12 Years Together, a co-founder journeyFeatured
Cofounders come and go. We hear it all the time. Contrary to the mainstream advice to not mix friends and business, we say, yes, mix friends and business. Take the strength of female friendships especially and leverage the depth of that solidarity to transact financially. Be friends first and take the leap. Or start with a strong set of contractual boundaries and end up friends in the end. I’ve heard from the hyper successful men of early Silicon Valley (and actually it was someone’s sister) who said it was the close friendships a few men held, not their casual networking, that helped them build massive empires. My cofounder’s success is mine, mine is hers.My journey with Becka was as friends first. We met in college and loved to dream together and shared a lot of the same values. Like any good relationship, we had mutual friends, met each other’s families, and had been raised by mothers who’d instilled a great deal of commitment into our genetics. We were allowed to fail, but we had to figure out how to make it work. That’s been the throughline of our friendship and our company. Here are some things we’ve learned along the way. And by the way, we still like each other after many years of a daily practice of friendship and profitable business. Fight for the relationship.It’s OK to make the choice that puts the friendship or the people first instead of the business. Whether that means a hire choice goes your way or hers, or deciding together to turn down business that would have been possible good for revenue but would put us through a hellish month, we’ve found that often the hardest decisions are whether to put the company first or us. It may have been doing company first that got us to this stage, but we’re doing us first now. And, praise be, we have a team and capital now, so the choice isn’t as do or die. Give it air.When we hit a point where the debate is too frustrating and repetitive, we just leave. It’s never been so big or immediate that it couldn’t wait for a new day. It’s actually the fastest way we’ve found to a solution. Have different skill sets but similar values.We are different from each other and always will be. But our values always line up. Even when we took an infusion of venture capital, we were there to ground each other.Values are going to matter for how you treat people, how your customers feel about the brand, and how you stand together for the long term. How you treat others is going to be how you treat her and visa versa. For us, our differences were split between soft skills and organizational skills. One was pulling in customers, one was building systems to support the infrastructure. But we always both cared to treat people with respect. Trade off being strong.This is a beautiful thing. We struggle, as women, to always keep up and at it, but that can be a recipe for disaster and burnout. I’ve passed off calls to Becka when I’ve had family emergencies or needed mental health days or asked her help on letting people go when I’ve been too embarrassed or ashamed to do it solo. Plan time outside of the office to dreamThe office is so full of distractions and emails. About once a quarter, we’ll book a cheap Airbnb or cash in some points and get out of the routine to remember why we are doing Helpr. For us it comes back to helping women, respecting family, honoring women’s contributions to culture and the collective nurturing of new generations, and knowing that we have full control to manifest what we want and the life we chose was the one where we set out on this quest together. All the while, we get to be friends. Save the Marriage.Your cofounder is your ride or die. It’s never going to be perfect, but our hope is that in the end, we aren’t focused on the little shitty stuff along the way, but on the mountain we scaled together with team work. I’ve seen breakups before that seemed avoidable because someone’s big bad Dad got involved or something else. Why is he here? It’s not his company and it didn’t have to end that way. We have a lot to do as women. Please keep your dope progressive, cool companies alive. Want to find the right co-founder? Someone needs to make this NYT fall in love list for co-founders. Let’s get some brainstorming in the comments. CEO and Co-Founder of Helpr, Kasey Edwards has many years of experience in the childcare industry. She grew Helpr from a boutique babysitting agency into a nationwide network of sitters servicing the top media, finance, and technology companies. As a former foster parent and power users of her own platform, Kasey is driven by her mission of achieving universal parent inclusion in the workplace.