The rise of the Parallel Entrepreneur

Is the Parallel Entrepreneur the ultimate entrepreneur?

Parallel Entrepreneur

The Parallel Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, you are a parallel entrepreneur when you have two or more business ventures that you are developing and growing. The Parallel Entrepreneur is the person who simply can’t do one thing at a time. Typically, this type of entrepreneur will need and want to do multiple startups at the same time. Just as a serial entrepreneur starts one business at a time (in series), a parallel entrepreneur will start any number of businesses at the same time, in parallel. Parallel entrepreneurs are extremely tenacious, intelligent,  persistent and are a source of a never ending stream of good ideas. There are many entrepreneurs who would, if given the opportunity to operate in parallel, produce a number of interesting businesses. Being a parallel entrepreneur is becoming more commonplace as it makes sense to spread the risk and not place all hopes or focus on one business venture or enterprise.

Parallel Entrepreneur examples

Just as venture capitalists spread their risk across numerous business ventures, so do parallel entrepreneurs. Although the entrepreneurial trend seems to be leaning more towards being a successful parallel entrepreneur, it is less advantageous and more of a hinderence in attempting to be a parallel CEO.

  • Kevin Rose: Attempting to build a second company, Revision3, while still running Digg
  • Sam Yagan: Co-founded the file-sharing service eDonkey in 2002 and online dating site okCupid in 2003 (which was shuttered in late summer)
  • Scott Rafer: Former CEO of search engine feedster and now CEO of blog tracker; MyBlogLog, Co-founder of (stealth-mode company aiming to help Web developers) and chairman of, a WiFi hotspot directory.
  • Google: Most companies with innovation department toy and doodle with different ideas and Google is an extreme case of parallel tracking.


Being a Parallel Entrepreneur

The essential part to being a successful parallel entrepreneur is getting the management part right. Each project, once launched, needs focus and attention. Automation of mundane repetitive administration and management tasks needs to be optimised as far as is possible. Once a parallel entrepreneur can make the administration and management part of each project work well, it’s definitely possible to continue operating as a parallel entrepreneur indefinitely (within human limitations). However, entrepreneurship in the general sense of the term is associated with enormous personal risk, particularly financial as well as relentless dedication and focus. Once the correct management structure for a parallel entrepreneur has been established, it’s a matter of focus and execution of each of the project ventures. Knowing how and what to prioritise, if and when problems arise can also be problematic. The work/life balance as a parallel entrepreneur may increase stress as a result of increased workloads and more additional management requirements. The successful execution of any idea is what is crucial.

Challenges in becoming a Parallel Entrepreneur

  1. It requires extraordinary focus to build each successful business as an entrepreneur’s time and attention is divided between projects.
  2. A parallel entrepreneur is perceived to work best in early stage projects.
  3. Some entrepreneurs would rate good decision making and profitability over multi-tasking and parrallel development and view the latter as stretching resources unsustainably thin.
  4. It’s a common misconception that it’s a requirement to have already succeeded at one startup in order to pursue the parallel entrepreneur model.
  5. A parallel entrepreneur is doing multiple things at once because they are using the portfolio of projects as a “hedge” against one or more of the other projects failing (diversifying out specific risk) as opposed to each project bringing value to the others.
  6. The parallel entrepreneur concept works well for startup and very early stage companies where there are few stakeholders and it is easy to maintain a coherent common vision.
  7. There are limitis on what a parallel entrepreneur can parallel on, as set by:
  • Financial capital
  • Mental processing power
  • Communication bandwidth
  • Execution capacity

Today’s definitions related to the resources required (time and capital) to create businesses that generate positive cashflow and potentially large growth will continue to evolve. A parallel entrepreneur can use their efforts in order to leverage off of each other and share momentum.

It’s not unusual for entrepreneurs never to stop thinking and engaging in different ventures. Modern technology entrepreneurs realise that they can leverage the services of the internet, combined with a smart workforce and the right resources to be more productive and efficient. It should be noted that building multiple products/services at the same time is different from building multiple businesses at the same time. The main difference is structure. A typical company may have multiple product areas, each with its own group, managers, engineers, etc. However, a parallel entrepreneur would ensure that each project venture would be a  legally separate entity for the sake of raising outside capital and isolating risk so that one project doesn’t bring down the rest.

If you are a business owner, entrepreneur or manage a small to medium size enterprise and need help and advice with becoming a parallel entrepreneur then contact eCubation today for a FREE consultation.