We are often asked why we don’t accept solo founders into the Lisbon Challenge acceleration program. Well, we actually do but it is very rare and there is a reason for that. Ultimately, you shouldn’t be rushing to get a co-founder just because someone tells you to. That’s stupid.
Co-founder relationships are amongst the most important – you need to look at tension or potential strain points and face them head on. For some odd reason, many start-ups that I have worked with, place lees importance on choosing who they are going to work with than other aspects of the start-up. Choosing a co-founder is the most important decision you will probably ever make so make it a priority.
I’ve been involved in start-up competitions whereby the actual winning start-up, now with an interesting initial cash prize to kick things off, has to deal with the founder talking to the other members that helped him win, discuss tricky issues such as equity and whether or not they will be co-founders. Needless to say that I don’t need to tell you how that worked out.
Matching the UnMatchable Co-founder
We are just as guilty as we sometimes try and help some founders find co-founders in half day match making sessions. This is something I now do not do – introductions are one thing; founder dating is a whole different ball game. If we spend so much time recruiting someone, why would we ever decide a future business partnership based on mutual intentions and gut feelings?
As we look to validate start-ups, our focus has become in the relationship between founders, how long they’ve known each other, their level of friendship, how well do they know each other and when the shit hit the fan, how they resolved the issue.
It’s no coincidence that many comparisons have been made between the military and business – if you were in battle, who would you want next to you, the one person that would have your back unconditionally? Not wanting to belittle the commitment and sacrifice of those who fight or have fought for our freedom, it is nonetheless a way to look at founder relationships when in doubt.
There are multiple places where you can find co-founders. Instead of registering for the miraculous match making session that places designers and programmers with business dev., you should look to your relationships at University or in the last company that you worked in. In both cases, you will have gone through the good and the bad moments and with luck, the downright ugly. These are the people that you really know well and can gauge how they’ll work alongside you.
Alone May Be Ok… Sometimes
There’s that saying – better to be alone than to be in bad company, but again, you will ultimately be pressed to find a co-founder as most acceleration programs are very wary of single founder start-ups – the numbers speak for themselves. There are many valid reasons why you will most probably struggle on your own, especially in the beginning.
However, I have several friends who are single founders and they have done well by connecting with mentors and surrounding themselves with other founders. If nothing else, we go out to lunch, skype or just have a coffee and talk.