As someone with limited (ok, minimal. ok, zero) technical background, I am sympathetic to those entrepreneurs who are looking for co-founders in order to help them build and launch their startups. Sometimes you don’t have the right skills to do so on your own.
But often you do, and the time spent searching for a co-founder could instead be funneled into developing the business. That’s the argument, in part, of Ray Grieselhuber, the single-person founder of the SEO automation and analytics startup Ginzametrics.
Ginzametrics was one of the startups participating in this summer’s Y Combinator program – a notable achievement for any startup, but particularly for one with a single-person founder. After all, YC co-founder Paul Graham lists “single founder” as one of the “18 Mistakes that Kill Startups.”
But Grieselhuber argues that entrepreneurs should worry less about having “everything perfectly meet other people’s criteria,” and instead focus on, to quote Nike, “just doing it.”
As Grieselhuber rightly points out, there is always more work than you can handle at a startup, and you always have to learn how to juggle your priorities. As a single founder, Grieselhuber feels like he can have a higher level of productivity and work at a faster pace, in part because he doesn’t have to negotiate strategy and direction with co-founders. He argues that being a single founder has allowed him to be more responsive and more agile with Ginzametrics.
It helps, of course, that Grieselhuber has a background in engineering. And arguably just as important as his technical background is the Biz Dev work he’s done in the past. It’s not simply about being able to build something, after all; it’s about building a tool that people want and that moves your business forward.
Grieselhuber says that he does outsource some aspects of Ginzametrics, particularly administrative work, and hires coding help from time-to-time. That’s a reminder, of course, that just because you’re a single founder doesn’t mean that every single task is yours to accomplish.
As a single founder, Grieselhuber said that the networking and mentorship offered by Y Combinator were invaluable. But that’s something echoed by every YC graduate. And as Grieselhuber contends, it’s just one of the many ways in which a single-person founder shouldn’t be seen as such an anomaly.