Our Startup Story
My co-founder and I started marria.ge 15 years ago today. It was not our first venture together — we co-founded friendsh.ip before that, and are still running that project some 20 years later.
Our founding board meeting at marria.ge was overseen by @revtedinfo. Once the articles of covenantal incorporation were signed, we celebrated with a huge party that was graciously underwritten by the incubator program that had been working with my co-founder for the previous 23 years.
Most startups have a “honeymoon” phase, when they are singularly focused on building something they love with people they love and respect, and it was no different for us. We were doing a company offsite overseas during our “honeymoon” phase, when — just ten days after founding the company — the world changed around us. We watched from afar. It was a scary time but we had each other and we did not let these events deter us in our vision. If anything, they strengthened us and gave us the perspective to appreciate each other that much more.
We raised a seed round of dinnerware and linens through Macy’s Venture Registry, an early precursor to crowdfunding. We have managed since then to remain more-or-less cash positive. We have taken on debt to acquire our offices, which we have moved many times since our founding.
Two interns have joined our minimum-18-year incubator and mentorship program. It is an intensive, exhausting program — for us more than the participants — but to be fair, they didn’t sign up for it. Still, it is some of the most meaningful and fulfilling work that we are doing together as co-founders.
A lot of founders seek an exit or are forced out before their startup reaches the 15-year mark. I feel fortunate and am appreciative that we remain committed to growing marria.ge together. And that no large buyout offers have been entertained.
Some argue that after 15 years we can’t call this a startup anymore — that we are an established company, simply by virtue of age. I look back, though, recognizing that we have pivoted — together — numerous times. We are not the company now that we were 15 years ago. We reinvent ourselves, we adapt to and with each other, overcoming challenging market conditions. I want to remain a startup, maintaining the agility to grow marria.ge over many more years.
This is still just the beginning of our startup story.