecture and implement the technology for all local moms to be able to use it.
Here come zero-code tools. By using Adalo, anyone can build a mobile app. Well, a basic one, at least. If you don't want to dig deeper, a tech co-founder might be a good choice.
We have a completely FREE STARTUP SCHOOL with a module on getting started with Adalo. Sign up for the free startup school and get started immediately.
A technical co-founder will make your business appealing to investors
Unfortunately, investors are more likely to believe in your idea when they know that you have a technical co-founder. This happens because investors feel more confident that you know what you are doing at least in terms of technical solutions. They do like to minimize risks.
So, if you are ready to scale your product up, go out there and find a technical co-founder to let your business truly flourish. The key word is SCALE. Don't worry about investors too early. Most of them will not even want to talk to you until you can demonstrate traction (the best traction being people paying you on a recurring basis and the amount of those people is increasing month over month).
So if you think that you do need a co-founder, read the article How to find a Co-Founder for Your Startup and what to ask them that goes deeper into the process.
If you want to find a co-founder, apply to Fe/male Switch startup game for women and meet other future female founders, build your startup in a game together and test whether this person is a good fit.