Love thy co-founders
You know the score: The days are short, the temperature outside is not all that enviable, and so getting a little closer to your fellow beings is just the obvious choice. Indeed, some of our team are in the middle of a romance, others already had offspring. Yet, during the past months we have probably spent more time with the people behind inventures.eu than with our significant others.
Having met various founders, we figured we were not alone.
While we’d like to think that entering a business relationship involves more risk than engaging in a romantic one – think financial, social, career-related and even legal risks – the two aren’t actually that much different. When we talk to startups and their founding teams, we tend to ask the same questions as when talking to friends about their romantic endeavours: “So, how did you meet?”, “What was it that drew you to one another?” and “When did you know it was getting serious?”
In the light of Valentine’s Day, we’ve decided to look back at one of our very first articles and adapt it to fit the occasion. Coming your way are seven parallels that Stanford professor for Entrepreneurship, Tina Seelig, draws between starting a business and getting involved in a romantic relationship. The foundation for those is her 2009 piece “Startup Love”.
Both startups and relationships depend on passion, Seelig argues. This is the only reason you can overcome problems and find unusual ways to solve them. And yes, problems will arise – despite all the hormones peaking in the beginning…
Time and Energy
Secondly, these relationships require huge amounts of resources like time and energy. If you are not committed to spend a lot of time together or try to execute your business ideas in a professional manner, you fail big time. Bringing empathy, care and eventually love to the table is as challenging as understanding the working style and weaknesses of your co-founders.
In relationships as well as in startups, all parties involved should have an equal stake and bear a decent risk, otherwise it would be too easy to opt out. Also, the evaluation of the shares might be as low in romance as in business; it is up to you to raise your venture’s value.
Next, Seelig gives the following piece of advice: Do not even think of starting more than one company or relationship at the same time, as all of them will be bound to fail. Also, society and a lot of potential partners would probably look down on you if you did.
Here’s your reality check. Seelig dismisses the thought of staying together forever, as in both scenarios the statistics beat you. Things change and life will leave one or the other stone for you to stumble over. Yet successful entrepreneurs as well as happy couples master managing their way through the hurricane – or whatever natural disaster you prefer, in a smart, flexible and innovative way.
Speaking of statistics, Seelig makes sure to point out that only one in ten startups survive. The reality doesn’t seem much brighter for relationships, when looking at divorce rates. So, you better put all you have into making that new venture work but also be prepared to cut back efforts in case the losses do not appear to end. “Embrace the concept of failing fast and frequently,” she adds.
Move on and learn
Finally, both entrepreneurs and lovers not only have to embrace failure, but should also move on and learn from their experience, Seelig concludes. Your next endeavour might just be the right one.
Since most of the founding teams we know behave like they’ve been married for the last 20 years, we want to take this opportunity and wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Perhaps this time with your non-business romance…