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Business News/ News / Business Of Life/  When two bosses share a home
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When two bosses share a home

For some couples starting up together may not be ideal. Instead, they each choose to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, drawing support, inspiration and learning from the other’s journey

Photo: iStockPremium
Photo: iStock

For the past few years, Abhishek Gupta, who runs a real estate analytics firm CRE Matrix in Mumbai, has been helping his wife Prachi get the marketing right to scale up her speciality food startup, Yellow Apron. “We’ve been working together a bit, but our businesses are completely separate, and we wouldn’t want it any other way."

Though both understand the challenges of starting up and scaling, they know they can’t ever work together as co-founders. “Our styles of working are very different. I am curt and clinical in business, and she’s more patient and not very aggressive," says Abhishek, 41. “We’d end up arguing about things if we worked together all day," he says, laughing.

Starting and scaling a business brings many challenges, and for couples with children and other responsibilities, it’s more common for one partner to hold on to a job while the other takes the plunge. Then there are couples who choose to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, drawing support and learning from each other, and make it work by balancing the personal and the professional, risks and all.

Bengaluru resident Lizzie Chapman, co-founder of fintech startup ZestMoney, can’t imagine anything worse than pairing up with her husband Gautam Mago, co-founder and general partner of VC firm A91 Partners.

“It just wouldn’t work," she says. Having individual businesses, however, has resulted mutual respect, understanding and empathy for each other’s work and what they are trying to achieve.

“We don’t bicker over small things or household chores anymore as we have larger roles that we care about. You also don’t feel guilty about working too hard because both of us are aiming for something more. And finally, there are two sets of celebrations you get to have when things go well. You enjoy and appreciate the other person’s little wins because you know how hard it is," says Chapman.

LENDING A HAND

On any given day, Bengaluru’s Anuradha and Devendra Agarwal have to split their time between their individual startups and their two children. While Anuradha, 34, is the founder of Multibhashi, a language learning platform, Devendra, 37, is the co-founder of co-working space Instaoffice Business Solutions, and founder of boutique investment bank Dexter Capital Advisors.

Naturally, personal life gets hectic, especially with children as young as 7 and 5, but what makes the juggling worthwhile is satisfaction of working on something they each love. “We both enjoy our work a lot. So, having less personal time doesn’t frustrate us," says Anuradha.

In Delhi, Chandrika and Nakul Pasricha, echo this sentiment.

“We each run a startup and understand what the other is going through," says Chandrika, 45, founder of Flexing It, a marketplace for short-term, skilled consultants. Nakul, 46, is director and chief executive of PharmaSecure, which protects brands against counterfeiting. Since both their businesses are in the B2B space, they have a lot to talk about, which has made the relationship stronger, says Nakul.

Even though Anuradha’s startup doesn’t share common ground with Devendra’s, they help each other with hiring, marketing and organizational structuring. “I network with founders, while he has the investor community. The synergy is amazing," Anuradha says.

Likewise, the Pasrichas use each other as sounding boards. “We keep the discussion to the strategic level. I believe you should make suggestions and step back because it’s the other person’s business. Too much meddling will be counterproductive," Nakul says.

DIVISION OF TIME

Finding time together can be challenging though, and they make the best of what they get. When Chandrika founded her venture in 2014 (Nakul had started a decade earlier), they decided on a five-day week, but obviously, work spills into weekends. “We coordinate any work responsibilities on the weekend and plan meeting friends and family. We realize that this journey (of building a business) is a marathon in which downtime is important," Chandrika says. Both have taken offices close to home to reduce commute time.

The Agarwals convert work trips into family vacations. For instance, when both were invited to the Startup India event in Goa, they took their children. “We selected sessions and attended individually. When we were invited to an event in Vietnam, we turned it into a vacation," says Anuradha.

Although Lizzie and Gautam hardly get time with each other, they both share a love for reading and talk about books.

“Be okay with the randomness and ambiguity. Don’t worry too much about planning," she suggests.

MONEY TALK

With the uncertainty that running a startup brings, the couples say it’s important to sort out finances. Else, it can be detrimental to the relationship.

“We both became entrepreneurs after long stints in the corporate world and so, had savings and the financial security to take the risk. In fact, we openly discussed our finances and then put our respective savings into the businesses. A big learning has been that everything takes longer—revenue, getting investors—so you need to continuously decide how much family money you will invest in your individual ventures based on future plans, especially retirement," says Chandrika.

Nakul says it’s important for couples to define their risk appetite and figure out business and life goals. “Businesses will have ups and downs. There may be times when one is doing well and the other isn’t. It’s important to be sensitive to the other’s situation at that point in time."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rashmi Menon
"Rashmi Menon writes on diverse topics and is beat-agnostic. But you will find her mostly covering the intersection between work and life, trends in workplaces, profiles of business leaders, tech and culture, environment and lifestyle for Mint Lounge. She is based in Mumbai. "
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Published: 04 Mar 2020, 09:45 PM IST
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