I'm another single founder. I spent a lot of time looking for cofounders but after a few months without success I decided it was better to create something, even if it wasn't an optimum setup, than to keep spending energy playing matchmaker.
I've found that people have wildly different ideas about both the reason to do a startup, how to execute, what's important, and where to exit. There's a great diversity even among people who know/read a lot about it. In fact, I'm amazed that the multiple founder system works at all. Except for cases where everybody is a college friend or something, it looks like a recipe for a lot of conflict.
Yes, it probably is a recipe for a lot of conflict. But that's part of the idea. If you and your partners work the same and think the same, a lot of the point of having a partner is lost.
The question is not whether or not you and your cofounder disagree. The question is whether you can nonetheless find a way to make decisions and move on. If every disagreement causes your progress to stop dead, you've got a problem. If every disagreement is resolved in favor of the person with the loudest voice, you've got a problem. But it is in fact possible to make progress even with a team full of people who disagree, provided everyone is sufficiently open-minded, mutually respectful, and willing to indulge in whimsical experiments.
A lot of startup stories contain moments in which the cofounders had big disagreements; e.g. the time when Steve Wozniak had to be dragged kicking and screaming into quitting his day job with Hewlett-Packard.
I'm a big believer and promoter in small, highly-performing teams. Teams get that way by having a lot of different skills and worldviews and still managing to mesh. So I'm on-board with your comment.
What I've found, however, is that cofounders are especially tricky to integrate. I think once you have a running app/business it gets easier, but that entire process of taking something fuzzy and making it concrete is just a very difficult process for some folks. People are really good at BSing! Heck, if there was a prize for sitting around talking about startups it'd be a big bunch of folks winning it (myself included at times). But once you move past idle talk and start feeling for a market and a problem? It's not so sexy any more. And then when you're talking about all the hours that's required? People have a tendency to melt into the woodwork.
The ones that are extremely motivated are usually that way because they're emotionally attached to some concept -- and that concept may or may not be workable in the market. Which means it's like pulling teeth trying to have an honest conversation about viability.
Then there are the technology bigots, of course, and the "idea" guys.
I don't know about other startups, but the one I'm working on now is a pretty big commitment -- big enough that my "day off" is basically taking a long lunch today and surfing HN. The rest of the week, day and night, I'm working.
I don't see that combination of willingness to work on something that might not be hot at first and also being able to pivot when needed as being very prevalent. It's probably just me, though.
Starting a company has been compared to getting married, and while plenty of people have met their future spouses on dating sites, they don't meet, talk a few times, and then get hitched. Perhaps the missing bit is finding something people can work on for a while without the commitment of a company (sort of like dating...).
Agreed. That's why if you check out the concept of virtual company, it's a great way to start working with someone else with limited committment.
To me, first and foremost, the fact that you don't have any out of pocket expenses is a good thing, it eliminates one barrier to entry. Virtual companies achieve that. In comparison, joining a "real" incorporated startup as co-founder, the first thing you do is split the legal costs and buy your shares. So right there, a few thousand dollars before you even know if you should work together. And there is no "undo" button, unlike virtual companies.
That's also why in the co-founders meetup I ask the presenters to not only present their business, but reveal a bit of their own personality. I believe that compatibility as co-founders comes equally from being passionate about the same things but also being compatible personality-wise (read this http://blog.fairsoftware.net/2009/11/19/first-co-founders-me... for more on the topic).