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How I Met My Co-Founder

Business & Economics Podcasts

Did you know co-founder conflict kills 65% of startups? Join co-founder relationship expert, Annie Garofalo, as she interviews high performing founding teams on the pivotal, often overlooked moments of choosing co-founders, building trust, and navigating conflicts. In each episode, you’ll be in the room as co-founders reflect on their most intimate moments as a team – from toughest team conversations, communication breakdowns, and decision making best practices. How I Met My Co-Founder is a master-class in navigating the interpersonal challenges facing entrepreneurs. Have questions you want answered live, or guests you want to see? Submit them at


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Did you know co-founder conflict kills 65% of startups? Join co-founder relationship expert, Annie Garofalo, as she interviews high performing founding teams on the pivotal, often overlooked moments of choosing co-founders, building trust, and navigating conflicts. In each episode, you’ll be in the room as co-founders reflect on their most intimate moments as a team – from toughest team conversations, communication breakdowns, and decision making best practices. How I Met My Co-Founder is a master-class in navigating the interpersonal challenges facing entrepreneurs. Have questions you want answered live, or guests you want to see? Submit them at



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Ep 1.9 • AMA: Couples Therapy for Co-Founders | Guest Host, Crystelle Desnoyer

Ask Me Anything: Couples Therapy for Co-Founders — Former Techstars Chief of Staff, Crystelle Desnoyer, interviewing Co-Founder Relationship Expert, Annie Garofalo In this bonus episode of 'How I Met My Co-Founder,' guest host Crystelle Desnoyer, former Chief of Staff to the CEO of Techstars, switches roles to interview show host Annie Garofalo about her unique specialization in supporting co-founder relationships. Drawing from her personal experience of co-founding a startup, Annie delves into how differences in definitions and expectations can create challenges even in the strongest of friendships. The discussion covers the importance of proactive communication, the nuanced process of setting up co-founder agreements, and various conflict management strategies. Annie shares insights from her academic research at Stanford and her work with 50 early-stage teams backed by leading investors. Together, they explore the complexities of co-founder dynamics, the role of cultural backgrounds, and when it might be best for co-founders to part ways. Essential takeaways include the value of upfront conversations, structured feedback, and creating a 'pilot phase' to test co-founder compatibility. Crystelle’s Takeaways: Communicate, communicate, communicate! Try to anticipate and discuss as much as you can upfront Put everything in writing to prevent miscommunication Be honest with yourself, be honest with the other person - whether you know them really well or not at all When co-founder ‘dating’ always do a pilot — a high risk, high yield kind of situation in order to really get to know one another. Get full access to podcast summaries and founding team research and resources by subscribing to the newsletter at References & Resources: • Non-Violent Communication (Book): • Permission to Feel (Book): • Piloting Your Co-Founder Relationship: Where to find Crystelle Desnoyer: Where to find Annie Garofalo, host and startup team relationship expert: Website: Newsletter: LinkedIn: Instagram: TikTok: Twitter: YouTube: In this episode, we cover: 00:00 Episode Highlights 00:40 Introduction and Role Reversal 00:43 Our Guest Host: Crystelle's Background 01:59 Annie's Journey into Co-Founder Relationships 04:22 The Importance of Upfront Conversations 05:39 The Co-Founder Prenup 06:14 Communication and Willingness 08:28 Conflict Management Strategies 10:11 Couples and Close Friends as Co-Founders 11:17 Handling Hard Conversations 12:17 Feedback and Check-Ins 16:40 Cultural Differences in Conflict Resolution 18:33 When to Consider Breaking Up 21:04 Criteria for Working with Co-Founders 22:27 Advice for New Co-Founders 28:14 Summary and Closing Thoughts Podcast produced by For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email Annie may be an investor, advisor, or coach for the companies discussed.


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Ep 1.8 • Professor-Student Duo Takes on AI | Interview with Voxel51

This week’s episode brings professor-student duo from University of Michigan, Brian Moore (CEO) and Prof. Jason Corso (CSO), co-founders of Voxel51, an open source toolkit to enable better data and better models. They discuss transitioning from academia to entrepreneurship in AI, shedding the “faculty” and “student” roles, changing CEO titles earlier last year, how they made a major pivot (and if it was the right choice), as well as how they tackled one of their biggest disagreements - deciding when to fundraise. Over the past 7 years, Jason and Brian have grown Voxel51 to a company with 25+ team members, over 2 million downloads, and have secured over $12M to date led by Drive Capital, with participation from Top Harvest, Shasta Ventures, eLab Ventures and ID Ventures. In our conversation, we discuss: • The transition from academia to entrepreneurship • Starting a company with two technical co-founders • Shedding the “faculty” and “student” roles • Changing who is CEO 5 years in • Making a *major* business model pivot • Conflict: when is the right time to fundraise? Key Insights: It all began in a computer vision course at the University of Michigan during the fall of 2014. Jason, an established professor, and Brian, a bright PhD student in the frontline but not directly under Jason's tutelage, formed a connection that transcended the conventional teacher-student relationship, laying the foundation for what would eventually become Voxel 51. The Transition from Academia to Entrepreneurship": Their venture began not with a startup mindset but as a research partnership, focusing on applied research funded by grants. This phase allowed them to "nerd out" on technology, gradually learning about the market and the potential for their project. This period was crucial for building technical foundations and understanding the market before fully committing to the startup route. (see Jason’s blog post) Shedding the “Faculty” and “Student” Roles: Jason and Brian's journey emphasizes the significance of equitable decision-making and leadership. Shedding previous labels of "faculty" and "student," they adopted a "leadership by committee" approach, ensuring that decisions, especially critical ones, were deliberated jointly. This democratic process fostered a strong, trust-based relationship that played a pivotal role in navigating the startup's direction and strategy. Title Changes in the C-Suite: One of the most intriguing aspects of their partnership was the fluidity of roles within the company. The transition from Jason as CEO to CSO and Brian from CTO to CEO highlighted their flexible nature, always aligning roles with the company's needs and individual priorities and strengths. Their ability to adapt and reassess roles showcases a vital lesson in leadership flexibility for startup success. Navigating Conflict - When is the Right Time to Fundraise?: The narrative of Voxel 51 is interlaced with moments of agreement and discord. One of their biggest moments of disagreement was on the timing of fundraising. The pair trace this back to their different personality types and how each of them thinks about risk-taking. They ultimately came to a shared decision after creating a shared data set and having a series of conversations over time both internally as well as externally with advisors, peers, and investors. How to Make a Major Pivot: A compelling takeaway from Brian and Jason's story is the analogy of the founding team to a family, underlining the importance of trust, commitment, and the ability to navigate conflicts productively. Their journey underscores the necessity of a solid foundational relationship, capable of weathering the challenges that come with startup growth and evolution. A notable instance was their decision to pivot the company's direction, a move borne out of aligned values and a shared vision, despite the inherent risks. The story of Voxel 51 is about the evolution of a partnership through challenges,...


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Ep 1.7 • From Big Tech @ Meta to Co-Founders | Interview with LastMile AI

In our first live recording in New York City, guests Andrew Hoh and Sarmad Qadri, co-founders of LastMile AI, share their experiences transitioning from working at Meta to launching their own AI developer platform. They discuss the importance of trust and communication, comparing the co-founder relationship to marriage, emphasizing accountability, mutual support, and the ability to navigate conflict. It’s only fitting that in our first live recording in New York City, the LastMile AI team has a list of New York landmarks that are meaningful in their journey. Andrew and Sarmad, former coworkers at Meta turned co-founders of an AI developer platform that has raised $10M in seed funding, reminisce on initial lunch conversations at Eataly in Flatiron, whispered co-founder agreements in Stavros Library, and miles of walking and talking around Madison Square Garden. Key insights include the significance of not being overly attached to initial ideas, the challenges of adjusting to startup culture from a corporate environment, and the critical role of having a robust support system outside the business. The conversation also highlights the necessity of addressing potential issues early, maintaining emotional stability, and ensuring alignment on major decisions to prevent resentment. The episode is a deep dive into the complexities of co-founding a startup, offering valuable advice for prospective entrepreneurs. In our conversation, we discuss: • Difference between working for Meta and startup life • Addressing conflicts (lessons from marriage) • How to know if they’re the right co-founder • Finding value in different working styles • The all-encompassing nature of founding Favorite Quotes: Differences between large corporation (Meta) and startup (LastMile): "It feels just a lot more emotionally tied to your identity in a way that I never felt in any other company or any other place that I've at least worked at."- Sarmad In addressing conflicts, lessons from marriage: “When you're married, you think of how do we solve a problem? It's not like, ‘Sarmad let me down’. It's like, ‘No, we need to fix this’. We don’t point fingers... we're on the same team and we're gonna have to fix this.” - Andrew In finding the right co-founder for you: “It's not finding someone you don't disagree with, but it's finding someone who makes you the best version of yourself that you can be.” - Sarmad "The way that we work together… I genuinely believe we can fix any issue.” - Andrew Emotional stability is key! “You need to be an emotionally stable person. There's so much that [starting a company] throws at you, and being able to just be very rational and analytical and not lash out when things go wrong. All of that requires a degree of emotional stability and maturity that you have to come in with or learn it very quickly.” - Andrew Finding value in different working styles — do you prefer bungee jumping versus hiking? Do you add a new ingredient to a focaccia recipe on a whim or not?: “I do think it's helped for me to partner with Andrew because we see things in slightly different ways. I can be a lot more aggressive at times and Andrew's like, ‘hold up let's take a step back’. I think the inverse is true to where I feel like I jumped off a cliff because I'd already made up my mind that I wanted to do this much sooner, but walking through those steps with Andrew, where it felt like we were going for a walk, was really important to our success.” (Working Styles Quiz) Founding takes a tolls on others in your life as well: “Andrew once asked me how my wife is doing through all this. And I thought that was a very empathetic question. You can ask, ‘how are you doing’, but to ask how someone else is doing, that requires you to understand like the toll of building a company extends beyond just yourself as a founder.” Do not allow frustrations to build up, share small and often: “We have a rule that we'll never have pent up anger or resentment. The rule...


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Ep 1.6 • From Co-Founders to Life Partners | Interview with How to Change the World

Meet married couple, Professor Jason Blackstock (CEO) and social entrepreneur Alana Heath (COO) who met as co-founders of the social enterprise ⁠How to Change the World⁠. Spun out of University College London (UCL), their organization provides students and early career professionals with the skills and mindsets to build a greener, more equitable future. Listen now on ⁠Spotify⁠ / ⁠Apple⁠ / ⁠YouTube⁠ / ⁠Google⁠. Brought to you by ⁠Confidante⁠, preventing the co-founder conflicts that kill 65% of startups. Get podcast summaries and co-founder resources delivered to your inbox: In our conversation, we discuss: • The Initial Connection: Professional or Romantic? • When the Spouse Role is in Tension the CXO Role • Putting Values to the Test in Times of Crisis • Not Shying Away from Contingency Planning • The “One Life” / Pie Chart Model to Life Priorities Some takeaways: “You can have it all, but probably not all at the same time” - Alana. Instead of striving for work-life balance, view life as a single pie chart where priorities may shift over time. Make sure your business and life partners know your short- and long-term priorities. (Resource: ⁠The Pie Chart Model - Life Priorities⁠) Shared Values as Your North Star: Values are tested during challenging periods, such as personal crises or startup uncertainties. Spend time up front to determine your partnership’s shared values (See Resource: ⁠Uncover Your Co-Founder’s Values⁠) "Talk about values, make that a foundational part of your first conversations early on." - Jason What Happens when the Role of a Co-Founder and Spouse are in Tension? When wearing multiple hats (e.g., co-founder and spouse), discuss with yoru partner which you are going to prioritize. “Family first means the wife hat goes on first. And if that means the COO always has to figure more out than she thought, then she does that.” - Alana Discuss Contingency Plans: Have open discussions about potential future scenarios, including changes in roles or exits from the company, to ensure alignment and preparedness. “If I haven't made myself redundant in five to six years, then I really haven't been doing my job very well as a founding CEO” - Jason Great couples don’t always make good co-founders, and vice versa: Reflect on *your* ideal partnership both personally and professionally. Do you like to have to share work and life with the same people? Do you prefer to have more of a separation? The right answer is the one that is right for you. Where to find How to Change the World: Website: ⁠⁠ Email: LinkedIn: ⁠⁠ Where to find Annie Garofalo, host & startup team relationship expert: Website: ⁠⁠ Newsletter: ⁠⁠ LinkedIn: ⁠⁠ Instagram: ⁠⁠ TikTok: ⁠⁠ Twitter: ⁠⁠ YouTube: ⁠⁠ In this episode, we cover: 00:00 Episode Highlightsc 00:47 Introduction 01:43 Origin Story: A Chance Meeting That Changed Everything 02:22 The Initial Connection: Professional or Personal? 03:04 Alana's Leap into a New Venture 04:06 The Evolution from Advisor to Co-Founder 05:38 Identifying the Missing Piece: Alana's Role in the Company 07:01 The Power of Complementary Skill Sets 09:45 Navigating the Early Days of Collaboration 13:35 The Birth of a Personal Relationship Amidst Professional Growth 18:40 Values at the Core: Building a Life and Company Together 21:22 Challenges and Triumphs of Being Married Co-Founders 26:30 Future Planning and Contingency Conversations 34:23 Final Thoughts and Advice for Founding Teams References & Resources: • Uncover Your Co-Founder’s Values: ⁠⁠ • The “One...


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Ep 1.5 • Three Nationalities, One Mission | Interview with Cohabit

Vaish, Max, and Jed are co-founders of Sweden-based company Cohabit, a circular furniture rental startup born out of a graduate course in sustainability at Malmö University. The team is diverse in every way - culturally, geographically, and functionally. Vaish has nearly a decade of expertise leading teams in the non-profit sector in India, Jed brings experience managing one of the top fast-food chains in the Philippines, and Max is a multi-time founder in the sustainability space in Europe. Despite these differences, the team is united by a mission to create a more sustainable world. After meeting in graduate school, the team applied to and won a startup competition which got them started with summer funding. For the three months following graduation, you’d find this motivated trio in the library strategizing, road tripping around the country moving furniture, and building conviction around the future of their company and team. Perhaps most impressively, the Cohabit team had the foresight to have healthy conversations from day one. Throughout our conversation they emphasize the vital role of open communication, both in resolving business issues and managing interpersonal dynamics within the team. They discuss the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship and reflect on the importance of shared vision and commitment, along with their experiences in dealing with uncertainty and role assignments in their startup. They also share their individual growth as co-founders and the mutual support and understanding they've developed along the way. In our conversation, we discuss: • Founding a Company with Classmates • Leaning on Co-Founders for (Emotional) Support • Structuring “Pilots” with Co-Founders • Balancing Sustainability and Profit • The Importance of Trust and Commitment Some takeaways: “It’s not 33% ownership, it’s 100% thrice”: Vaish shares, “if we look at it as shared ownership, we have so much more that we can do together. I’ve come to terms that whenever I'm in a conflict, I'm in conflict with the problem that we are trying to resolve, not with my partners.” (See Resource: Situation-Behavior-Impact Communication Framework) Structure a Realistic Pilot: The Cohabit team used their 3-month accelerator as a trial period not only for their company idea, but also for their team structure. By the end of the 3-months, each had the conviction and commitment to continue working on this full-time. (See Resource: Structuring “Pilots” with Co-Founders) Lean on Co-Founders for (Emotional) Support: The team highlights the importance of embracing uncertainty in the startup journey, and the power of leaning on your co-founders for emotional (not just functional) support. They believe co-founders should support each other's emotional well-being and regularly check in on a personal level. (See Resource: Sound Relationship House for Co-Founders) Growing *with* Team: Max highlights his gratitude at his co-founders for pushing him to grow in new and better ways - you want to be working with a team that does not expect perfection from the get-go, and is willing to learn and grow together. Focus on Strengths, Not Titles: In the early days, the team assigned roles based on each member's strengths and experience. They view these roles as continuously evolving with the needs of the company - flexibility and adaptability are key. For example, is known as the “energizer bunny” which comes with great positives Where to find Cohabit: Website: Facebook: Instagram: LinkedIn: Where to find Annie Garofalo, host & startup team relationship expert: Website: Newsletter: LinkedIn: Instagram: TikTok: Twitter: YouTube:...


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Ep 1.4 • Cybersecurity’s First Mother-Daughter Founding Team | Interview with Seccuri

Listen now on Spotify / Apple / YouTube / Google. Brought to you by Confidante, preventing the co-founder conflicts that kill 65% of startups. Get podcast summaries and co-founder resources delivered to your inbox: Juanita Duque (CEO) and Olga Botero (CTO), co-founders of Seccuri, are the first mother-daughter co-founders in the cybersecurity sector. Mother-daughter pair, Olga and Juanita, are no strangers to mixing business and family. Juanita’s mother, Olga, and her father started a company together at the beginning of their career and marriage. Growing up, Juanita remembers weighing in on the stock market at the kitchen table, honing her business skills alongside her parents and brother. Olga is a global powerhouse with over 20 years of C-Level expertise including as former CIO of Grupo Bancolombia, one of the largest financial groups in Latin America. Juanita, a Stanford MBA and engineer by training, former consultant, and cybersecurity expert, called up her mother after business school and said, “let’s start something together”. In 2022, they came together to launch Seccuri, a multi-award winning business today, as co-founders - a rare dynamic to see between mother-daughter. In doing so, they became the first ever mother-daughter founding pair in cybersecurity. In our conversation, they discuss their experience in starting Seccuri as co-founders, negotiating their different roles and responsibilities, and maintaining a balance between their professional and personal relationships. The duo shares how creating rules of engagement, appreciating each other's strengths, and maintaining a sense of humor are key to their shared success in business. The episode also features tips on working with family members, emphasizing the importance of separating personal life from work, learning from each other, and trusting each other. In our conversation, we discuss: • Starting a Family Business in Cybersecurity • Varying Levels of Seniority in a Founding Team (Who’s the Boss) • How to Make (and Support a Co-Founder through) Mistakes • Create “Rules of Engagement” (When Are We Family vs. Co-Founders) • Navigating a Male-Dominated Industry (as Female Founders) Some takeaways: 1. Know what you and your co-founder individually want to get out of the company (e.g., leadership experience, sales, social impact) and check in regularly on whether these motivators are being met. 2. Agree to leave mistakes in the past. It may be a mother’s tendency to point out the mistakes of her child… however a co-founder’s role is not to dwell on mistakes of the other, but to help them move forward and say, “ok what’s next?” 3. Admiration and respect are critical when founding with seniority levels. The founder with more seniority needs to believe there is as much to be learned from their partner as there is to teach. (See Sound Relationship House in resources) 4. Create “Rules of Engagement” when you are more than just co-founders. When do we talk business (or not)? What happens at family dinners? How can we respect each other’s schedules - for example, if one of us wakes up “late” (is 7am late…?)? (See Partnership Agreement below) 5. Be very careful when founding with family - if you cannot separate professional life from family life, then do not do it. If you do, you will be putting your family at risk. (See Family Charter in resources) Where to find Juanita, Olga, and Seccuri: Juanita Duque: Olga Botero: LinkedIn - / Twitter - / Instagram - Where to find Annie Garofalo, host & startup team relationship expert: Website: Newsletter: LinkedIn: Instagram:...


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Ep 1.3 • Is Four Co-Founders Too Many? | Interview with

Listen now on Spotify / Apple / YouTube / Google. Brought to you by Confidante, preventing the co-founder conflicts that kill 65% of startups. Get podcast summaries and co-founder resources delivered to your inbox: Ian Coe, Karl Hanson, Andrew Colombi & Adam Kamor are co-founders of Meet Ian, Karl, Andrew, and Adam, who came together in 2018 to co-found Tonic. Their goal? To revolutionize how engineering teams create synthetic yet meaningful test datasets. Speaking of data - as many in the startup world know, it's rare to find founding teams with more than three members. Which brings us to a common question: How many co-founders is too many? Let’s crunch the numbers… a recent analysis from TechCrunch revealed that less than 7% of companies raising over $10 million had four or more co-founders. Against all odds, Tonic’s four person founding team has raised over $47 million dollars from leading investors like Insight Partners, GGV Capital, and Bloomberg Beta. Join us as we uncover the secrets behind their success and see for ourselves how many co-founders are too many? How did they do it? Listen to their team story to learn how they overcame the odds and come to your own conclusion on how many co-founders is too many. In our conversation, we discuss: • The Requirement of Trust and Commitment in the Team • An Honest Discussion on Titles and Roles in the Founding Team • Fundraising & Investor Relations with a Large, Remote Founding Team • Infusing Humor and Levity into the Company Culture • Shared Decision Making in the Founding Team • Advice for New Founding Teams Some takeaways: 1. Don’t get stuck on titles - they’re merely a way of communicating to the external world in the early stages. Instead, be willing to flex and take on whatever the company needs. 2. Align on priorities (the “why”), debate methodology (the “how”): “What are the values we are going to lean back on when we disagree on something?” The Tonic team has a shared #1 priority of delivering products to customers. They may go back back and forth on how to do that, but know they’re all working towards the same goal. 3. Keep your ego out of it as much as possible. “When I talk about decision making in an organization - make sure you understand who the winner of whatever argument you're making - who is the winner, who's the main beneficiary? Maybe it’s be engineering or marketing getting more headcount. But the worst kind of winner though is your ego.” 4. The hardest decisions are the ones that impact the business and technical sides of the company. Ian’s advice: Go into these conversations with as data much as possible. Get the facts and agree on the facts (e.g., doing X will take a year of engineering work) before the conversations. 5. A large founding team can be hard, and RELIES on trust. Ian credits the success of their team in large part due to the long-term nature of their prior relationships - with nearly a decade of work or personal relationship with each member of the team. All that to say, know who you are partnering with! (Resource: 6 Biggest Mistakes When Choosing a Co-Founder and Quiz) Where to find LinkedIn - tonicfakedata / Twitter - @tonicfakedata / Instagram - @tonicfakedata / YouTube - @tonicfakedata Where to find Annie Garofalo, host & startup team relationship expert: Website: Newsletter: LinkedIn: Instagram: TikTok: Twitter: YouTube: In this episode, we cover: 00:00 Episode Highlights 00:24 Podcast Introduction 00:43 Meet Tonic AI's Founding Team 01:49 The Origin Story of the Co-Founders 02:53 Building Trust and Commitment in the Team 05:29 Navigating Titles and Roles in the...


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Ep 1.2 • Buying a Company with Your Spouse | Patricia & Enrico: The First Search Fund Couple

Listen now on ⁠Spotify⁠ / ⁠Apple⁠ / ⁠YouTube⁠ / ⁠Google⁠ / ⁠Pod Website⁠. Meet us in person at ⁠MIT's 8th Annual ETA Conference⁠ Feb. 15th, ⁠Get Tickets Here⁠ Patricia Riopel & Enrico Magnani made waves in 2017 as the first search fund couple! Post-business school, they found themselves in separate careers in separate continents with Enrico returning to McKinsey Italy and Pat operating companies across Africa and Latin America. When thinking about how to bring their lives back together, they were reminded of an MBA class they took on search funds. A ⁠Search Fund⁠, also known as Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (or ETA), is a model where investors provide individuals with capital to buy and grow an existing company. For Pat and Enrico, it was the perfect balance of entrepreneurship and growth, and allowed the couple to take control of their own destiny. The two acquired their first company in 2017 and sold it in 2023 - becoming the first married couple to not only acquire a business, but also to successfully sell one with this model. They’re now working together again! But this time as search fund investors through their private equity fund, ⁠Magnum Capital⁠. If you’re interested in buying and growing a company, reach out to Patricia & Enrico (contact info below) or join us in-person at MIT’s ETA Conference Feb. 15-17. In our conversation, we discuss: • Why buy an existing company (versus start one from scratch) • The pros (and cons) of a partnered search • What makes a good partner (in a professional sense) • How to approach disagreements when your business partner is your spouse • Communicating openly with investors about relationship status • Come meet us (Pat, Enrico, & Annie) at ⁠MIT’s ETA Conference⁠ (Feb 15th) Where to find Patricia, Enrico & Magnum Capital: • Patricia Riopel: ⁠⁠ • Enrico Magnani: ⁠⁠ • Associés Magnum Capital Partners: ⁠⁠ Where to find Annie Garofalo, host & startup team relationship expert: Website: ⁠⁠ Newsletter: ⁠⁠ LinkedIn: ⁠⁠ Instagram: ⁠⁠ TikTok: ⁠⁠ Twitter: ⁠⁠ YouTube: ⁠⁠ In this episode, we cover: 00:00 Episode Highlights 00:24 Introducing: How I Met My Co-Founder 00:43 Meet Patricia & Enrico: The First Search Fund Couple 02:18 The Origin Story: Meeting in at IESE 02:59 What is a Search Fund / Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition? 05:45 The Decision to Take Control and Work Together 07:52 Work-Life Balance Concerns 10:22 The Importance of Passion and Fulfillment in Work 12:35 Start a Company or Buy One? 14:54 The Decision to Do a Partnered Search 21:12 A Recent Disagreement: Choosing the Next Step 27:09 Communicating the Relationship Status to Investors 29:06 Advice for Potential Entrepreneurs 30:31 Meet us at MIT’s ETA Conference (Feb 2024) References & Resources: • MIT’s 8th Annual Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Conference: ⁠⁠ | Get Tickets: ⁠⁠ • How to Structure Trial Periods with a Potential Co-Founder: ⁠⁠ • The 9 Hot Button Conversations All Co-Founders Should Have: ⁠⁠ • The History of Search Funds: ⁠⁠ Podcast produced by For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email Annie may be an investor, advisor, or coach for the companies discussed. Get full access to podcast summaries at ⁠⁠


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Ep 1.1 • From Childhood Friends to Co-Founders | BuildBetter AI’s Spencer (CEO) & Nikhil (CTO)

Brought to you by Confidante, preventing the co-founder conflicts that kill 65% of startups. Learn more at — Spencer Shulem, Nikhil Shinday, and Adam Stanford are co-founders of BuildBetter. After a decade working in and around startups, Spencer and Adam started BuildBetter in 2020. Soon after, Spencer brought in his childhood friend, Nikhil, as a third co-founder and CTO. Since then, they’ve secured millions in funding from leading investors like Wing, Tidal, Surface, Village Global, and OnDeck, and Telegraph Hill Capital and made thousands of product teams around the globe more efficient. But those are the only business stats you’ll see today. Instead, our conversation with Spencer and Nikhil focuses exclusively on the relational-side of venture building: the co-founder relationship. How did trust and respect evolve? Who owns what in the company? What's the essence of being a co-founder? And of course, what are the juiciest conflicts and how are they resolved? In our conversation, we discuss: • When is it right to found a company with a close friend - the risks and the rewards • Adding a third co-founder to an existing founding team and build equal trust • The benefits of a co-founder relationship coach • How they managed one of the team’s biggest disagreements • What it means to be a co-founder (at BuildBetter) • How to have fun while building a business (e.g., using memes in Slack to define roles) Some takeaways: Not all close friends will make great co-founders - think carefully about who you work with - as Spencer says, “you're spending your life with these people, even more time than you would with your spouse” (Searching for a co-founder? See: “Finding the One and Lasting” article for tips) Conflict (when done respectfully) can be one of the greatest form of intimacy and a sign of trust building up. People often share their honest opinion only when they know it will be treated with respect It’s easier to have hard conversations when they are scheduled and facilitated (especially early on). Regular relationship check ins can help the team surface disagreements and create “Co-Founder Maps” (see: “Sound Relationship House for Co-Founders” article) Take responsibility for your function, but also lean on your co-founders. You should respect your founding team enough that you *want* to use them as a sounding board, if not take a deeper look at if they’re the right fit The expectations of a “co-founder” are subjective. Spend time defining what the co-founder role means to you; how do you want to be supported not only functionally (skillsets-wise), but also socially (as a leader, decision maker) and emotionally (during the ups and downs)? Listen now on Spotify / Apple / YouTube / Google / Pod Website. Where to find Spencer, Nikhil & BuildBetter: • BuildBetter ( The product ops assistant that turns untapped data —like call recordings— into your company’s most valuable deliverables • • • • Spencer, CEO & Co-Founder: • Nikhil, CTO & Co-Founder: • Where to find Annie Garofalo, host & startup team relationship expert: Website: • LinkedIn:• Newsletter: • X: • Instagram: • TikTok: In this episode, we cover: [00:00:00] Episode Highlights [00:00:43] Welcome to How I Met My Co-Founder [00:01:12] Meet the Co-Founders of BuildBetter [00:02:09] BuildBetterTeam Origin Story [00:04:52] Joining as a Third Co-Founder [00:07:19] Building Trust as a New Addition to the Founding Team [00:11:14] What Does It Mean to Be a Co-Founder? [00:13:50] Defining Roles and Responsibilities (and Memes) [00:17:18] How to Talk through the Hard...


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Teaser: Introducing How I Met My Co-Founder

Subscribe to keep up-to-date with new episodes! Or join our newsletter to get summaries and transcripts delivered right to your inbox: How I Met My Co-Founder: The Podcast How I Met My Co-Founder sheds light on the pivotal, often underestimated discussions that make or break a founding team. This business podcast aims to reduce the 65% of startup teams that fail due to co-founder conflict (The Founder’s Dilemma). Join us for riveting stories from entrepreneurs of diverse stages, sizes, and setups as they share their perspectives on co-founding teams. Successful startups begin with strong partnerships. Hosted by Annie Garofalo, sponsored by Confidante. Annie Garofalo, founder of Confidante, has immersed herself in a decade-long journey studying the art of founding team dynamics. Passionate about working with early-stage startups, she seamlessly blends entrepreneurial acumen, organizational behavior insights, and the finesse of relationship therapy to keep strong founding teams healthy. Annie had an early glimpse into the significance of co-founder dynamics when she co-founded her first company with a close childhood friend. This pivotal experience fueled her to delve deeper into the research. At Stanford, she fused entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, and relationship therapy through their joint MBA and Sociology MA program. Annie's professional tapestry weaves together roles as a former founder, investor, C-suite executive, team coach, and growth strategy consultant. At Confidante, we actively study and support founding team relationships. With the awareness that 65% of companies falter due to co-founder issues, we've crafted preventative programs. Teaming up with leading investors and accelerators, we pioneer research and proactive solutions, strengthening the bedrock of startups—the co-founder relationship. Discover more about our research, approach, and resources at: