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What Makes A Startup Successful?

Angel investors Ron Conway and David Lee share some controversial findings on entrepreneurial myths at TechCrunch Disrupt 2011.

Parneet Gosal
Parneet Gosal on May 24, 2011.

In the year since launch, TechCrunch Disrupt has lived up to their name by showcasing novel companies or ideas such as GroupMe at their New York and San Francisco evnts. In 2011, they plan on going global with a launch in Beijing, China planned for later in the year. Yesterday marked the first day of Disrupt’s second New York event. Held in the cavernous Pier 94, the morning was characterized by some lively onstage debates.

Angel investors Ron Conway and David Lee shared some controversial findings on entrepreneurial myths and how to plan for success. Findings from a survey of 300 founders helped answer three leading questions – are co-founders more successful than single founders, does age matter, and are repeat founders more likely to be successful than first time founders. Age and gender are two hotly debated subjects in the startup world right now.

  • Not surprisingly perhaps, 84%-89% of successful startups tend to be spearheaded by co-founders, rather than single founders. Facebook is a notable example of a “suite” of successful co-founders while Zynga is an example of a single founder.
  • The data seems to suggest that younger founders do disproportionately better, especially in late stage startups. Of startups with an actual or potential exit valuation of $25+ million, 47% of the founders are younger than 30 years vs. 67% for startups with exit valuation of $500+ million.
  • Similarly, repeat founders do disproportionately better in startups with $500+ million in exit valuation – 90% founders in this category are repeat founders. Notable examples are of course Sean Parker of Napster and Facebook fame. Sean is currently on startup#5.

Stay tuned for more coverage of Quora Founder Charlie Cheever’s interview by Disrupt investor Chris Dixon and Foursquare Founder, Dennis Crowley’s interview by Mike Arrington.

TechCrunch Disrupt

Image by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

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