As a single founder, is it worth the effort to add a new (novice) co-founder?


I have often read that single founder companies are given lower priority by incubators and angels. I was thinking about bringing in an additional founder.

They will be "new." First, I will have to tell him everything that I know before we can move forward. Well, some correction. I think i can manage most of the work myself. He will be there for the investors who would otherwise be reluctant to invest in a single person company. he can then gradually learn and i wont have to dedicate time and effort for that.

From 'everything' I mean not just software or entrepreneurship; I will probably have to tell him/her the very basics of my current business and software. He/she probably won't even know what a 'startup' really is.

So is it worth that effort?


asked Sep 16 '11 at 03:02
125 points

4 Answers


From how you've described it, no way. The investors will quiz you on your roles and they'll quickly realise that the contribution from the other 'founder' is small and challenge you on why you set up the company in this way. They aren't going to invest just because Founders=2.

If you bring on another founder, it has to be with building a better company in mind, not for pleasing investors. If the person you bring in has years of experience with successful startups and it is clear that they would have (for instance) a mentoring/coaching role then that's completely different. They would be bringing something to the table, and the investors would be reassured by that. On the other hand add a founder that doesn't contribute and you'll make the investors very confused as to why you've done this, and their confidence in you will evaporate.

Only bring people in because they will enhance your business and add value - investors understand this. Bring people in to make the headcount look more credible isn't a strategy.

answered Sep 17 '11 at 01:54
2,333 points
  • Ok yes, i cannot find anything to disagree with. But as i said i am new to entrepreneurship so i need to get my head around what the investors really want. The response here seems to be clear enough. I think i will go it alone, for now, until i can find someone who really adds value to the company. TBH that was my gut feeling but reading everywhere that single founder companies are not very successful (and the fact that i cannot find any popular company with just one founder) confused me entirely, but this thread has cleared things up. Thanks! – Achshar 13 years ago
  • The reason most successful startups are founded by more than one person is because there are very few people in the world that can do *everything* well enough to get the business off the ground. Usually someone is technical, but not so savvy marketing-wise, or *vice versa*, and sometimes people just want to have the support of an experienced entrepreneur to bounce ideas and decisions off of. If you find someone where u feel some sort of creative spark ignite when you're together then go in with them. When you find good partners the product is greater than the sum of the parts. – Edralph 12 years ago


My gut says it's not worth it. You have way too many things to do to have to teach a novice about how to do a startup.

You do need more people at your company but I would stick with seasoned veterans. Once you have a solid team, then you might consider a newbie for doing development.

answered Sep 16 '11 at 04:49
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points
  • +1 "way too many things to do" I say unless you are so experienced that taking on an additional responsibility of mentor-ship is part of your mission! – Joseph Barisonzi 13 years ago
  • hmm i agree with most of what you say. But there's a deal. I say novice because he wont be able to help me but that does not mean i will have to mentor him immediately. I can pitch him about the idea and then continue my work. (I think i can do most of the engineering stuff myself) i don't need any help with the coding or business part. Instead that extra person will just be for investors who would otherwise be reluctant in investing with a single person company. He can then learn from me without me dedicating time and effort for that to happen. What do you think about this? – Achshar 13 years ago


Your efforts would be better spent building a compelling product and gaining paying customers, as ultimately that will help with investors more than a body count.

answered Sep 17 '11 at 01:02
Steve Jones
3,239 points


This seems like a really bad idea from a company structure point of view. If he's really a co-founder, won't he then also have some controlling share of the company, and expect a fair amount of the profits, etc? This sounds like putting an anchor around your neck and then trying to build a company with the additional weight to pull.

answered Sep 17 '11 at 02:18
Doug N
136 points
  • hmm well i knew it would be an additional weight to pull but what i was really trying to figure out was if it is worth it if another founder can help me raise early capital (which is kind of an important investment IMO) with good angel or vc. – Achshar 13 years ago

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