Will we see more successful startups with single founders?


Historically, most tech startups have multiple founders, especially the ones that have made it big. Think Steve & Woz, Larry & Sergey, Bill & Paul, Hewlett & Packard, Brian & Joe & Nathan (AirBnb), Drew & Arash (Dropbox), Jack & Noah & Ev & Biz (Twitter), Ben & Evan & Paul (Pinterest), etc.

It has become so ingrained in Silicon Valley wisdom that life as a single founder is very difficult. Because of this, it people seem to take founding teams more seriously. As an example, it seems that accelerators highly prefer cofounding teams. The partners of accelerators often say so. And from experience, I know teams of smart people with no product that have gotten YC/500/Techstars/etc. interviews (or into the programs), but very very few single founders that have gotten interviews in the same position.

To some degree, it makes sense. A startup is hard enough that it is extremely difficult for one person to get something off of the ground. And even if a single person gets something off the ground, can they build a team while growing and scaling?

Things may be tough for a single founder, but times are changing quickly.

  • Services such as  AWS, Heroku, MixPanel, MailChimp, etc. make development simple. More and more startups are popping up to improve the toolchain and sell shovels to the startup folks. It is never been easier to get a product up and running.
  • The world is becoming increasingly connected with the growing social and interest graphs. This means that for many consumer apps, distribution has never been easier.
  • Crowdfunding is starting to gain traction, as well as Angellist. It has never been easier to contact investors, as well as close a round (from what I’ve heard).
  • Accelerators are picking up and learning how to improve the chances for startup success. At the same time, founders/investors are becoming increasingly open with advice on blog posts, Hacker News, USV.com, etc. It has never been easier to gain a basic education in startups, marketing, positioning, distribution, etc.

All of these trends are continuing, and they may even be accelerating. This means that as time goes by, the amount of work necessary to build a startup decreases quickly.

It would go against common wisdom, but if the trends continue, it intuitively makes sense that we should see more single founders build large successful startups.

What do you think? As I am working alone at the moment, I surely hope this is the case.

P.S. This is post number #69 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Or, check out my current project Soulmix.

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