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I believe that being a solo founder contributed to the failure of my startup. In short, it puts a lot of pressure on yourself, that can't be split with other members of the team. If the ship is sinking, you have to go down with it. Other friends and mentors can offer support, but they're not in the same boat as you. When times are tough, founders can help pull each other through.

I think the reasons described in the OP are more about having the wrong founding team. This is also why we have things like vesting - if someone decides not to work full time, consult elsewhere then they should lose part of their shareholding.

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Don't take this the wrong way, but your entire rationale for having co-founders seems to be based on fear and negativity. Your comment implies that you're most interested in providing yourself with the comfort that somebody else is taking risk too and will be there to drown with you when the ship sinks.

Per my other comment, this is simply the wrong reason to bring on a co-founder. If you truly aren't confident in the opportunity you've identified and don't feel comfortable owning your pursuit of it, convincing two or three other people to come along for the ride isn't going to prevent failure. In fact, it's probably only going to make the process of failing even more stressful.

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It's not about fear of failing. I wouldn't do it again unless I was convinced the venture would be successful (and I think there's a significantly increased chance of that, based on what I learnt during the failed startup and since).

What I'm saying is that having equal co-founders gives you the ability to share the workload, emotional strain and get through the pain barrier.

It's obviously not impossible to build a huge business as a single co-founder, but it's unlikely that I'd want to do it again!

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Given the base rate of failure for all startups, simply not failing places you in a high percentile for overall success.

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This is probably skewed by finance and a small number of extremely well paid bankers, hedge fund traders etc.

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I've been living here for a few years, and the main killer has always been rent. I've been able to get this down by sharing with others, learning about nice but cheaper neighbourhoods (I live in Putney now), and being prepared to commute 30-45 minutes in to central London.

Aside from travel (~£120/month), other costs are similar to elsewhere in the UK. There are decent, well priced (<£10-15 per head) places to eat, drink etc.

A salary in the £20-30k range would require careful money management, but you can live comfortably on £30k+.

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The urgency to interview, followed by the abrupt halt in communication isn't something that is unique to Silicon Valley or engineering positions. I had it a lot in London a couple of months ago for mostly product jobs.

It's incredibly unprofessional / downright rude - especially when so much pressure is put on to get you through the interview process quickly. It also means that I now have a negative opinion of a number of companies - and advise friends against applying or interviewing there if approached.

I've been in a position of hiring before, and while it's not nice to tell someone that they haven't got the job, it's the polite thing to do. Most people are reasonable, and it increases the chances of them recommending your company to others.

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I have had similar experiences as well with the slow feedback on the interview. Although I cannot confirm this, but I have heard that the lack of communications is their way of avoiding any litigation action from the candidate. They fear that any rejection can be mis-interpreted by the candidate in such a way that litigation is possible. So no communications equates to no chance of litigation.

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'pg says that VC companies never say no to a company.

I think this is just the "shit rolls downhill" version. Companies don't want to ever say no to a candidate. They can always come back to you later.

But, really, if anyone should know how much the "never say no" routine sucks, it's the companies hunting for VC.

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    also get used to befuddling even competent recruiters, at one startup I did almost every job in the place at one time or another, when looking for a new job it drove the recruiters crazy trying to place me
I had this problem - recruiters want a job title to pigeon hole you with. Their brains explode when they can't do this.

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Yeah, they don't like it when your answer is "everything" to the question, "What did you do at _____?".

I've since changed it to "Everything, but tell me what you're looking for and I'll tell you about my experiences in that realm."

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Unfortunately I'm not a programmer (I can write enough code to be dangerous) - but more of an ops/product/sales type person instead, so it was a bit harder for me to find something.

I was also surprised at how long it took our developer to find a new role - he was extremely good, got first interviews quickly but it took companies a long time to make a decision. And we're in London, where those skills are in very high demand.

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In Berlin we have two open ops positions ;-)

" but it took companies a long time to make a decision"

Yes, a lot of companies get that wrong, sometimes we do too. But we strive to have interviews as fast as possible and make decisions within a week, most often the same day as we do not consider it fair letting people wait on a decision (and it rarely gets better with time).

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It's definitely about having the right attitude. I was able to find a job that gives me a lot of autonomy, but also direction. At the moment, I quite enjoy letting someone else make the big decisions for me!

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There's always a freedom/stability trade-off. One thing I discovered with my own startup attempt, and also by watching others, is that being completely out there on your own can be a real pain in the butt. You have to hustle, and you have to spend a lot of time doing things you don't enjoy doing that are done for you in a larger employer.

I might do the independent thing again, but I'm going to be a lot more careful and deliberate about it. I've decided that the "throw yourself to the wind and then buckle down" model romanticized in startup cowboy culture is questionable. This time I'm being a spreadsheet nazi, and with my own finances as well as the venture's, and I'm making much more pessimistic assumptions about uptake. I'm also going for something where I can bill customers directly, not something that requires B2B selling. The latter is really hard to do for a little guy. B2B could come later if the product is successful in the open product market.

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The struggle was more around scaling the business. We had income, and raised some seed funding on the back of it (in order to go full time on the project). We didn't take further investment because we knew we couldn't scale and provide the return that investors would have wanted.

While running Vinetrade, I learnt a lot about testing ideas and getting validation with minimal effort. The MVP post was about some of these lessons. If I was starting again, I'd get that validation much more quickly (but it would likely be the same early validation again).

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But if it made enough money to keep yourself and the others in a job then why ever declare it as a failure? Unless it didn't make enough money?

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It didn't make enough to support the team. There was an argument for running it as a side project / one man business, but that wasn't something that I wanted to do (and investors supported/advised when making that decision).

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Cool, thanks for being open about it

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I got this a lot. I think it was the cause of me not getting a few job offers. It's good to pre-empt the concern and be clear about wanting to take what you learnt on to another project.

What I found hardest was trying to explain that I also didn't want the stress and emotional ride of running a company for a while - without coming across as lazy or unmotivated.

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Your last point is a great litmus test. Startups are stressful and emotional by nature, not to mention the ridiculous time commitment required.

Any company that fails to empathise with that is a company worth avoiding.

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I found it helpful to say I wanted to spend at least 50% of my more time focusing on (programming/statistics/marketing/whatever the role was for), as compared to the very generalist role you have to play when owning your own business.

The emotional roller coaster is somewhat implicit in this, as some roles (e.g. customer-facing ones) are much more emotionally demanding than others.

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It's fine wine (£100 per bottle and up). Of which about 80% is Bordeaux.

I calculated those figures by looking at widely used market stats, and then the turnover of the UK's fine wine wholesalers.

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