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Entrepreneurship as a couple: when the startup is built based on a 24/7 relationship

Publicado el February 14, 2019

What is love? It seems a trivial and obvious question, but clearly it is not. Thousands of songs have been written for that reason. The greatest stories of humanity have tried to investigate the subject. And yet, we continue to theorise about what seems difficult to apply in practice.

So important it is, that we even dedicate to it a full day of the year. Matthieu Ricard, the Buddhist monk reported to be the happiest man on the planet, noted during his trip in Chile that “love is the only thing that multiplies when divided.”

But what happens when love evolves into a business relationship?

At ChileGlobal Ventures we have three stories of couples who have started a business together and who share with us what means to build a company based on a 24/7 relationship.

Nutritarian Foods – Rikü

 

Marcela and Patricio, founders of the brand that produces superfood-based products, Rikü, met more than 21 years ago and have been married for 18 years. During their first years of marriage, each one followed different career paths. Marcela always focused on food, specifically on development and innovation in multinational companies, and Patricio on mass consumption in family-owned businesses. “And then, during a typical weekend routine, the stars aligned and it made sense to take the tremendous step forward that it means to set up a new business,” explains Patricio.

What have been the advantages of building a company together?

Patricio: “The great advantage is that we are building a dream for everyone, respecting even more our individualities and strengthening a joint work that our children can inherit and shape. Respecting our respective personal space is a great learning too. There is no doubt that children from entrepreneurial parents are educated with a desire to transcend.”

And the disadvantages? What have you learned from them?

Patricio: “The fact of working at the same company makes it difficult to separate work from everyday and personal life. It is normal to continue talking at home and weekends about work, and that is one of the first things that should be corrected. We have learned to have maximum respect for each other. If the dream is large, the resilience and mutual support in the field must be even larger. We learned that humour is vital. Besides that, loads and loads of patience.”

What similarities exist between building a relationship and a startup, given that you have a 24/7 relationship with your startup?

Patricio: «The beginnings of a startup and a relationship are not very different: there is no sense of pause and every minute is about building something. At first we were both in love to death, both with each other and the company. Everything looks perfect but as time goes by the strengths and weaknesses of each one come to the surface.

But as with true love, and true entrepreneurship, it is proven when difficulties arise. You keep building and accepting what comes by, whilst you come clean on intentions and expectations. If you know how to work on that, then rewards will have no limits.

Then come the children, flesh and blood and with a soul. We could compare having children to creating a product in a startup: you are happy with them and you want them to be the best in the world and that everyone will find them amazing.

There are many similarities. Marriage has been a school and preparation to build our business together. And as with love, we want to go further with Rikü ».

 Learn more about this startup here

BioClass

The story of Ana and Rodolfo began in the classroom, nine years ago, while studying biotechnology engineering at university. They never imagined that they would create a company together, although they note that the experience of having studied together prepared them to build their own startup, without breaking down the relationship along the way.

How did you get to develop the startup together?

Rodolfo: “In 2015 Ana worked as a laboratory assistant at a research centre. The project funds were running out and her future there looked very uncertain. I had also finished my duties at a science and technology education company. These uncertain times gave us the opportunity to be creative and think about generating “something” that could combine our skills and interests.

That is how in November 2015, along with the social uproar and need to share and give more visibility to science in our country, the idea of combining our passions emerged: science, education and entrepreneurship. After studying, analysing and exploring our options, in January 2016 BioClass was officially born, where we seek to bring modern science closer to the school community.”

Do you have any anecdotes about the startup and your relationship?

Ana: “At our startup we continuously spend time with middle school students, in workshops, programs and  school academies of biotechnology. It has happened to us on several occasions that the students “fall in love” with Rodolfo and ask me what his name is, how old he is, if he has a girlfriend and so on. It has also happened that male students have written down their phone number with hearts and love messages for me, and then they tell Rodolfo. Sometimes students make bets among themselves, some saying we are a couple and others that we are too different to be together, so they have a good time analysing us to reach a conclusion.

For us this is all quite funny, and we try not to do anything that might show that we are a couple, since teenagers love to know everything.”

What recommendation would you give to couples who want to start a new business?

Both: “The best advice we can give to couples who decide to set up a new business together, is to make sure they have separate roles and be clear about which one will each play in the project, and based on this, they should work aligned and oriented to achieve the goals set.

 We believe that this is essential, not only to optimise the time and work dedicated to the startup, but it is also important for personal life, since talking about work outside of working hours feels liberating in a couple’s trust environment.

 Moreover, it is very likely that during the first months, or years, the main topic of conversation will be about the company, which is normal. However, they must consciously generate spaces and moments that can accommodate all areas of life.”

 Learn more about this startup here.

Austral Falcon

They say about wine, that if it is Chilean, it is good. For Horacio and Antonia, it was the key to get together in business and also as more than that. Wine is the main actor in their startup and the reason they met. Horacio was helping to promote his brother’s boutique vineyard at a wine tasting and Antonia was a guest. Antonia tasted one of the wines that Horacio served. “Then she added me to Facebook and from there we started dating. Little by little I realised the importance of this woman in my life,” says Horacio.

 They are currently developing Austral Falcon, a startup that allows to digitally calculate the grape harvest for wine producers, in order to figure out efficiently and accurately the amount in kilograms harvested in each season, thus avoiding losses due to poor estimation.

What similarities exist between building a relationship and a startup, given that you have a 24/7 relationship with your startup?

Horacio: “I think that in many ways, creating a startup and building a relationship require the same skills, both require patience and perseverance when things go wrong, a long-term vision that allows you to keep track of your final goal regardless of problems that may arise in the process and the know-how to identify people with the most suitable skills to address different challenges.”

Antonia: “You have to want it and care about it! Sometimes you go through bad times or challenges that discourage you, but rethinking why we started, helps us to give it the value it deserves.”

How did you get to develop the startup together?

Horacio: “While I worked at DUOC I started playing with the idea of being an entrepreneur. I had always been very attracted to drones and thought that capturing multispectral imaging with this type of equipment could be an option. I took this idea to one of Antonia’s uncles who worked in a vineyard and he told me that, although collecting this data was relevant, the big problem that vineyards faced today and especially the biggest ones, was how to estimate harvests. I left a little discouraged because my first idea wasn’t successful. So I started to find out about the problem of harvest estimation and that’s how Austral Falcon was born. After that, we decided together with my partner Mario to apply with this project to ChileGlobal Ventures’ Generación Impacto call and it seemed logical to add Antonia as part of the team, because we could incorporate her knowledge in the agricultural sector and a network of contacts that neither of us had in that moment. Finally, when we won the call, she told me that she wanted to be part of the partnership. Mario and I agreed because Antonia not only brings knowledge and her network of contacts, but also tremendous empathy, which makes adverse situations more bearable.”

What things are essential to start a new business together?

Antonia: “Communication is crucial. It is for any relationship, but especially for one where there is a double role. Tell each other about everything. It is necessary to lean on and be open to another opinion and reach agreements immediately. Do not wait to communicate the essential issues, as leaving things pending can damage and jeopardise the relationship, which will be bad for both the relationship and the startup.”

 Learn more about this startup here.

[1] https://www.theclinic.cl/2014/04/25/aww-el-hombre-mas-feliz-del-mundo-recomienda-el-amor-como-inversion-mas-segura/