"I assume full responsibility" - What it means for a startup founder
"I assume full responsibility."
Although this article frames the above mantra in a mission critical context, it is as relevant to the startup founder as it is to the medical and airline industries. After all, many startups fight for their very survival everyday, racing to charm investors as their cash zero dates draw nearer.
Startup founders are unusually brilliant, passionate or perceptive in one or a few specific areas (which was what gave them confidence to strike out in the first place), but it may be beyond them when they are expected to know everything and fix anything that goes wrong in the company. To me, the clearest indicator of whether a company will succeed is when all members of the founding team are fanatically focused on how to best move the company forward instead of assigning blame when things go haywire.
On another note, most investors have a healthy wariness of solo founders, who may lose the motivation to persevere when circumstances are bleak after years of bootstrapping. At FocusTech Ventures, we think that a startup should ideally have 3 founders, among which there is a combination of both tech and non-tech founders.
At this point, I would like to attempt two analogies:
Scenario 1: Max is an exceptionally good business development guy, trained in business and communications. He sees a industry niche with great potential and decides to create his own technology startup - he would run sales and marketing, and outsource all the tech development work to a third party agency. The startup never gained enough traction to take off, because the agency delivered exactly what Max had ordered and nothing more, and Max did not not have enough of a background to know the implications of his decisions.
Scenario 2: Caleb is a gifted coder who has no interest in branding and business development. He feels that a good technology product will naturally be recognized and appreciated by users. After hacking together a beta launch, Caleb was surprised at the extremely low user traction. He did not understand that while his product might be technically sound, with a flexible infrastructure that could be easily scaled to accommodate user surges, the basic product was not at all appealing to his target users.
If Max had a tech co-founder, or Caleb had a business co-founder, things could have turned out very differently. Here is some very practical advice that tech founders might also want to consider when it comes to choosing their non-tech founders.