What are the steps for getting a tech startup off the ground when you're the only team member?


6

I'm a software developer with over a decade of experience writing code. I've recently had an idea for a tech startup and am in the process of creating a prototype website and a pitch deck for the idea.

My question is, once I have my working prototype built and the pitch deck put together, what's next? The idea is large enough that I would certainly need funding to get it off the ground. I could probably hammer out the coding myself but I would need advice and guidance on getting it off the ground (which I know a lot of investors would provide).

From what I understand though, angel investors look for great ideas that come with a team of people to invest in. Usually those people have lots of experience in the startup world or degrees from MIT/Stanford, etc. Would I have any luck getting funding without others involved? I have no experience with startups, no degree (but 12 years of coding experience and I like to think by now I'm pretty good at it).

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

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asked Dec 9 '12 at 04:56
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Scott
136 points
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4 Answers


7

People will tell you that you need a co-founder because that's what everybody says; but I disagree. It's not ALWAYS necessary to have a co-founder to launch a startup and there are plenty examples of single-founder startups that went big to prove it. If you can work on your own, just keep going like that until the product is live. Besides, you could also find a bad co-founder that'd drag everything down. Keep what works working and if you're able to build the product AND build a product that you think will sell then why fix what's not broken. Make sure to take time to read books and watch videos about entrepreneurship and business; I think you should spend at least an hour a day learning about what you don't know.

Most likely, it'll be very difficult for you to raise money at this point so if you can finish the product without raising capital then do so and skip the monkey game. Once your product is finished and starts to show even a limited amount of traction, then you'll be in a position to raise capital; in the meantime, you can prepare a business plan. As far as the business related steps that you need to take, you need to find a business lawyer to incorporate a business, you'll need an accountant and you'll need banking (make sure to choose a bank that offers online payments). You might also need a patent lawyer and see if there's a provisional patent worth filing for. You might also be able to get a loan from a bank to fund the very early launch phase.

Instead of a co-founder, I think you should go look for advisers. Everybody's going to want to give you advice, not all of it will be good. I think a good way to tell the value of an early stage adviser is to show the prototype one-on-one and watch the behavior. When faced with a business model or a product that's not yet validated by the market or by someone else, some people will glance at your product and, while you're explaining how it works, they'll just be looking for all the gotchas they can find to invalidate your product or your company: "ah ha, there's a bug here" or "ah ha, there's no co-founder". These advisers will not help you. Those who will help you will behave differently: they'll FIRST want to understand your product and your vision. Only hire and work with "infected" people who understand your vision. Take a look at this video of Xerox's CEO invalidating the computer mouse when it wasn't yet validated by the market.

You can build and launch a startup on your own. What you can't do is build and scale a business on your own. So good luck with your launch.

answered Dec 10 '12 at 02:03
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Frenchie
4,166 points
  • monkey game? haven't heard that reference before. – Jim Galley 7 years ago
  • Nice points, frenchie. Practical and well grounded. Learnt. – Billy Chan 7 years ago
  • Your application will never be "finished" . "Once your product is finished and starts to show even a limited amount of traction, then you'll be in a position to raise capital; in the meantime, you can prepare a business plan." – Bhargav Patel 7 years ago
  • @BhargavPatel: when I wrote finished, I didn't mean "there won't be any new feature to add". I meant "the initial development is done and version 1.0 is ready for launch". – Frenchie 7 years ago
  • and I do not agree with that either. There is no such thing as version, beta version. Get what you have out and start testing. More time you spend developing, less time you will spend learning and implementing things that actually need to be implemented. – Bhargav Patel 7 years ago
  • Well there are two distinct approaches: there's the lean-startup agile approach, which you are describing, and that focuses on incremental development based on user and market feedback. And there's the Apple approach: years of closed-circuit R&D and then their V1 is pretty eye-popping. So don't think there's always only one approach to everything. That's also why single-founder startups are possible. – Frenchie 7 years ago

2

As Frenchie said, you do not need a co-founder to proceed. One main thing I suggest if you ever want a successful tech startup is to avoid perfection. Never create features that you think your customers will want, instead create a minimal-viable product. Think of the simplest function, proof of concept, of your idea and build that. It doesn't even have to be good looking. Just use coding conventions from this century (joke! Html5 and css3 preferred) so you do not scare away any sneezers by having bad load times or by making bad design choices. Focus on creating the MVP, getting feedback and making the perfect MVP. Then rely on customer feedback to add/subtract features. Work on your design and then start A/B testing to increase conversions and to increase usability for your customers.

One constant success pattern among your niche is the positive response of customers to companies that rely on their feedback and have a constant iteration process.

You should also release the application on the 1st-2nd version of your MVP. Start getting early customers, these will be your sneezers. People who trusted you when you had an ugly website with little to no "cool" features. These people will spread the word and tell their friends about this cool website they have discovered - they love bragging rights. Keep in touch with these early customers, build rapport have them suggest features to add/subtract.

Lone ventures are tough but I bet the rewards are even more sweeter. Think about the fact that you will not have anyone potentially in the way of your vision.

answered Dec 10 '12 at 15:25
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Bhargav Patel
784 points

1

Whether you are a startup or a single founder or a large company or anything else - what you need for success are customers. That implies that you have something people will give you money for.

I don't think this is the answer you are looking for, but until you ensure yourself that you have something of value for others then all the rest is wasted time/effort/money.

answered Dec 10 '12 at 12:22
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Tim J
8,346 points

-2

No company is started by one man or woman. After 12 years in the industry i am sure you must know people that you can trust and that are also good at what they do. Get some of these people on board, better if there skills complement yours, (in this case business/ start up experience). If you can't convince your friends of you idea how can you expect any investor to buy into it.

If your idea is is good as good as you say then you can always go to the bank as they will expect to see a business plan etc. This if nothing else will give you experience and practice pitching to people, and my get you the money you require.

In my experience it doesn't matter if you have a degree or not it is the pasion and drive of the founders that gets businesses going you can always hier in people with the knowledge later.

answered Dec 10 '12 at 00:32
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User1810626
77 points
  • "No company is started by one man or woman." But that's not true, unless you are defining "started" or "company" in some special way. Probably in terms of small businesses, more are started by lone founders than aren't. – Chelonian 7 years ago
  • I'm talking about large companies (companies that become lage) especially in the software industry. Since Scott asked about angel investors as well we aren't talking about a small business – User1810626 7 years ago
  • What about Dell then? – Chelonian 7 years ago

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