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Startup Founders Share The Ups, Downs Of Working With Family

Over the past few months, I conducted interviews with several founders who told me that they had either started their company with a family member, or employed one in a key role.

Rob and Jon Sadow spent their teenage years in Atlanta commuting over 25 miles to high school each day, often planning their entire schedules around their 1.5 hour-plus drive.

By the time they graduated, the brothers understood how the stress of commuting could negatively impact their happiness, health and productivity — even before they actually worked in an office.

In 2014, the brothers left their respective jobs — in consulting at Bain and in product management at Google — to found Scoop, which in August raised $60 million.

Rob and Jon teamed up to tackle the commuting issue by building a solution aimed at making carpooling “a viable alternative for the more than 100 million Americans who commute to work every day,” over 80 percent of whom drive alone, according to Scoop.

According to Jon, who serves as the company’s chief product officer and is the younger of the two, the brothers balance each other out in meaningful ways.

“Of course, we each have our own weaknesses and areas for improvement,” said Jon, who points out that working with a brother who knows him so well has come in handy.

The brothers have also both hired executive coaches, which has helped them understand the best times to conduct themselves more like brothers versus co-founders and vice versa, especially as the company has scaled.

As a personal plant enthusiast, Mast had the convenience of asking his mother, who has 40 years of experience with growing, for advice.

“I brought my parents on board because I felt like they were the best people for the job for what we’ve been trying to build,” he said.

CEO and co-founder Melissa Hanna came up with the idea behind the Los Angeles-based company after seeing her mother, Linda, work for years as a labor and delivery nurse.

Also being a mother-daughter founding team presented challenges when trying to raise capital, Melissa said, although she told me she prefers to “not dwell” on this piece of their story.

“It was weird for some investors to fund a mother-daughter team,” she said.

Years ago, Steve Reilly had to take his daughter to the emergency room, something no parent ever wants to have to do.

Steve and his brother, Christian, teamed up to build out technology that could help make sure such situations could be avoided in the future.

Since this year was a particularly meaningful one when it came to my own family, it’s only fitting to end my article publishing with this topic.

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