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Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup by Brad Feld, David Cohen

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Chapter 16. Don't Go It Alone

Mark O'Sullivan

Don't Go It Alone

Mark is the founder and CEO of Vanilla, which makes forum software that is used to power discussions on more than 300,000 sites across the Web. Vanilla raised $500,000 after completing TechStars in 2009.

Before TechStars, all of the work I did on Vanilla was done alone. While I had the members of the Vanilla community helping me with features and bugs, all new initiatives were mine and all final decisions were made by me. If I decided not to do anything, nothing got done. When I first spoke with David Cohen, he immediately stressed the importance of having at least one co-founder. Having been working alone for so long, I really didn't understand why he felt it was so important. I was absolutely positive that I'd be fine on my own, and in retrospect, I couldn't have been more wrong.

When I set out to find a co-founder, my list of candidates was very short. I needed someone whom I could trust implicitly, had the skills and dedication to do the work, and who I would work well with. These requirements brought the list down to two people. One person was working at Microsoft in Seattle and had just bought a house. He simply couldn't afford to quit working and try to start up a new company. The other person was single, had money saved in the bank, and was coming to the end of a consulting contract. All I needed to do was convince him.

I met Todd ...

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