Examining my network of founder friends, I find that the partner relationships fall into a couple of broad categories
The startup founder team
In this scenario, both people in the relationship are starting companies. Often one partner has is a repeat founder with some success and is taking another shot at bat, while the other partner is starting their first endeavor. Couples in this scenario have great empathy for each other. They learn from each others successes and missteps, allowing them to identify issues in their own company earlier, and address them more effectively. These couples tend to be incredibly driven and competitive, making them a great bet for investors. I applaud the ability for these couples to tackle big challenges with uncertain futures, simultaneously.
The Corporate Career and Founder Combo
This is the trade-off couple, one partner continues working at a stable company with great benefits and salary, while the other uses the breathing room to pursue an alternative career. Partners take turns at pursuing what they want in their career and life. In the future, the stable partner could want to become a corporate executive, requiring the founder to focus more on home life, or maybe the stable partner wants to retire early, meaning the founder partner is leveraging the stability to pursue a less certain career path. Either way, this scenario requires the couples to work together, craft a long-term vision for themselves and as a team, necessarily making sacrifices along the way to boost the odds of success as a couple.
The Supportive Family Member
This is a common scenario in established family units. Family life is hectic, and requires a lot of attention. When one member of the household is devoting all of their time to making sure the family runs smoothly, the other member can focus more on building and growing the business. To do this, there needs to be a good security cushion, when income is unpredictable, there needs to be a rainy day fund to cover basic expenses. In the bay area, this security often comes in the form of a previous success, such as one of the many IPO’s that occurred in 2019. This structure can be financially stressful on the family, and is generally less desirable to partners of prime working age.
The Friends and Family
Not a partner relationship, but I think it is worth noting the success of one founder, often rides on the support of their network. Maybe their parents supported their creativity and built up their confidence as a child, and close friends, having had some success in the past, contribute time and capital to the endeavor. Or for many young founders, moving back in with parents to significantly reduce living costs. Either way, the founder is relying on others, to free their mind so that they can focus on the business.