Optimal number of founders in a startup

August 14, 2012 at 3:22 pm (Uncategorized)

I have realised in my short stint as a co-founder at Uberlabs that the optimal number of co-founders has to be an odd number. Practically speaking, it can be 1 or 3. Any number greater than that would be too many co-founders. (We are 3 co-founders at Uberlabs)

If you have an odd number of co-founders you can break deadlocks in decision making by majority voting. I personally do not care much about ending up on the losing side of this process because the other 2 co-founders are smart people and they will not make outrageously wrong decisions anyways. If you do not trust your co-founders to be smart, you are screwed anyways.

There are ofcourse successful companies with 2 co-founders as well, but in general it will work only if there is a clear understanding right at the beginning of who is going to make which decision. In case of Microsoft and Apple it was one guy doing product strategy/marketing, and one guy doing tech.

Not that you will require this deadlock breaking vote all the time. Infact you need it very rarely. Most arguments, if well formed and well presented, are heard patiently and are received well.

At Uberlabs we have also managed to divide work among ourselves well. 2 of us work on tech most of the time, while the other looks after sales/marketing/talking to investors 70% of the time. From time to time we meet and discuss each others problems. This brings me to my second insight: Perspective Depth.

I define perspective depth as your degree of engagement in a project. When you get very deeply involved in a project you sometimes miss seeing the broader overall picture. You need to take a few steps back. Sometimes you do not have the time or the inclination to do it. Hence you need someone else who is a little disengaged from your project, but knows what is going on. It works nicely for us. Hence we end up being 70:30 involved in our projects; 70% in our area (me in tech) and 30% in the other aspects (product strategy etc).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: