What was the situation? What was needed?
Two ambitious co-founders who had chosen to work together, to launch a business that Advisors told them had real potential . They had recently secured funding so had a runway for growth. Whilst the funding round had been a rollercoaster, as they had to pivot the business idea during the process. Naturally this created stress. They shared a passion for creating a AI business with aligned ambitions, and had complementary skills. But they doubted that they knew how to you leverage that difference in a positive way.
Within their partnership, they had been noticing a pattern of regular “blowups”, and they sensed this represents “an argument they were having but avoiding talking about”. They wanted to explore the habits that were “niggling” each other as they could see they were accumulated over time. They described wanting to break this cycle by getting support from a partnership coach who they could trust. With the team size likely to grow they didn’t want these niggles to slow down the business and both had previous experience of sour co-founder relationships .
What we did?
We began by meeting informally to understand goals, ways of working and to explore if there was a chemistry fit. From this we designed a tailored co-founder coaching programme. this programme included individual discovery sessions, an intensive workshop and bi-monthly tune up sessions. This allows us deepen their understanding of each other and what they need to feel safe with each other. Our tune ups created a dedicated space to slow down in order to notice their patterns of relating to each other, reflect on their blowups to understand them & their roots, share feedback and build their skills to work in a partnership with each other.
What was the result?
In summary, the client described that post the development “work had become fun again, the best we have been over the last two years of working together”. They found three key benefits from the programme. Firstly “noticing the patterns that were fuelling niggles and as a result being able to kick out of the cycle“. Secondly they accepted that they were both contributing to this negative cycle and hence more quickly being able to move from a “f**k you state” (which assumed the other person was doing it on purpose to be annoying) to “I wonder what prompts him to do that?“. Finally the client described the power of having a dedicated space for “venting with each other” and hence not allowing things to build up over time. After all in a start up, there is always a more pressing problem to tackle, and hence you avoid getting into “relationship” conversations.