This week, Anthemis hosted the first event in our “Off the Record” series, a set of closed-door conversations on intimate topics that are seldom discussed, yet are enormously important to entrepreneurs and investors within the early stage ecosystem. This inaugural event, titled “Family Ties”, focused on the successes and pitfalls of investing in and founding businesses with family members.
The audience was a mix of entrepreneurs and investors, many who had personal experience with family-founded businesses: twin co-founders and best friends, a husband and wife partnership, sibling co-founders who also live together and investors with experience in investing in family-founded businesses.
The conversation was led by Gabe Halimi, CEO and Co-Founder of Flo Technologies, an Anthemis portfolio company. Gabe co-founded the business with his father, Henry Halimi, and discussed his personal experience and thoughts around family dynamics, workplace culture, and the strengths and weaknesses of being related co-founders.
Throughout the evening, the group engaged in spirited debates, shared lessons learned and discussed the pros and cons of family-founded businesses. Some important takeaways from the night:
· It is important to set aside time together, both as relatives and as co-founders, to catch up one-to-one and discuss personal and professional topics away from the office
· Make sure your employees are comfortable with the dynamic between relatives…what seems normal to you may not from an outsider’s perspective
· Trust is paramount
· Your roles, reflective of your skill sets, should be complementary and not competitive and should be clearly outlined and delineated
· Set guidelines with your extended family as well: be sure that they respect the relationship between co-founders and that they don’t take sides
· Have the conversation during the due diligence process to understand the family dynamics, even if the conversation is an uncomfortable one
· Be open with concerns relating to the family relationship
· Have a clear understanding of what constitutes a family matter, and what is important to the business and requires your involvement
· A family bond is often much deeper than simply being business co-founders, and should be understood and used as an asset
· Make sure to understand the culture of the company: ensure it is run like a company and not a family business
Thanks, and we hope to see you at the next “Off the Record” event. Please subscribe here to learn about future events, or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in learning more, or have ideas for topics to explore in this type of setting!