What Silicon Valley taught me about my Co-Founder
Reflections from the muru-D 2018 trip.
Aivee Robinson, Co-Founder, Catalyser
We’ve just taken Catalyser on our first international roadshow to Hong Kong, Singapore and Silicon Valley. We met with angel investors, VC funds, competitors and leaders in our field. We networked at Google and Salesforce, and gained inside access to thinkers at Airbnb, Dropbox, Uber and Crunchbase. The objective of the trip was exposure; the outcome was learning.
Surprisingly, some of the most powerful lessons happened outside of meetings. Perhaps the most powerful lessons I learned were about my Co-Founder.
The importance of dating
As Co-Founders, we see each other every day. We speak on the phone as much as a teenage couple. But our contact has one focus – our company.
As the trip unfolded, my Co-Founder and I found ourselves discussing world news over breakfast, laughing over lunch and revealing personal stories over dinner. Despite having committed to a Co-Founder marriage, we were actually dating for the first time.
And we shared more than a few meals. In fact, we spent 50 hours eating together. What can you achieve in 50 hours? Well, you could binge watch all seasons of Game of Thrones, or you could really, really, get to know someone.
The shared life of Co-Founders is frenetic. There is always work to do and little time to relax together. But dating matters to a successful marriage and we, as a team, are so much stronger for it.
Your Co-Founder has multiple personalities
Travelling together will test any relationship. If you want to exponentially grow your understanding of each other like the startup hockey-stick, go share a bedroom with your Co-Founder for two weeks while you navigate the pressure of high-stakes meetings each day.
Travel will reveal uncertainty, discomfort, exhaustion and exhilaration. To cope with each new situation, different sub-personalities inevitably emerge in all of us. These are the people inside us that we know very well like The Perfectionist, or The Worrier, or The Critic. For each sub-personality or ‘sub’ that surfaces, there is a pattern of behaviours that may be familiar to us, but can be bewildering for those around us.
Part of our trip was a two-day boot camp focused on communication. Here, my Co-Founder and I spent time introducing our ‘subs’ to each other. It was weird; it was confronting; it was liberating. We gave names to these patterns of behaviour and we challenged many of the assumptions that had crept unnoticed into our marriage. Being able to understand someone’s multiple personalities requires both parties to come to the table with humility, honesty and the willingness to ask for each other’s help.
Like every human relationship that matters, the Co-Founder relationship requires attention and maintenance. If you’ve chosen one person to co-captain your ship, you’re going to want to know what (and who) they’re bringing aboard.
Jet lag, pressure to perform, and a complete lack of personal space will make or break any relationship. Happy to report that our Co-Founder marriage earned all the gold stars. We emerge from our first international roadshow as a rock-solid team (and with all our sub-personalities in tow).