The rise of the co-Founders

It is no longer a technology race, its a marketing race. Almost any software can be built or copied at a similar quality, its all up to marketing and customer grabbing at early stages of the product life cycle.

Recently I noticed an increasing trend of using the term “CoFounder and CEO of” on linkedin. The majority of the self described CEOs are fresh graduates or have just joined the IT field. Few of these startups are significant or were ever heard of out of the scope of their owners’ immediate circle of friends. It doesn’t stop at tech startups really it seems like everybody is trying to build something to call his own for a whole array of different reasons be it financial or the mere thirst to get the bragging rights or even in some cases peer pressure. (i.e. “in” people and fashion blogs)

Silicon valley parodied the culture of launching irrelevant startups quite nicely

Silicon valley parodied the culture of launching irrelevant startups quite nicely

The notion of being a middle-class salary man is no longer fashionable, As a generation we were raised that each and everyone of us is unique and destined for greatness settling into a life of corporate obscurity is not something can cope with easily. Financial reasons play a role here as well as startups appear to some as a quick way to make it into the double commas club (millionaires club) after all how hard can it be to build up a company and then sell it later for a couple of millions right. Given how the entry barrier is particularly low the common perception is that you don’t have to put a lot on stake in order to build a tech startup, All whats needed is a good idea and a couple of customer and things will organically evolve. Everybody can be an over night entrepreneur.

A website can be built and launched and wouldn’t cost more than a month’s salary hosting the product on the cloud can guarantee a easily affordable operational cost, in theory you can run the website forever securing the “entrepreneur” status for as long as you have it online. I’ve written an article not so long ago about the rise of social entrepreneurs in post 25 January Egypt and how few if any ever make a profit. People confuse having a successful product with having a successful startup, For the first the success is measured by hits/downloads/user-base while for the latter it all comes down to being revenue positive at some point (or at least the prospect of it). More importantly owning your website and URL doesn’t equate being an entrepreneur managing your own startup. Having a killer idea is not as valuable as it used to be, almost any idea can be replicated at an even higher quality what really matters is traction and a growing user base, given the social nature of most products it all comes down to the critical mass of users. Even if you are moving into a new area with no competitors once you achieve anything that resembles a success -and given the low barrier of entry- competition will show up.

Being an entrepreneur and managing your own startup is much more complicated than simply launching a site and getting a couple of hits everyday, there is a certain leap of faith required in order to actually manage your own startup towards success, usually this entails quitting your job and relying on your newly found venture for income. Being a part time entrepreneur almost never works, a CEO/co-founder is expected to spend 16 or 18 hours a day working on his brain child, doing it in the few hours you’ve got left after work would never cut it. So unless you are willing to do that please do not call yourself CEO/Co-Founder of one thing or another.

Still why not do it, with a low entry barrier and almost zero operational cost all of us can be entrepreneurs, the co-founders and CEOs of one thing or another. Profit, value and sustainability are all irrelevant, after all it is all about the bragging rights and the 15 minutes of fame.

**note : To be clear I realise that I sound as if I’m making sweeping generalisations there, however this is not the case, this article is about the type of “entrepreneurs” who do it for all the wrong reasons.

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