How much more difficult is it to build a startup with a single founder versus having two founders?

On my first business Silicon Alley Reporter I was a single founder. It made it to $11.6M in revenue in year four.

My second business Weblogs Inc. was dual founder, with Brian Alvey as my partner. We made it to ~$1M run rate in month 18.

My third business Mahalo (website) is single founder, and we are between the two after three years–but in terms of traffic we are 25x both. Mahalo is much, much more successful.

My take on this:

  1. As a single founder I was able to move faster and the businesses grew, frankly, faster. However, it was certainly more lonely as an experience. Having Brian as a partner, and Peter Rojas as essentially our third founder even though we brought him in six months after founding (he was just as important us frankly), was more FUN. It was more collaborative.
  2. Could I have built Weblogs, Inc without Brian? Perhaps, but it would not be as much fun. To be honest I really miss working with him, and i know being the CEO of his own company crowdfusion probably hasn’t been as much fun as being partners. We still talk often, but probably 10% as much. At weblogsinc we talked 2-3x a day. Which is fun.
  3. If you are prone to getting lonely, or a first time entrepreneur, I suggest having a partner. If you are confident and don’t get lonely easily then do it alone and enjoy having 2-3x the stock.
  4. Finally, if you are experienced and have resources you can bring in top-flight talent if the business gets to scale. I did this with the amazing Jason Rapp in year three of Mahalo. He is now president and everyone reports to him and it feels just like having a co-founder.

It’s really about preference and your personality. strong agressive folks drive out co-founders as well because their singularity of vision and control issues can make them into, well, a-holes. I mean, Steve Jobsdrove out Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates drove out Paul Allen right? In those cases those folks probably should have just hired talented people–not had partners.

Or maybe Paul Allen and Steve Wozniak’s contributions were so great Gates and Jobs wouldn’t have gotten there alone?

It’s complicated. I actually don’t think I have a good answer. Disregard the above advice…. I’m still figuring it out. 🙂


Jason McCabe CalacanisI’ve build a half dozen successful startups and been privileged to angel investor.

Source : Quora

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