Entrepreneurship · Founding

Can Individuals (myself) Found Their Own Company Alone?

Olumidé Gbenro

July 31st, 2015

I have been working feverishly on my new company: A social transport app but I have been on my own. I have funded 90% of it as well as created all of the technical documentation, Incorporation, Pitch deck, applying to incubators etc

Many of my friends show interest but only when I post something of progress. I know I can get this done but it is difficult and I am bearing the burden alone. I truly believe this app will succeed but I am discouraged to see that busy schedules and lack of interest until the big bucks are rolling is affecting commitment of close friends and family

Another thing I'm worried about is when I apply for these incubators and I am a sole founder they might be weary of investing in one individual no matter how driven he (me) is, I am only one man.

If anyone is interested in contributing sweat or currency equity for an amazing idea contact me. If your drive is as much as mine the sky is the limit.

Stephen G. Barr Inimitable Advisor with Wide experience.

August 1st, 2015

The freedom to soar is in your control as a solo founder. I have always started all my companies as 100% sole proprietor boot strapped with only one notable exit in my career. I dare say most VC and Angels like two co-founders but there are those like myself who support the lone wolf!

Clark Askam

July 31st, 2015

Social Transport app? I think this is becoming a crowded space and with several big names with their feet in the door... What exactly do you do differently? Give us a quick use case/example. As for my incubator advice, each one is different; that's what I expect people to tell you here... but most probably prefer teams (who wouldn't?). I'd make sure the ones you apply for and pick are ones that make sense for you and your stage of the company startup and what they provide. Plus, in the end you for the most part have to do all the work, why not just save all the bullshit and do the work now on your own? If incubator focuses on things you've already overcome, it's a waste. If they expect a lot value but return very little value back to you, be weary (PR/Recognition only last so long). That % of your company is a BIG deal; read up on advisors and employee equity pools... you can do A LOT of damage with the % they take from you. Most companies/brands you know of didn't use an incubator... don't believe because you get into one it's a golden ticket and "you've arrived". Don't buy the hype. But I love your attitude; keep that, ask around for advice and work around your current hurdles and future ones... you might not need or want this incubator idea. Every moment you are spending raising money, recruiting, applying for incubators, you aren't working on solving problems your company truly does for its customers... I think it's a lot more fun building your way, with the people you want, and who also want to help you. Enjoy the ride man, these moments are exactly what makes or breaks entrepreneurs. Gluck, Clark


July 31st, 2015

Hi Olumide,

Sounds like we have a similar idea. Mine is called HeLLa Rides though currently localized to the bay area, and in other ways more niched down than HopNoot in order to focus my attention.

While I disagree with Clark that this is a crowded space - because I think the space he is thinking of is more Uber/Lyft based - I do agree with everything else he has to say about seeking incubators. The inucubator isn't necessarily going to get you further, and I think you'd be more likely accepted to an incubator if you keep focusing on building on what you have so far.

I'd be interested to know more about what you're presenting in your decks, because while I don't think the particular space you're approaching is being addressed well -there are a lot of people looking at this problem with varying degrees of success.

Ideally you're in some way differentiating yourself from projects like: -- car.ma (a couple of apps), duet (app), commutr (app), trees for cars (app though not sure its still working).

In that none of them have really gained the kind of critical mass to garner them widespread attention. I think carma is the closest, but I find the app clunky and still too impersonal.

I think the drive you've presented, suggests that if you can find ways to build this on your own -- via outsourced development -- even to just get an MVP, you'd move closer to getting where you need to go (no pun intended... that's part of the slogan for HeLLa Rides LOL).

Based on your kickstarter video though, your scope is a bit wider than mine - something I think you want to assess in terms how much of that feature set is critical to demonstrate the value of your idea on an alpha or beta launch.

Based on your profile here, it says you are looking for marketing support, but I'd argue that you (like me) actually need development support.

Happy to discuss further - curious how long you've been looking at this and if there are ways we can support each other, either as a way to feel less alone in the process, or if it make sense at some point, joining efforts (though totally OK not to, as I said - we're not exactly aligned). I think it's just nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of in this context.


Michael Barnathan Adaptable, efficient, and motivated

July 31st, 2015

I feel you. The incubators will come around when you post traction, though - nail a small pilot and you'll find people becoming more receptive. Allocate equity proportional to the risk they're talking.

Clinton Senkow Serial Entrepreneur, Fitness + Travel + Nutrition, Published Writer

July 31st, 2015

Olumide, I'd love to listen to what your app idea is and see if its appropriate for myself to get involved. Look forward to connecting. Clinton

Christopher Leggett co-founder at Sinter3D

July 31st, 2015

  Dear  Olumidé Gbenro,

First of all, it sounds like you have the right questions and the passion needed to succeed in start-ups.  Your drive is your greatest asset, and it can be hard to sustain, and you know your pace best -- and I am having the same challenges with PrintHuman (although I have an inactive co-founder).

Your idea of social transportation app which is 90% funded is an excellent sign and speaks to your ability to run this by yourself. 

The challenge is how to proceed given you have done 90% of the work (similar to what I have done with my start-up), yet it is not unreasonable to begin to seek outside supporters to raise awareness or aid in your search or writing process as you seek funding. 

Your assessment and intuition is real -- people often are busy with other obligations with real deadlines with their bills and finances that make it hard to fight the early start-up climb (yet you're 90% funded for your first goal.... so....)

For the co-founder situation for your app, you have done 90% of the work, so it's not unreasonable that you find a co-founder or join with another start-up that can either :
  • acquire the co-founder role for 50/50 split by actually paying you through a written agreement
  • decide how much input you need from the co-founder and see if they would be amendable to a 90/10 split since you've done most of the work or some other arrangement (great for non-serious co-founders that are seeking co-founders, but really don't put in any time until it's funded).

I'm just throwing out some ideas.  Honestly, it sounds like we're in the same boat with extremely different products and skills-- so maybe we can connect, and let me know how it goes.  Hope this was useful at all... :).  Your tenacity and ongoing improvements to your software and process are probably the right strategy to get funded.

Generally, a good 50/50 split on seed with the co-founder is what I am doing with my company if we get funded (not there yet), but yes when there is a true even split of responsibilities, you really can focus on extending your platform -- especially if you find someone who is a fast learner, willing to work and knows what they're doing.

definitely shoot me an email if you want to talk.  I'll tell if you if I can't help or maybe there is something that we could try : chrisryanleggett@gmail.com , linkedin.com/in/3dgeom

Jordan Boon Director at Climb Digital

July 31st, 2015

Olumide. I feel your pain. I have ran my own business alone for the past 10 years it is a t shirt printing business - thetshirtman.co.uk i got to a stage a few years ago when staffing was on the cards at the point when google did the Penguin / Panda update and the business dropped massivly. I have tried many business over the years and i can truly say that getting a business partner can mean a lot of enthusiasm however having been with mulitipe business partners finding one is the hardest part, I would not recommend you to share your business with anyone, that person ideally needs to live near you and speak on a daily or at least weekly basis. Any queries just contact me Jordan Jordan Boon | BSc Mathematics for Finance & ManagementT: 02392 984 667 | M: 07752 066 66793 Palmerston Road, Southsea, Portsmouth, PO5 3PR E: jordanboon0@gmail.comW: www.thetshirtman.co.uk The company accepts no liability for the content of this email, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided, unless that information is subsequently confirmed in writing. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. Please consider the environment before printing this email

Aarif Jamani CEO at Blue Diamond Equities

August 4th, 2015

Olumide, I'd be interested in hearing more. Please send me details as the small outline you've provided cannot possibly be enough to make a decision. Thanks AJ

Lalit Sarna Business & Technology Leader

August 4th, 2015

Kudos to you for staying motivated, single founder gigs are hard and lonely. I feel for you,  Its' just super hard to get an idea off the ground, and even much harder to scale it. 

Building upon Christopher's response, I think the one way to think about the equity split is to evaluate how much of the work is left.  Even when you close seed, you still have majority of the work ahead of you. From what you say, I think 99% of the work is still needs to be done.

Focusing on how a co-founder can he help and how much of the remaining load do you expect him to share will help in the process of creating an equitable relationship.   

If you are focused on holding on to large majority of the shares, the a possible way would be to create validation through a funding event or better yet getting some traction. At this point risk vs reward dynamics would have changed some and you could shift your focus towards invested employees as opposed to a co-founder. 

Hope this helps.

Karl Schulmeisters Founder ExStreamVR

August 8th, 2015

>> I am discouraged to see that busy schedules and lack of interest until the big bucks are rolling is affecting commitment of close friends and family<<

Welcome to being an entrepreneur in a startup.  Your call as to which is more important