Partners at home and work: meet the entrepreneurs who went into business together

Would you launch a startup with your spouse? Here are some top professionals who did that, and with great success too. On Valentine’s Day, we look at couples who fell in love, got married and started a business together.

As another Valentine’s Day rolls around, couples world over make special plans to celebrate their love. Holidays, quick getaways, romantic dinners, and cheesy gifts that scream, ‘I love you’. But there are some others in love who have decided that they make great partners at work too.

YS Weekender caught up with some founders who built a business with their significant other. And guess what? They all love the journey so far.

Swati and Rohan Bhargava - CashKaro

Founded by Swati and Rohan Bhargava, is one of India's largest cashback and coupons site. It is a one-stop destination for savings across 1,500+ ecommerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm, etc.

But where did it all begin? Swati looks back on the time she and her husband met at the London School of Economics. “We had a common group of friends. Rohan was a good cook and he hosted dinners where he made Indian food. We got to know each other during our time in college,” she recalls.

Rohan and Swati Bhargava

As to how they started their enterprise together, she says, “We both believed in the idea of CashKaro, and the Indian market had great potential for our product. That gave us the confidence to go ahead with our company. We also had complementary interests."

"Rohan was into product development and tech, while I liked marketing and social media. We also didn’t have any ego issues working together. We knew we’d make a great team. Having the trust that couples have and bringing that into our business helped us a lot.”

Swati had worked in Goldman Sachs earlier but she does not find too much difference in how she works in their own business. “I was myself then, and I still am. I can be as free as I need to be in my workplace. I’m also more attached to the company since my husband and I built it together.”

Though they don’t always agree on everything, Swati believes that the best thing to do is to stay calm. “When you’re angry, you are not thinking. We give each other space to think and voice our opinions. Sometimes, depending on the topic that is being discussed, we let the person whose domain it is take the final call on it. I believe that experimentation is a part of learning, and we never stop each other from doing what we firmly believe in.”

So, what is the couple’s plan for this Valentine’s Day?

“We haven’t made any big plans yet. Whenever the work load reduces, we try to spend time with each other and travel. But since doing something together on Valentine’s Day is a special thing, we’ll probably have a nice dinner together.”

One of her most memorable Valentine’s was when she was in London. “That was the Valentine’s Day before we had started dating. When our individual plans got cancelled, we ended up watching an old, funny movie together on TV, as we were roommates at the time.”

She has mixed feelings about V-day, however. “Marketers are still trying to use Valentine’s Day for their products, but it’s not a bad thing. In today’s world of consumerism, if people want to have fun on a particular day, they should be able to do so,” she adds.

Garima Juneja and Gaurav Mishra - ViralCurry

Garima Juneja and Gaurav Mishra’s company Viral Curry provides complete branding and social media solutions for companies that seek to create a strong online presence. Garima and Gaurav had launched the company together six years ago.

Valentine’s Day also happens to be Garima’s birthday. “It is also our love anniversary as we decided to get married on that day. This year is our first Valentines’ Day after we got married. We’ve decided to go to Goa for a vacation. We’ve made all the arrangements, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Garima Juneja and Gaurav Mishra

As to how they met, Garima explains, “Gaurav and I were in the same college and we started freelancing during my final year of college. I was doing content writing and Gaurav was a designer and web developer. Freelancing gave me the confidence to take up new projects, but it took me a long time to find opportunities.”

Garima says she had an offer from an MNC but she decided to pursue the dream of launching a startup. “I made the decision on the night before I was to take up that job. Once we launched the business, we got our first few clients from our freelancing days.

Our first major client was Lenskart. We worked on their rebranding and their TV commercial.”

Viral Curry is essentially a boutique digital agency. “We don’t approach new clients. We stick to a few and we give all our attention to meeting their deliverables,” she says.

As to how they maintain a work-life balance she explains, “You have to become a different person at work and place your work before yourself. Maintaining a work-life balance is easy for us. We go out for lunches and take some time off during the day if we feel the need for it. The best thing is that we always have common things to talk about. With the kind of balance, we’ve established, we have no time for useless misunderstandings or quarrels. And, I’ve learnt to switch off after work hours.”

What do they do when they have differing opinions? “We have a go-to strategy of listing out the pros and cons of the matter individually, and we choose the most logical way forward.”

Celebrating her birthday on Valentine’s Day proved to be a bit of a challenge for Garima growing up. “I’ve often had problems when I was younger trying to convince my friends’ parents to let them out for a party. I’ve even had to make my parents call their parents as proof,” she laughs.

Radhika and Bharath Patil - Cradlewise

Cradlewise is a startup based in Bengaluru that considers child-play to be serious business. They are a team of engineers who have built solutions for infant care.

Bharath and Radhika Patil

Radhika Patil says that she had finished her masters in IISc, Bengaluru, and that was where she met her husband, Bharath. “We met as classmates in IISc and we stayed in the college hostels on the campus. We’d have lunch and dinner together at the college mess. We bonded over many amazing conversations and we also worked on our final project as a team.”

When asked how they started a company together, Radhika explains, “As a mother I found that I was facing a lot of challenges. Being efficient at work and being energetic at home was really difficult. Even my friends had similar problems.”

That was when she decided to jump into the startup world. “My husband joined me after a year. He had supported me continuously during that first year. I wanted to add tech to create solutions for child care.”

Radhika does not find too much of a difference working with her husband than when she had worked at her former job. “We’ve collaborated on so many projects earlier that there was no difference in our way of working when we were in college and now. We’ve struck a very good understanding of what is good for the company, and we know our strengths and weaknesses.”

When it comes to disagreements or differences in opinion, Radhika says that they concur 100 percent on what adds value to the startup, but they sometimes choose to follow different methods in the execution of a plan. “When we are unable to really choose which path to take, we approach our mentors. They’ve guided us in many cases.”

Work-life balance is a priority for the couple. “We drive together to work and we discuss many important things before we get to the office. Every evening, we divide our attention between work and kids. Sometimes he takes care of them while I work and sometimes it’s the other way around. We tend to stick to our schedules and lead a disciplined life, so that it is easy to manage our lifestyle.”