We're not Ralph and Alice. We are married founders who spend a lot of time together. The banter is generally good and we work seven days. We are friends who respect each other and share the same values.
Team is an integral part of successful startups. People not only have to like the project it is they are working on together, they also have to problem-solve in the midst of unknowns and time and budget constraints. Startup life as founders exposes the fissures and foundations in your relationship quickly.
Chris and I met in 2008 at a startup.
We were peers -- he was leading the software engineering team and I was responsible for content. The startup was a semantic search engine for business news. Part of our work involved understanding and undoing assumptions about what was there and how it worked.
There was a lot of time spent understanding current (and future processes) and then horse-trading over urgencies. That was where our respect for one another became foundational. We each appreciated how requests for, "Can't you just change to this?" often came with not insignificant implications, or would not be possible without an overhaul of the system.
We pitched the senior team a few times -- with strategies for making things efficient and less brittle. We learned how to support one another, and our teams had a good energy and shared spirit. We also saw the company fail together and some relationships implode.
We started dating after a typo in an instant message resulted in a conversation and a first date. There is a whole different level of learning and partnership when you are both divorced with children. We figured that out pretty quickly. Building a relationship with adolescent children is more immersion then strategy. The pattern the boys saw -- and see -- is two people who believe in one another supporting one another. Shared tasks and different talents.
The advantage we have as a married founding team is there is an entire different undercurrent that drives us to make things work. We are direct, and we are kind. We believe in why we do what we do.
We have a relationship with one another and with the children. We are forced to be disciplined. And it also made us consider carefully what that commitment meant to us personally, professionally and financially when the company was founded.
We know we are a strong team because we're constantly working together to make changes. We can have frank discussions and still be fair. It is not a honeymoon. It's real. It doesn't end. The narrative is ours.