Hi. My name is Austin Hallock and I’m a single founder.
I’m writing this after learning Clay.io was rejected tonight by StartX, Stanford’s Accelerator. Their reasoning was the fact that I’m a single founder, and this isn’t the first time that has been a road block.
As many of you know, being a single founder is mostly looked down upon, especially by most accelerators and investors. For good reason too – it’s incredibly difficult to handle the burdens of a startup alone. That isn’t to say it’s impossible. Successful companies can be built with just one primary founder, see Dropbox, Amazon and countless others.
My problem is the metric for number of founders holds too much weight. In my experience others will favor a company that has a well-rounded team on paper: designer, developer, business guy, even if they have achieved less in the same amount of time as a company with a single founder. Of course, the lone founder of a company needs to be a rare breed capable of all three of those things, but that does exist.
Single founders have the advantage of always agreeing with themselves. At times this can be a disadvantage, but one easily countered by having a strong advisory board.
With that said, building this company as a single founder isn’t something I want – it makes life more difficult for me. Ideally I’d have one or two others who are just as passionate and committed as I am and I just haven’t found that yet. I need someone who I know will do a better job with either the design, business, or the technical stuff, AND have a major passion for gaming. Until I find that person, I will work my butt off to fill those roles myself.
To everyone judging a startup for having a single founder: don’t judge on the fact that there is just one face behind it, judge on its merit. How has the company evolved over time? What has been achieved for the amount of resources put into it? The history and traction of the company along with what the founder has built in the past should be more important than having the traditional team of a designer, developer, and business guy.
Of course, I am one of the more biased people out there for this argument, so I’d love to hear what anyone else has to say!