Startups are tough, and they are even tougher when you try to do them alone. While there are plenty of examples of great startups with one founder, having a good cofounder increases your chances of success. Cofounders add to your company’s skills, they share the workload and improve company productivity, and they are someone with whom you can share the emotional burden.
Don’t take my work for it. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and investor in tons of successful companies recently said:
“Most often two or three people is much better. When I look at these things as an investor, and I say ‘What is a good composition of a project and founders that are likely to succeed?’ It’s usually two or three of them.”
That said, cofounder disagreements are one of the leading causes of startup failure. So what to do?
Think about it like a marriage. Try to start your company with someone you know you are compatible, preferably someone you have worked with before. If that’s not possible, think about a “try before you buy” arrangement where you both “test things out” during your night and weekend work.
And always, always put in place a vesting schedule for equity in the business so if your cofounder decides to leave (or any employee for that matter), they don’t take a large chunk of the ownership of the company with them.
But don’t delay starting your company because you can’t find a cofounder. You’re better off starting, getting some momentum, and then finding someone. It will probably be easier that way, anyway, since your cofounder will see the progress you have made.