"CoFounderator" - our vision for a new incubator / accelerator model, aimed at improving the current success/failure rates for startup companies and reducing many of the challenges and frustrations that young and/or first-time entrepreneurs will inevitably face - in part by helping to address some of the most persistently-pervasive problems and pitfalls, about which they are most likely to look back back one day and lament: "I wish I had known then, what I know now." **
...as well as numerous ReThinkingStartups.com Thoughts & Theories - including a few big ones:
- lack of self-awareness in founders,
- inability to attract great and complementary co-founders,
- the ubiquitous presence of misinformation about the realities of startups, and
- that many startups fail in part because of #StatusQuoBias
**[Spoiler Alert: We believe that some of the more experienced, analytical, and objectively-observant members of startup communities DO actually know NOW many of the things that future founders will some day WISH they had known now.]
Just because you have the [insert something GREAT] doesn't mean you also have the [insert something else, equally important] to be successful.
1B. ...and/or many founders will “settle” (either quickly or eventually) for a less-than-ideal fit.
2A. Many early-stage startups (pre-funding, pre-revenue, pre-traction) can’t offer enough compensation — to employees, exec-level management, co-founders, whomever — in terms of guaranteed money and/or excitement about the potential value of stock — to pry truly great people away from whatever else they’re working on…
2B. 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 95% of startups fail, there is realistically a less-than-5% chance of startup stock ever having real/liquid value. (Admittedly over-simplified)
3A. People who are truly great at what they do (via natural strengths/talent or expertise developed from experience) 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).
3B. 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 work SMARTER (and more efficiently), you should (theoretically) be freeing up many more hours — to potentially work on a second or even a third startup — without too much negative effect on your first/primary venture.
***WHAT IF MORE STARTUPS - at least initially - WERE STARTED WITH PART-TIME CO-FOUNDERS?***
A) It would decrease the compensation needs of GREAT Co-Founders if they were able to keep the security of their full-time gig - OR -
B) It would (if desired) allow GREAT Co-Founders to participate in 2, 3, 4 or more of these "Starter Startups" - potentially many startups under the umbrella of a single "CoFounderator" building/program - thus increasing the likelihood that one (or more) would be a WINNER!
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. This model obviously won’t work for every type of startup or every type of entrepreneur. (Speed to market is more/less important for some startups. 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 we were all REQUIRED to multi-task regularly:
The “CoFounderator” (More Thoughts on the Potential Model)
- putting multiple horses in the race with unique models 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 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!
True, your progress will likely not be AS fast as if you had 100% of a team’s time/effort/focus on one venture. But,
A) this is for situations where either that's not feasible or
B) this is for startups where speed to market isn't do-or-die and the (slightly?) slower pace is outweighed by the benefits of decreasing: costs, search time, risk of less-than-ideal options, etc. - or C) for this guy:
The details will undoubtedly take some time to evolve... 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.
Actively Seeking Experienced Entrepreneurs (particularly those in the ATLANTA STARTUP COMMUNITY), with whom all/most/any of the above really resonated...
P.S. 10-Second Thought Exercise
STEP 2: Read them again, this time MAKE A SELECTION from the drop-down menus.
A) IMAGINE that you have...
...the very real potential to be HUGE - and make MILLIONS of dollars!!!
B) NOW, imagine that you...
...actually take it to the next level and truly realize your (multi-million-dollar) potential!