The "CoFounderator" Incubator/Accelerator Model...

Posted by Jeff Goldblatt on

PART I: A new accelerator/incubator model aimed at improving the current success/failure rates for startup companies.
Part II: A small group of NEW startups - from potentially big tech startups to smaller "Starter Startups" - all currently seeking team members (up to and including Co-Founders!!!
(Info on these startups coming soon!)

The "CoFounderator" Accelerator/Incubator Model - General Premises:

1A. Many founders will spend/waste A LOT OF TIME (months? a year? more?) searching for the right startup team members, particularly Co-Founders!
1B. … and/or many founders will “settle” (either quickly or eventually) for a less-than-ideal fit.

2A. People who are truly great at what they do tend to work faster and more efficiently than those who are average or less-talented — particularly when allowed to focus on exactly what they are great at (without wasting time on more trivial time-consuming tasks that can be better accomplished by others).
2B. We’ve all heard the expression “Work smarter, not harder.” (I believe a corollary is “Work more efficiently with the hours you work, don’t just work more hours.”) So, IF you can work SMARTER (and more efficiently), you should (theoretically) be freeing up many more hours — to potentially work on a second startup (or even a third!?) — without too much negative effect on your first/primary venture.

3A. Many early-stage startups (pre-funding, pre-revenue, pre-traction) can’t offer enough compensation — to employees, C-level talent, co-founders, whomever — in terms of guaranteed money and/or excitement about the (probable) potential value of stock — to pry truly great people away from whatever else they’re working on…
3B. And, realistically, there is a very low probability that the equity component of a startup compensation package will ever be worth anything. Because, if more than 90% of startups fail, there is realistically a less-than-10% chance of startup stock ever having real/liquid value.(Admittedly over-simplified)
3C. But what if a key employee, C-level exec, and/or Co-Founder had equity in 2, 3, or 4 startups? The probability for having at least one startup success in the group goes up by almost 2x, 3x, 4x (not to mention the chances of 2 or more successes?)

4. Smart investors don’t invest in only one company (they invest in many companies — to diversify their portfolio, to mitigate risk, and to increase the odds of having MULTIPLE winners)… So why is it so unheard of (and/or frowned upon) for that same line of thinking to apply to
A) the actual startup company (multiple ventures / business units)?
B) startup founders, c-level execs, and other key team members?
C) and/or why aren’t there more incubator/accelerator startup models that actually encourage the simultaneous pursuit of multiple ventures under umbrella companies that share personnel and resources?

5. We realize this model won’t work for every type of startup or every type of entrepreneur. Some of us can obviously multi-task more effectively than others. And some of us enjoy variety more than others do. But, whether we realize it or not, we ALL have plenty of experience dividing our time and focusing our efforts in multiple directions. Because it wasn’t too long ago that and we were all required to do it regularly…



The concept is a work in progress, but the initial thinking is....

A “Co-Founderator” is a new incubator/accelerator/co-founder-matching model designed to create/launch/grow MORE successful startups with significantly BETTER than average success rates by:

  • putting multiple horses in the race with unique model for equity-sharing
  • attracting/matching/incentivizing more talented startup team members (up to and including C-level executives and Co-Founders)
  • matching skill-sets more effectively
  • more efficient use of use of time and resources
  • assembling “All-Star teams” to work on multiple startups at once (creating a startup “dream team” of sorts, working on and having significant upside in multiple startup ventures at once).
  • On one level, it can be viewed as simply a resource-sharing model; however, not only do CoFounderators share (traditionally-shared resources like) office space, a receptionist, accounting/legal, custodial, etc., but CoFounderators additionally share key personnel, c-level team members, up to and including Co-Founders!

No question, your progress will not be AS fast as if you had 100% of at team’s time/effort/focus on one venture. No question about that. But you cut down on your costs, your search time, your risk of less-than-ideal options, etc. If the difference between launching after 3 months or launching after 6 months is going to be a deal-breaker, than maybe this model isn’t right for you. But we’ve all seen MANY startups that are still searching for those key team members (or co-founders) after 3 months, 6 months, or even longer!

Maybe this is a model that gets implemented within existing incubators, accelerators, or co-working/hybrids like The Atlanta Tech Village, ATDC, Switchyards, etc. (Note: All Atlanta examples because that’s where I’m based.) Or, heck, maybe this is even the type of thing that Venture Capital firms would want to run — if they believe and/or we can prove that this CoFounderator model does, in fact, dramatically increase the success rate of startups.

Regardless, I am interested to hear feedback and hope to get some discussion started about this new twist on existing incubators/accelerators as we experiment with launching several "Startup Whatever" programs...

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