Love Thy Co-founders
You know the score: the days are getting shorter, the temperature outside is decreasing and so getting a little closer to your fellow beings (ideally, under one blanket…) is just the obvious choice. Indeed, some of our team members are enjoying fall romances or even expecting offspring. Nevertheless, during the past weeks we have spent more time with the people behind inventures.eu than with our significant others. Having met various founders, we figured that we’re not alone. Most of them are working in teams and most of them are spending a considerable amount of time with their business partners.
Moreover, 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 also legal risks (you could, however, argue that these risks are not unbeknownst to partners of the amorous kind) – the two aren’t actually that different. When we talk to startups and their founding teams, we tend to ask the same questions as when hearing of our friends’ romantic endeavours: “So, how did you meet?” “What was it that drew you to one another” “When did you know it was getting serious?” In a similar way, Stanford professor for Entrepreneurship, Tina Seelig, draws seven parallels between starting a business and getting involved in a romantic relationship in her 2009 article “Startup Love”. These impulses inspired us to start a series on the special chemistry between startups’ team members – the Founders Family Portraits – after all, most families evolve from romances.
So, before we take you to the world of professional infatuations, moments of truth and the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing – let us have a look at what professor Seelig found out:
Seelig argues that firstly, both startups and relationships depend on passion. This is the only reason you can overcome problems when they arise and try to figure out unusual solutions to them. And yes, they will arise (despite all the hormones peaking in the beginning…).
Time and Energy
Secondly, they require huge amounts of resources such as 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.
Thirdly, 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.
Fourthly, she gives the advice to not even think of starting more than one company or relationship at the same time, as all of them would be bound to fail. Moreover, society and a lot of potential partners would probably look down on you if you did.
Fifthly, 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. Probably, 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.
Making use of statistics another time, Seelig points out that, sixthly, only one-in-ten startups survive. It doesn’t look much brighter for relationships, when looking at divorce rates. So, you better put all you have into making the new venture work but also be prepared to cut back efforts in case the losses appear never-ending. “Embrace the concept of failing fast and frequently”, she argues.
Move on and learn
Finally, according to the Stanford professor, both entrepreneurs and lovers not only have to embrace failure, but should also move on and learn from their experience. Your next endeavour might just be the right one.
Since most of the founding teams we know behave like they have been married for the last twenty years, we want to shine a light on the stories on how they found the right partners for their startup. Hey, this is giving us new business ideas! Entrepreneurial matchmaking, anyone? Stay tuned.