3 Characteristics Solo Founders Need to Succeed

Many investors shy away from single tech founders. Here is what you need to break through.

For years, I have pushed the co-founder mantra and in almost every case, I still believe that is the more successful route. Or should I say, the route that creates more successful outcomes. Why?

Very few of us (myself included) have enough brainpower to navigate the hundreds of decisions necessary to create a great outcome, especially in those first few months to a year. That is where a great, complimentary co-founder or partner comes into play. I have made 35 investments at The Startup Factory over the past 3 years and up until late last year, had invested in only one solo founder team. And to be honest, we pushed him hard to bring in a co-founder immediately.

So, what have I learned over the past year that makes me question that bias?

It was a conversation with another solo, tech-oriented co-founder in RTP by the name of Robbie Allen. As you can imagine, Robbie is no wallflower. He has a Master’s degree from MIT, was a Distinguished Engineer with Cisco (1 of 13 I think) and is the founder of Automated Insights, a company he founded in 2007, raised significant venture capital and sold this year.

Robbie is one of our mentors in the TSF investment program and one day he sat me down and outlined his thoughts on what a solo tech founder has to have to go it alone. Maybe he was inspired by this solo/tech founder thread on Twitter from Marc Andressen – a not so quiet thought leader on all things startup.

Here are my blended thoughts and 3 key summary characteristics. Great solo tech founders have:

Just one click away from a quick read on 3 – and just 3 – little thoughts here on INC.com. Thanks.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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