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How many co-founders should a startup have?

24 June 2019


In the tech community, people are hotly debating about how many people are needed to start a tech business. Some influencers say that two founders are more than enough, while others believe three co-founders are the best option. However, all of them share the same opinion that one-person startups are destined to fail. Let’s have a look at this issue more closely.

One founder in a startup

Firstly, startups with one founder are prone to high risks. Investors barely give money to single founders because they believe in teams. No one wants to invest in the project where too much depends on one person. The logic of investors is crystal clear: co-founders add competencies so that your startup business is more likely to succeed. Even if you are that genius as to code, do operational management, and sale simultaneously, it probably won’t be of high quality. According to the Startup Genomo Report “Why Startups Succeed?”, solo founders reach the scale stage much later compared to a team of two founders. It also reveals that balanced teams with one technical founder and one business founder raise 30% more money, and are 19% less likely to scale prematurely than technical or business-heavy founding teams. On account of these findings, focus on your best competence and find complementing skills in co-founders. But how many co-founders do you actually need?



Two co-founders

If one is not enough, then two can make a difference. Assuming you are a professional software developer with innovative ideas. Try to partner up with an experienced salesperson. In this case, one founder creates and the other one sales. Most Internet bloggers say this pattern is the basis for any startup. In practice, however, people with different background knowledge often fail to come up with one decision. As professionals, they just see one and the same thing from two different angles. Needless to say how much a software engineer can argue with your marketing manager. Unless it affects your business, this can be healthy for product development. Having two opposing points of view is great but you need someone to take responsibility, right?



Three co-founders

Successful business owners share the opinion that teams achieve more. Steve Jobs, for example, is known for his belief in dedicated teams:

“People in a team balance each other and the total is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people”. Steve Jobs

Three people make a win-win opportunity for startups. Apart from one tech specialist and a salesperson, your startup project also needs a business partner who will be responsible for business development. This type of co-founder thinks globally and chooses the proper direction for your startup growth. As well, such team structure enables you to define management roles and set the hierarchy of dominance. Since no business survives without a leader sooner or later your startup will need one person who will have the final say in decisions.



Four and more co-founders

Multiple co-founders can cause a clash of interests. This concerns not only equity and money, but also leadership and power. People say too many cooks spoil the broth. After all, this is your business and not the broth which will be put at stake. Apart from that, a big number of co-founders can really slow down the decision-making process. Supposing two of the founders are away on different business trips and you urgently need them on-site, you get trapped in the situation and start to summon them back. Still, the undeniable advantage of startups with 4+ co-founders is their collective brain capacity.




Depending on your goals and abilities, start-up with two (preferably three) co-founders who will take different roles and responsibilities. This will empower your business to grow and blossom. Anyway, starting up a tech business is a long journey where you need someone to lean on. Let it be experienced and lovely people whose company you really enjoy.

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