Co-founders with a longstanding personal bond have a better chance of building a successful company than those who don’t share, at least, a friendship. After all, they will spend long hours together to ensure their business will flourish. But what if your business partner was your spouse?
Risk-averse investors tend to stray from co-founding couples as the myth of potential chaos spirals the web. The tech world, however, has quite a rich history of married co-founders.
Here are six famous tech companies founded by couples.
1. Alt12 Apps
Founders: Casey Sackett and Jennifer Wong
They met, moved in together, got married and got pregnant all within the span of one year. After having seen each other at various tech events, they started talking. According to Casey, this common interest is an important quality when starting a business together. They hadn’t planned on being co-founders. In fact, they both started by searching the ideal business partner outside of their relationship.
The inspiration for Alt12 Apps dawned on Jennifer when she was five months pregnant. She was looking for a mobile app that would give her information and advice about pregnancy and found nothing of substance. Alt12 is a community built platform for mobile devices that boasts three separate apps: Pink Pad, BabyBump and Kidfolio. Each app covers a specific topic, from fertility to parenting advice.
The company has grown to over seven million downloads with over 1.3m monthly active users. On its own, BabyBump has hit eight million downloads, with 1.5m of those users spending at least an hour a day on the app.
“Besides finding a realistic match of abilities as a couple, you have to like spending 24/7 with your partner and you have to figure out how to mentally separate work from your personal lives. It’s a constant exercise of setting boundaries. We’ve created hard and fast rules about when ‘shop talk’ must stop, and from the moment our kids are home, through dinner, bath time and tucking them in bed, we don’t allow any work conversation. This isn’t just important for us as a couple, but our kids also need us to be there whole-heartedly.” – Jennifer Wong
Founders: Julia and Kevin Hartz
Instead of a normal proposal, Kevin asked Julia to create a company with him. She recalls that they had never spent more than two days together in a row, but his admission that she was the perfect co-founder had her move in with him, marry him and start Eventbrite.
Eventbrite was a notion that came from Kevin’s background. Julia wanted to democratise an industry using online payments and Kevin’s previous experience at PayPal gave him the right tools to get them started. The site allows users to plan events, sell tickets and promote across different social platforms.
The company recently sold their 100th million ticket. Eventbrite pulled in $207m in 2010, doubled that to $400m in 2011, and then bumped it up to $600m in 2012. They have recently announced the integration of their service with Facebook Event’s “buy ticket” feature.
“We had a couple of rules. We work on completely separate parts of the business. Basically, we never overlap so we’re optimising our complimentary skills, getting from point A to point B two times faster. It also really preserves our relationship because otherwise if we were working on the same spreadsheet, we’d be fighting over the mouth.” – Julia Hartz
Founders: Eric and Susan Gregg Koger
Eric and Susan have been together since high-school. Eric makes sure to point out that the company’s vision was and is Susan’s. While he takes care of business, she is the creative drive behind the company.
Susan has such a passion for vintage clothing that she even bought clothes that didn’t fit her or weren’t her style. When they went to college, her dorm room became so crowded that Eric convinced her to set up a site to sell some of her clothes. ModCloth.com is an online clothing and accessories retailer that focusses solely on vintage-inspired fashion.
By the end of 2012, ModCloth featured 1,200 designers who shared and sold their designs to the community. Their smartphone traffic has doubled, while their tablet device traffic tripled since 2011. Each day, ModCloth adds an average of 40 new items to its website.
“I was thrifting a lot and finding really, really amazing stuff that I just couldn’t pass up. So my closet got bigger and bigger. Although he’s not necessarily a good source for fashion advice, Eric was basically my tech department. We’ve basically being doing ModCloth our entire adult lives in some form or another. What better partner to ask for?” – Susan Gregg KogerBy Shané Schutte
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