What startup advice would Steve Jobs give

Three is the magic number for a founding team: The perspective of a startup founder


Solo founders like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs inspire many startup founders. And thanks to their dazzling (one could even say eccentric) personalities and enormously ambitious visions, the media likes to report on such individual founding personalities.

Professional investors, however, are often skeptical about solo founders. Even if you are someone who covers all competencies from technology development to sales yourself, that will not help you in contact with investors.

Investors believe in the team and invest in the team. Remember, you are building the team not only for the search for capital, but also for the long-term development of the company. If the team is just you, investors will likely say "no".

Why are investors skeptical of individual founders?

It is very unlikely that a single person would have all of the diverse skills required to drive the startup project.

Even if investors met someone they'd believe had all of these skills (we've never met someone like that), they'd be wondering what happens if the person is run over by a car tomorrow.

They would also be concerned that it would be a one-man show (or one-woman show) because the person failed to convince anyone else to become part of the company. Is there something wrong? Does she not want to have anyone with her or does nobody want to participate because of her? Either way, this is a warning sign in the eyes of most professional investors.

What is the right number of co-founders for a startup?

Nicolajs and my opinion is: The correct number of co-founders in the founding team is usually 2 to 4.

On the one hand, this has to do with the skills these people bring with them: More people can cover more areas. Another important factor is the variety of perspectives that every single person on the founding team brings with them. But keep in mind that every additional person makes decision-making in your company more complicated!

For our book Startup funding we also asked founders what they think about the question of the right number of co-founders. The startup founder Amir Schlachet gave us a perspective on this.

A founder's point of view: 3 is the magic number for a startup team

Amir Schlachet is co-founder and managing director of Global-e, a startup that supports online retailers in Europe and the USA with its cost-effective and risk-free service to manage their complex international sales.

Amir explains his view on the optimal number of co-founders for a startup:

Amir Schlachet, founder and managing director of Global-e

“I believe that a team of three founders with equal shares is the optimal structure for a startup founding team.

I have no idea how a lone founder can accomplish anything without being Superman or having a ton of luck.

In today's highly complex and fast-paced world, it is super important to have multiple perspectives from people who are equally committed to the company, especially when making important decisions (and in a startup, almost every decision can have potentially strategic consequences for the company).

Two founders are better.

But assuming they will (and should) have different views on many issues, making a decision is not easy. This could lead to them making unnecessary compromises or one side feeling constantly being left out.

Four founders are already a “crowd”, which causes numerous problems.

This includes decision-making (see the justification for two founders, which is doubled here) and the division of the founding team into two "parties" made up of two founders whose views are opposed. I actually heard of one case where the main VC investor demanded that only one pair can stay and the other must be bought out. In addition, everyone in the founding team only has a 25 percent stake in the company, which is quickly diluted in the first few rounds. This may get to the point where the stake of each and every member of the founding team becomes too insignificant for him or her to spend the time, money, and effort to make the venture a success.

In summary, I believe three people is the magic number for a founding team.

This creates the necessary variety of perspectives, finding majorities is very easy, and each member of the founding team retains a sufficiently high stake in the company. "

More about the ideal founding team for your startup

If you would like to learn more about how to put together a founding team, you will find a detailed chapter in my book "Startup Financing", including the following topics:

get yourself Startup funding here as hardcover, softcover or Kindle eBook:

📘 Buy "Startup Financing" on Amazon

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