When we think of the entrepreneurial journey it is mostly austere businessmen and board rooms that come to our mind. But truth be told, entrepreneurship is not all about seriousness. Many a times, entrepreneurship is all about the good friends, the long bonds and family. It might sound quite different to people who has always understood entrepreneurship to be something that is born out of meetings and boardrooms but the ones who had always known that it is all about a passion, a dream and teamwork, they would understand the role of close relations in a business. To make things a little closer to your understanding, let us look at the companies that have been started by friends and are doing great work in today’s business world.
When it comes to a company opened by friends Airbnb tops the list. Nathan Blecharczyk who is the co-founder of Airbnb met his room-mate via craiglist in 2007: Joe Gebbia. The moment that they met they were both engaged in different start-ups, Nathan as an engineer and Joe as a designer. To quote Nathan about the relationship that they developed he said in Mashable that “While I lived with Joe I came to appreciate two things about him — he worked just as hard as I did, and his skills complemented mine. I have the technical abilities, and he had the creative design skills.”
This duo was later joined by Gebbia’s college friend named Brian Chesky, who moved in to stay Gebbia when Nathan moved out. From roommates they became great friends who worked in the same industry. They came out with their idea in the summer of 2008. What gave them the idea was that there was a conference in San Francisco and because of this, there was a shortage of hotels. This led them to build a website that would help people to book rooms in people’s apartments. This is how Airbnb came to life.
2. Warby Parker:
The people behind Warby Parker were friends since Grad school where they studied in Wharton Philadephia. Interestingly the founders namely, Neil Blumenthal, Dave Gilboa, Andrew Hunt and Jeffrey Raider bonded over sharing the frustration of managing expensive glasses. They decided that they would provide the world with high quality and reasonable priced glasses that are also available online. They all met in a bar and decided that they would work hard to launch the company while making sure that business never came in the way of their friendships.
Thrillist is an online media brand that covers local events and restaurants around a country. The founders Ben Lerer and Adam Rich had been friends well before their company started. The idea came one day when Lerer and Rich stayed together in New York. They were having beer one night on Rich’s roof and were discussing their work while Lerer was getting ready for a date. He was clueless as to where to take his date out and was frustrated that there was a lack of online guide for the same. This gave rise to the idea that maybe they might come up with a website that listed to people the restaurants, events and things to do. They spent a lot of time going around the city, trying out restaurants and writing articles on them. The site grew up and now has become a well-known media group.
4. Ben and Jerry’s:
Everyone loves a scoop of the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, but did you know that the friendship of founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield goes all the way up to their 7th standard? While talking to the Independent, Cohen said, “I met Jerry running around the track in seventh grade gym class. We were the two slowest, fattest kids in the class.” They spent their teenage years together.
They shared a close bond together and ended up living in New York after Greenfield completed his graduation. They shared the idea that the ice cream industry is very saturated in New York and so they went to Vermont and opened their first store in Burlington in 1978.
5. Sprout Social:
Justyn Howard, Gil Lara, Aaron Rankin and Peter Soung, the founders of Sprout Social met clueless about what company they would eventually open. Howard who is the co-founder and CEO and Lara who is the co-founder and COO had been family friends for a long time. It was their wives who introduced them to their CTO namely Rankin during one of the couple’s date nights. Rankin went on to introduce his former colleague and fellow bowling league competitor Soung who is the company’s director of engineering, growth and mobile. This followed the creation of Sprout Social.
The founders of Showpad had met when they worked together in a company named Netlog. PJ Bouten and Louis Jonckheere both bonded over the same passion that they had of entrepreneurship. They followed their passion and started a digital product studio named Pocket. From Pocket they went on to launch their next venture named Showpad. These two went on to be friends while they worked at their same passion of entrepreneurship.
Great businesses have been built on lasting friendships. If you are an entrepreneur who is looking at making that move with your family or friends, do not hesitate to try it out. You might create something more than you had thought possible. Entrepreneurship is a mix of a lot of things. While some companies are born clearly out of boardrooms and meetings there are those ones that are created out of a friendly chat in the bar. The idea is to never have a rigid belief that one would work and the other would not work so well. Explore your possibilities, explore your relations. The best part of starting a business with a friend is you know where you are putting your trust. It helps to make a bond stronger and a business armed with a board that is more like family