Only Founder left. What do I say to investors?

I started my venture a few months ago and both of my founders left … one lied and the other simply underestimated the work involved with a startup. I am still motivated to continue as I am about to meet with investors. What do I tell them? The founders had equity but sold them back to the company. Do I go and say I’m a solo founder or do I tell them what happened to the rest of the team? Will that hurt my chance to secure funding?

  • You’re a solo founder so say that. Why air your dirty laundry unless it’s relevant. You don’t go on a date telling her how you’ve been dumped by your exes unless of course you have a child then it might be relevant.

  • Paint a vision of the future not where you’re at right now.

    They’re investing in the “future”.

    You can always tell them you’re looking for a co-founder.

  • I disagree with the others. If you want others to invest into your company play with open cards.

    That doesn’t mean you should tell them every fight and disagreement you had with the confounders, but tell them firmly “we had x confounders who dropped out because they don’t have the vision/private reasons”.

    Otherwise this might bounce back especially if you are successful in the future.

    Then those founders will come, potentially demand money and you will look like a total liar who tricked & lied to investors.

    There is absolutely NOTHING wrong if cofounders or employees drop out, they come and they go. Be professional about it.

    • Nobody said that you’d have to hide this, but there’s no need to start a pitch with “Hi before I begin let me begin with my dirty laundry”.

      Sure when the investors are interested, they will definitely ask about potential issues, you can then be transparent about it.

      Also nobody is telling him to lie either. If the investors specifically ask about past co-founders, he is at liberty to say so.

    • Get your site on, and advertise for cofounders. Then go in as solo until you’ve got your team back together, but at least get on it.

  • I went through this when we had our first customer. In hindsight, it was the best thing because having the potential of money bought out the worst in my ex partners.

    What worked:

    (1) Identify what skill gaps you have to get to MVP (you don’t mention what stage you are at) and find new co-founders quickly; and

    (2) I found it was key to be able to articulate your vision and how you would move towards that; company values, the type of co-founder values (not just skills but how they operate under stress, what would happen is this all doesn’t awry; company proposition; outline key responsibilities. It is like discussing marriage with a virtual stranger. Have the difficult conversations upfront. If they can’t talk about this stuff now, in the “courting” period, then under stress they are definitely not going to when it is a difficult time; and

    (3) remember your own biases and account for them in this process

    With the investors, if you can show you can execute the vision that they are buying into without your co-founder, then mention (only if the investors know you had co-founders) that you split over vision for the company and that you weren’t aligned. That’s all you need to say.

    I found co-founders through friends and acquaintances.

    Good luck

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