Solopreneur, the Singles Dilemma and discrimination against single founders in Silicon Valley.
This is part of a series 7 Lessons To Pick A Co-Founder. This is for the Romantic Comedy addict business owner.
It was originally produced as a chapter for a book by Tim Draper and Draper University.
Think of it as girls’ night out meets Business 101.
Lesson 2: Solopreneur, the Singles Dilemma
Back in 2006, Paul Graham wrote one of his famous essays “The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups” and named being a single founder as the number one reason to set yourself up for failure.
As if it was a vote of no-confidence that the business owner couldn’t talk any of her or his friends into starting a business together.
This bias against solopreneurs can have negative consequences; I’ve seen a lot of great, passionate single founders getting co-founders out of nowhere one week before applying to Y Combinator just because they don’t want to be discarded for being single.
The worst comes ahead when things get more complicated.
The Stigma Of Being Single
This stigma against solopreneurs is the same stigma we have for single people. As a woman in my 20s and as a founder, I have experienced it.
Once in a business meeting, I was asked by a prominent venture capitalist why I am still single. Not knowing what to answer, I started questioning the purpose of the question.
Was that question to know if I was looking for a partner and it will be a distraction from my startup? Or it meant that I had something wrong, or why I couldn’t have attracted a man to marry me? I will never know.
I answered, “I haven’t met the guy” and carried on. But it left me a similar taste when a friend wants to set you up.
They cannot think of any other reason, but you two are single. As if you cannot be a complete human without your other half, right?
Singlism is real
In the book Singled Out, Bella DePaulo, a social scientist, coined the term “singlism” to describe discrimination against singles. And in the startup world, this is no exception.
If a founder is single, they are more likely not to receive venture capital or get into an incubator or accelerator.
And research shows that “solo founders take 3.6x longer to reach scale stage compared to a founding team of two”.
Solopreneur Doesn’t Mean Alone
Call me unusual, but I prefer to stay single and being a solo-founder. Being a solopreneur doesn’t mean doing all the work, not hiring people, or not delegating.
Being a solopreneur means the responsibility lies on you, but also that your business can grow as much as you do and evolve with you.
Yes, building a new venture is hard not only for the number of chores that you have to do but because it’s mentally challenging.
And yes, having someone by your side is great, but only if it’s the right partnership. It’s the same if you are in the wrong marriage; if you don’t split the chores 50-50, you end up with double the chores.
If you enjoyed this article, you will like the first article Don’t Marry A Starnger In Las Vegas, or the next article Try Different Flavors, The Key For a Diversified Team.