None of us is as smart as all of us. Right? Teams are smarter and more effective than individuals at challenging tasks, right? Not so fast. New research by Jason Greenberg and Ethan Mollick examines new ventures. They found that solo founders tend to achieve better results, at least in terms of certain metrics, than entrepreneurial ventures founded by a team of people. Here's an excerpt from an NYU summary of the research:
Common wisdom has assumed that the value of having a team is additive or even synergistic, based primarily on the theory that starting a business requires a portfolio of skills and resources that few individuals possess. However, in “Sole Survivors: Solo Ventures versus Founding Teams,” Professor Greenberg and his co-author, Wharton’s Ethan Mollick, showed that companies started by solo founders survive longer and generate more revenue than those started by teams, while not performing significantly differently across various operating categories.
The authors’ unique dataset was comprised of companies that were crowdfunded via the Kickstarter site between 2009 and 2015, were eventually established formally, and whose performance could be followed for several years. For-profit and nonprofit companies were analyzed separately, and collectively they raised $151 million in crowdfunding and generated approximately $358 million in revenue.
Of course, these results do not suggest that teamwork is not essential for a new venture. It speaks to the possible frictions and dysfunctional conflict that can occur when you have multiple founders though. Moreover, it may speak to the speed of decisions in situations where multiple founders must come to an agreement on key strategic choices. Still, one should not conclude that a solo founder does not need a strong team around them. Collaboration is essential in many aspects of a startup, regardless of the structure at the very top.