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13 Comments

Why you don't need a co-founder

Background: I'm a solo founder who's made over $180k on past projects. I created my current startup 3 months ago and am now at $3,000 MRR.

I used to think my startup could only succeed if I had a co-founder.

Two brains are better than one. Hard to do it alone. Investors prefer it.

On my last startup, I had 2 co-founders. We hung out every day, coded all night. We got great initial traction, and the YC interview.

Then everything exploded. We had an equity convo and one co-founder ended up leaving. Traction fell and the other went back to school.

I spent the whole year coding in my basement trying to find Product Market fit alone. I onboarded 2 more co-founders. I hit walls with retention. Eventually, the co-founders ended up leaving and I was left with... Nothing. A failed startup.

Then I started co-working with Robert. We were both solo founders working on our separate startups. We'd jump on a video call unblock each other instantly ("How do you actually talk to users?") or ask the hard question ("How come you're building for 1 month when you haven't asked people to pay?")

After 1 month of co-working, I got 40 paying customers. With the support of Robert and other solo founders, I stopped searching, I stopped coding. I just focused on one thing, and one thing only: Is this a problem people are willing to pay for?

After 1 week, I got my first 10 paying customers. After 3 months, I got 91 paying customers, 85% retention, and $3,000 MRR. To this day, I have 0 cofounders, 0 code, and 0 investment.

There is a narrative out there that you must find a co-founder. In my experience, I don’t think it’s true. You don't need a co-founder, technical skills, or even an investor to find out whether someone will pay for your product.

If you're in the same boat, I can invite you to Founders Cafe https://founderscafe.io . We have a cohort of 80 bootstrapped solo-ish founders who co-work together and help each other unblock. Most of us are now getting paying customers in weeks, not after 1 year of building.

  1. 3

    Curious to know why the equity conversation blew things up. Was someone being greedy?

    1. 2

      No. Two of us were full-time founders. The other co-founder was part time and wanted the same amount of equity as us.

  2. 2

    Maybe in your case is not needed, but in my case was to get a co-funder or change pivot.

    I was making cash, but not enough. Soon as he came we made changes and it helped a lot , because I did no had the skills to upgrade my product, but wanted to keep it alive.

    Now we are kicking it.

    have a great day :-)

    1. 2

      I think that makes sense. If you're already making cash (Validated Product), that makes sense to bring another hire.

      The biggest mistake I see founders making (imo) is bringing on random ass co-founders before they have validated the idea.

      They spend 1 month finding a co-founder at 0.1% success.

      When they could spend 1 month getting 40 paying customers, then hiring when they have it validated.

      Don't need code/investment to get paying customers.

  3. 1

    I was actually looking for exactly this type of product actually, a daily standup type community for founders.

    The product you got 40 customers for, is that the original product you had in mind, or did you already pivot to Founders' Cafe?

    1. 1

      Yes! It was for Founders Cafe. We do the daily standups every day, and help unblock each other if we run into struggles

      1. 1

        Interesting, so did you get the idea for Founders Cafe before you started coworking with Robert, or did you have the idea after coworking a little bit and thinking, this could help other people too?

        Also I noticed you're in the SF area, I'm actually hosting a meetup tomorrow if you or anyone other IHers you know would want to come.

        1. 1

          The latter — started coworking and realized this helped all of us so much.

          Omg!! I’m gonna rsvp! One of my members is also hosting a dinner in Sf later on Sunday for the FC community too

          1. 1

            Awesome I'll see you there then!

  4. 1

    Agreed 100%. Being one of the guys that just joined your cafe, it's quite cool - congrats! And yeah, I need to start marketing myself 😁

    1. 1

      AWWWW !!!! You're the best John :)

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