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RodinStar / Startup

When Co-founders fight… How do they make up?

Friends fight. Siblings fight. Couples fight. Co-founders fight. We all do. That’s human nature. There’s no point in denying it. It would be abnormal if passionate startup co-founders who breathe their venture and are building it together, didn’t fight!!

 

So what usually happens when you disagree on a topic? Do you argue? Do you sulk? Stop talking to each other? Make voodoo dolls of the other person?! Does one of you always bully his/her way? Does the other just give in to avoid conflict? Or do you both fight it out and are able to come to a sane conclusion after letting out some steam?

 

 

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“Co-founder Conflict” (as the jargon goes), if not addressed in a democratic, natural way, can sometimes lead to the slow death of a venture. To prevent unwanted anger and grudges from building up, it’s always healthier to keep the communication channels open at all times. Say what you have to say. Keep an open mind about the other person’s perspective and give a patient hearing to him/her. And always try to figure out how to do what’s best for the startup.

 

But what’s more important is how you nurture this special relationship! After all, your co-founder is your work spouse, and you need to get along! So after your disagreement, how do you “kiss & make up”…?! Who is the mature one? Who breaks the ice (or cold war)? Who says, “hey, let’s grab a beer”?

 

I pinged a few  Rodinhooders to find out what happens when they disagree and how do they make up?! Sharing their stories and hoping more of you will comment and tell us what happens when you guys and gals get into dhishum dhishum mode!!

 

Be sure to just comment below – the best stories will get added to the main post!

 

[Ps: I shall add some concluding points in the end after hearing from more Rodinhooders. I don’t want to generalise, but will pick up some key things that work best for most folks. Food/Drink seem to be one way to cool down!!!]

 

 

Sharad Singh & Vivek Singal [Valuefy]

 

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“Vivek and I have known each other for 11 years now. We worked at Fractal from where we set off for our entrepreneurial journey together.

 

Valuefy is our second start-up. (Invezta.com is our product)

 

We have different skill sets and ways of thinking that makes it beneficial for the company, though it also means that we are in disagreement at times. Vivek is so damn intelligent that if he doesn’t want you to win and argument, you won’t. But at the same time, he is generous to let you win too.

 

Thanks to the time we have spent together, we understand each other well now and know when, who will crack 🙂

 

Our experience of having disagreements helps in continuing the discussion. We argue face-to-face, over phone, in flight and even while travelling abroad. However, we are able to gauge if the conversation is getting heated and we should take a break.

 

We know that both of us think in the best interest of the organization and that’s what allows us to come back soon and try to understand the other person’s point of view. We allow each other to seem unreasonable to the other party, so that there isn’t a blockage for ideas.

 

Typically when we take a break from a heated argument we’ll go to our desks to complete a few pending tasks and one of us comes back to other in a few minutes and says, “Chal… chai peekar aate hain…”.

 

That’s the make-up line. We know it.

 

Then we keep walking around the tea stall for an hour, sort it out and come back like nothing happened… ; )

 

In cases where we still can’t agree, Vivek puts forward his point and lets me take the final call and from there we go.

 

Ultimately, we know we are fighting for each other.”

 

@3sharad 

 

 

 

Tanul Mishra & Shipra Bhansali [Co-founders, Eatelish]
“When two people in a relationship feel strongly and passionately about something, emotions run deep and it energizes things and it can also lead to arguments. That’s how a Co-Founder relationship works too.

shipraandtanul

 

 

Shipra and I have what we like to call complimentary skill sets and our strengths are different too. While she is creative, I am the number person but at end we want the same thing – a successful, profit making, value creating business. We have had our share of arguments and disagreements on how to approach something, we listen to the other even if we won’t like what they’re saying, we give it a fair hearing.

 

We both have different ways in which we react during an argument (Shipra will usually take much longer to lose it while I tend to go into a “Your honor, here are my really valid reasons” mode fairly quickly!). We talk, disagree and when we see things are getting out of hand we take a short break, head to Suzette and get a cup of hot chocolate. There’s nothing that you can’t sort over a cup of hot chocolate!”

 

@tanulmishra @shiprab

 

 

 

Arjun Tuli & Pavneet Singh [Knowledge Maps]

 

 

“For Pavneet and me only one thing has worked till now… we stop talking to each other for some time. The time period is not defined though. Most of the times it takes around 2 days, but once it went on for more than a week. This was the case when we were living in the same apartment (as part of the Startup Chile program – both of us were in Santiago for 7 months). Living in the same apartment means that you both see each other 24×7 and interfere in each other’s personal lives as well. Once we started living in different apartments, our productivity increased a lot. Our fights decreased a lot. And the reconciliation time decreased to 1 day.

 

ps: We still fight over designations 😛 “

 

[Arjun is CTO, Pavneet is CEO] @arjun_tuli @pavtiwana 

 

 

***

 

If you are a single founder – then please answer some of the questions I asked here in ‘What’s it like to be a single founder?’

 

 

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9 Comments

  1. Thanks for this Asha and everyone who’s honestly shared their secret sauce to keeping their co-founder ‘happy’!

    I really like Sharad and Vivek’s approach. Nothing beats “chal, chai peeke aate hain”

    Adding to this, while, I haven’t had any co-founder, I’ve however worked with my dad’s partners in our family business and I know for the fact that sometimes situations can get tricky. Questions ranging from investing more capital, to growth to profits, there can be differences in opinions. I’ve always seen that my father dealt with these issues frankly by meeting the partners in-person and sharing the situation at hand. Speaking face to face really helps and sorts out most issues. However. in other worst case scenarios, we had to let go of partners who had vested interests. This can be a little painful for the transition period, however, it has worked wonders for both parties.

    And one thing I have learned from dad is, even if you break a partnership, make sure you do it amicabaly so you can still have the personal rapport without hurting each other. And doesn’t lead to an ugly competiton or vendetta.

  2. hey thanks for sharing your dad’s words of wisdom! ugly splits can really be hurtful and harmful 🙁

  3. but what happens when co-founders are husband and wife? 🙂

  4. they probably make up faster 🙂

  5. hi nitin,

    your reply didn’t get posted!

  6. Loved – Chal chai pee ke aate hain. There nothing better to quench the heat than the hot tea and and open minds.

  7. Hahaha. It’s good to know how other co-founders make up. Gives you one or two tactics.

    I think even in an argument or just a disagreement somewhere deep inside you know who is right or who has a more solid reasoning. If it is you, then you sound firmer and if not then you sound a little less firmer. But the thing is, being an entrepreneur the energy level is always high so you cant give up that easily.

    Prateek and I have known each other from the 1st day of college and then we wrote a book together, so with that understanding took a shoot. After that deciding to start a publishing company was not very difficult.

    When we do not agree with each other and we are sitting face to face, we keep trying to prove the point and at the end someone gives in. It does no go heated like that, usually ending with “chal phirr tu dekh le. ek hi baat hai”
    Other times, when we are super involved in a discussion with loads and loads of logic trying to prove each other wrong, somehow we end saying the same thing and laugh the whole heat off.

    And when the argument is a proper argument supported with unsolicited words (happens mostly on phone) , one of us calls the other one after few hours saying “Arey bhai aaj zada hogaya thoda” and the other one saying “haan wo to hai, chal kal beer peete hain”

    We both can’t be right everytime. so one of us has to be wrong. It is that simple. At the end we both want the same thing. The startup means way more than our respective egos. 

  8. hey nice sanchit! thanks for sharing!!

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