Why is silicon valley, and YCombinator / Paul Graham in particular, opposed to funding solo founders?


I have been a solo founder my whole life and have managed to start several businesses without the need for outside funding. Yet, when I decided to explore my options and try to join an incubator for my next venture, I quickly realized that being a solo founder is an automatic rejection.

Why is that the case and what is the methodology behind such a thing?

Solo Entrepreneur Ycombinator

asked Feb 13 '14 at 17:16
6 points

2 Answers


The assumption is that a single person, however smart, is unlikely to have the set of skills necessary to get a business off the ground. Also, you often hear getting a co-founder is a proof that you were able to convince at least one other person about how great your idea is.

The first reason is just practical. In early stages there are too many things to do on your own, and even if you have the variety of skill (technical, market/niche expertise, business, sales, writing, etc) you need a) a sounding board for your ideas b) support of every kind - emotional, financial, etc. The statistics for failing single founders are brutal.

Ideal co-founders have complimentary (!) skills with minimal overlap, but are hopefully like-minded individuals who can build a strong partnership.

answered Feb 13 '14 at 20:22
2,835 points
  • Lilia is right on the mark. Apart from multiple co-founders having complementary skill sets to create the "full stack", motivation and drive are probably the biggest benefit. On days that you're feeling negative about your business and the direction you're heading in, your co-founder is there to pick up the mood. – Nishank Khanna 10 years ago
  • There will be days when your personal life will get in the way (health, major occasions in the family, etc.) and having a partner step-in and carry your load for a just a bit will make a huge difference. Team momentum is huge the first 2 years - it's simply more exciting to share dreams with others. – Webbie 10 years ago


YCombinator has funded solo founders. But these have been outliers. The bulk has always been more than one founder.

Here's a list of startups they've funded that had just a single founder at the time of the interview:

W06 - Charles Forman (iminlikewithyou/OMGPOP)
W08 - Altay Guvench (MightyQuiz)
W09 - Sam Odio (Divvyshot)
W09 - Gabor Cselle (reMail)
S10 - Euwyn Poon (Opzi)
S10 - Eric Dementhon (Padmapper)
S10 - Ray Grieselhuber (GinzaMetrics)
W11 - Chris Chen (like.fm)
S12 - Kirill Zubovsky (Scoutzie)
S12 - Gabe Ragland (imgfave)
S12 - Brian Armstong (Coinbase)
S12 - Bryan Beshore (Keychain Logistics)
W13 - Nikhil Nirmel (Lawdingo)

I've heard that usually if Paul and the team really like you, they try to match you up with a co-founder that would provide skills you might lack.


Parse's Ilya Sukhar applied to YC as a solo founder as well.

answered Feb 13 '14 at 20:36
Chrissie Gray
1,107 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Solo Entrepreneur Ycombinator