I’ve long held that two is a good number of (co)founders. One is difficult because you don’t have a true thought partner to talk to, or to tell you when you might be being crazy. To everyone else, you’re the CEO and the boss, and that power dynamic mitigates what they are willing to tell you.
Three can lead to a “two on one” situation, which can be destabilizing. It doesn’t always have to be unstable, but it is a risk.
Four or more and the equity cuts start getting pretty small for cofounders.
Douglas Merrill (CEO of Zestcash, one of our portfolio companies) has a nice post in HuffPo about how to work best with a cofounder that is well worth reading in its entirety. I paraphrase his five rules as follows:
- Be different, but not too different
- Share core values
- Compromise on work styles
- Overcommunicate to the team about your relationship, agreements and disagreements
- Find a trusted tie breaker