Till the next venture do us part

Founders breaking up and companies failing because of founder strife has become the norm. In fact, this is one of the top 3 reasons for startup failure. Hell, why just companies, even relationships seem to be failing across the spectrum.

I don’t profess to be a psychology savant. Neither do I have solutions that delve into the deeper recesses of the human mind, backed by data on research conducted at an Ivy-league school.

What do I know is that a simple belief predicated on several conversations can have a remedy  – at least for the life-cycle of any venture.

What is paramount for founders to realize is that either by accident or design (in most cases it always is a mix – serendipity has a role to play no matter how much some of our metric driven brethren may deny it) the group has come together to make the damn thing work. They are in it to see it, hopefully, all the way to the end that leads to the pot of gold.

All the baser instincts of competitiveness, aggressiveness, pulling a fast one, rubbing the proverbial nose into the ground, the primal whoop of celebration after a particularly vicious scrap should be reserved for all that the startup is against – vicious marketplace, demanding customers, frenemy partners, changing technology etc.

You have 6,999,999,9XX other individuals to whet your competitive juices over and go to battle with. Why do it to the group that got together to do something meaningful!

Conflict is hardly an issue when things are going swimmingly well. But it rears its ugly head when there are differences in thinking on strategy, raising funds, sharing equity, hiring and eventually an exit.


It is always a good idea to have a place to go to that removes the haze around all these issues and boils it down to a fundamental thought – you are better off taking on all externalities to the startup, as a team, rather than taking on the startup team itself.

The goal should be that no matter how it works – whether you make a pile of money or it crumbles into the dust, you should still part as friends. You should still be able to get together for a drink and smile wistfully or happily (whatever the case may be) and be able to move on to the next venture with valuable learnings.

All external help like coaches and mentors can do wonders once this primal relationship is resolved and kept humming smoothly.

If it doesn’t work out this way, you should be mindful enough to know that you got exactly what you were trying to do to your co-founder and that is going to be driven by whether you wanted to stand by him or stab him in the back.

I have seen magic happen if this fundamental premise is respected. I’ve had those conversations myself and being part of another core group, can see the benefits of having something like this adhered to.

Try it – you have nothing to lose, other than the heartache of soured startups and relationships.

For all the views, comments and likes, I’d like a say a big thank you. Please keep the comments coming, it’s the only way to initiate a dialog.