Do You Need a Cofounder?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but entrepreneur Geoff Lewis of  Topguest — a two-month-old travel service that’s exiting private alpha soon — explains the two reasons he doesn’t think so in a post just published on Business Insider. 

Lewis, who worked briefly at Peter Thiel’s Clarium Capital Management, argues that a startup no longer needs one person to sell and another to build because neither job is as complex or capital-intensive as it once was. 

“In the ‘90s, you needed $5 million, a team of engineers, and a year just to get a consumer internet site launched.” You needed a cofounder “solely focused on building,” he says. Today, he observes, “software is disposable, the cloud is omnipresent, and meaningful products can be built and shipped in a matter of weeks.”

As for sales, Lewis points to the cheap or free marketing available through Twitter and Facebook, along with vastly improved accessibility to VCs and business partners, thanks to blogs and applications like Skype. (What he doesn’t mention and might have is the wealth of information and advice now available — often instantaneously —  to any entrepreneur.)

While the piece isn’t a revelation, it does make me wonder about the “central tenet” he’s trying to flip on its head, that entrepreneurs must have a cofounder, no matter whether they actually found the company with someone. I worry that it’s true.

One candid entrepreneur recently confided to me that last year, he plucked an old classmate out of his job — someone he hadn’t been in touch with in a decade — because investors wouldn’t meet with him on his own. Soon after he landed the meetings — and financing.