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Why being a solo founder is tricky

June 03, 2021

AirMiners Launchpad officially kicked off its first batch this week!

Looking back over the applications, one of biggest and most common challenges I see for early teams is it's just one person.

Starting a company to remove gigatons of carbon from the air is hard. Doing this by yourself (solo-founder) makes it even harder.

And we need lots of new companies working on carbon removal to get to gigaton scale. So how might we make this process smoother for solo-founders?

The following are tips and questions based on what I've learned from interviews, pitch decks, and other founders who made it work... but no magical answers. Therefore, if you read this and you're like "omg, what solo-founders really need is X", hit reply and lemme know what X is, and I can pass it along to founders I work with.

Overall, if you're a solo-founder, I recommend watching the video this week. It has a lot more detail and thoughts than I can stick in this email.

  1. Get out and meet other people: harder than it looks. The first 100 people you meet with likely aren't your co-founder. Brian Armstrong (CEO, Coinbase) learned this when he posted on Hackernews after a year of searching.
  2. Consider friends: you can work things out with friends. But this comes with the con that you likely overlap a lot with your friends. The point isn't to be comfortable. Which leads to the next point...
  3. Get diverse: Gigaton scale carbon removal requires proper gigaton scale thinking. And the way to really get there is to make sure you cover a lot of ground from the start, and are in a good position to continue doing so for at least 5 years. Having a diverse team from the start may seem less comfortable or more work now but it's an investment in your success that's difficult to patch up later.
  4. Know what you need: Maybe you're Brian Armstrong on day 1, or maybe you're 365 days into it posting on Hackernews and you know exactly what you need. If you're on day 1, meeting your co-founder might not be your next adjacent step, maybe what's next is you need an advisor to just give you a nudge.

All that said, this is hard and I want to help early teams succeed.

If you've found a great team, let me know what worked well for you.

Also hit me up if your company failed because of problems forming the founding team. Failure can be more instructive than success, so also hit me up if you have stories or tips.

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