What do you think about "Couple's Therapy" for co-founders?

Lusine Magauzyan
77 replies
Have you done it? Have you thought of doing it? I just heard about it during YCombinator's Future Founders Conference 2020.


David T. Kim
That's an excellent idea. It's something we don't preach enough! I don't think there's a perfect co-founder relationship so the demand is there. It'll be fun to figure out the exact use case from the interviews!
Helene Auramo
Hi! I think it should not be just for co-founders but also for the management team. Also I would start with using Socrates dialogue method. I have been finding that useful and saves a lot of time and gets to the point quite fast. :)
Yuliia Mamonov 🇺🇦
@helene_auramo totally agree that it should be a priority for the whole management team, not just the co-founders!
Lusine Magauzyan
@helene_auramo Yeah I agree too about management team! What's this Socrates dialogue? Do you have some articles in mind I can research it beyond basic googling?
Aaron O'Leary
Interesting! It's definitely viable when you consider a company and marriage crossover a lot, co-founders like partners deal with being around each other a lot, conflicting views on the future, financial stress etc
Lusine Magauzyan
@aaronoleary yep! I haven't tried it but mental health for founders is super important and i think it sounds exciting.
Felipe Barreiros
I had a similar need a couple of years ago and this has worked well for us: Every Thursday we sat down in the morning for 2~3h out of the office (breakfast time was our best option at the time) and we talked about everything. Work-related, personal stuff, where we saw ourselves 10y from now, what are our political priorities, where we would travel to on our holidays, etc. Bonding with my partner helped a lot to understand why some decisions were being made. I say that because I knew that they were planning to be away for two weeks 5 months from now and they needed to speed up the delivery of a certain feature on the product. My point is, try to have a weekly, long conversation, with no previously synched agenda first. If that doesn't work, try couple's therapy.
Ansis Lipenitis
@felipe_barreiros Good point. Additionally, you could do emotional clearing now and then. That fosters a higher level of openness and honesty, which, in turn, accelerates self-discovery and growth.
Lusine Magauzyan
@felipe_barreiros that's great that it worked for you guys. From my opinion this sounds more like a quality time though, which is again very crucial. Talking just about work is exhausting. But I'm trying to explore more the aspect of founders sitting together with a professional "doctor" like actual therapy works
Agata Krzysztofik
I never heard of this but it's such a brilliant idea 😆but not every couple needs a therapy. I would guess that it's only applicable in case of some sort of conflict. At my company the co-founders are an actual married couple in real life. They are a good match and they openly and timely share feedback with each other so they never needed something like this ;)
Lusine Magauzyan
@agatakristo absolutely i agree that not every couple needs a therapy but I've recently come to the conclusion that it will definitely not heart. Even if everything is ok I'd like to have this activity with my romantic partner and I started thinking that for founders it'll be cool too to see their dynamics through the lense of another person.
Daria Varha
Sounds like a plan :D
Anxo Armada
It sounds extreme! ;) We would need more therapy in general
Lusine Magauzyan
@anxo_armada yeah sounds really extreme at first but I'm diving deeper these days to explore more of it and have better understanding. I think I'll definitely go for it.
I did this for hundreds of cofounder pairings for nearly 4 years while working at Entrepreneur First, and continue doing so privately. It's transformative - best book to read on the topic: Fierce Conversations. Also a great article by Esther Perel on the First Round blog: https://firstround.com/review/ho... If anyone wants to chat more about it, I'm @zefi on twitter.
Lusine Magauzyan
@zefi Hi Zefi. You did this means you conducted therapy for founders or you participated/went to therapy with a co-founder? Do tell me more. I'm really excited about this topic
Tatiana Kukova, PhD
Hi everyone! I am a Social Psychologist of Entrepreneurship with a PhD from Aston Business School, UK. I am not sure about "Couple's Therapy" for co-founders, but I can definitely recommend my book entitled 'The Entrepreneur’s Identity Standard: What entrepreneurs think about themselves and how it influences their entrepreneurial actions.' My book solves the psychological problem of how tech startup entrepreneurs deal with strategic decision-making processes in their ventures based on how they see themselves.
Ansis Lipenitis
@kukova_tatiana Hi Tatiana, what are some main hypothesis of the book, to know if to read it?
Adam Putterman
I had to do a double-take on this question because I thought it was on my Slack, not PH. My co-founder and I are building a modern couples therapy brand. We just finished fundraising and one of the interesting themes was how many investors asked about this (e.g., "would you do something like this for our portfolio company founders?"). We're super biased - we believe that everyone should go to couples therapy proactively and early. The underlying reason most couples (and founders) break up is that they let things fester. A small scratch becomes a gaping wound. Only way to solve this is to get on top of it early and ongoing. I think the best solution for founders in particular is some mix of intense onboarding experience to set expectations, ongoing quick check-ins to identify issues, and occasional deep dives with a third party to prevent those issues from snowballing.
Lance Villacin
@adam_putterman relating to my own comment on this post, I think talking to a therapist once in awhile even when there are no apparent problems can help identify these small scratches early on
Lusine Magauzyan
@adam_putterman Hi Adam, what is it exactly that you do? I'm hyped.
Adam Putterman
@adam_putterman @lussvontrier We offer modern couples therapy that's designed to be proactive. Specifically, we have private sessions and cohort-based workshops. Let me know if you'd ever want to check it out.
Lance Villacin
I think this would be an amazing idea. I mean even without a problem, I think it would be a good idea for co-founders to talk with therapists, individually or separately. I mean, with the immense pressure of building a startup, it sure helps to have someone to unload to and help make sense with your thoughts
Jana Filipovic
Never heard of it before, but as long we are having more startups and even more co-founders, it'll become a necessity. Not a chance YCombinator took a deeper look on the subject ✌️
Michael Fulwiler
I'm so glad this is getting talked about. Dr. Karen Bridbord does this through Founders Foundry (https://thefoundersfoundry.com/). As a Certified Gottman Therapist, she applies Gottman Method Couples Therapy to workplace relationships.
Lusine Magauzyan
@fulwilerm Do founders go to her like couples would?
Alexander Colon
I think it's a great idea! A safe environment with a professional who's not biased. Also, for non co-founders such as married couples, I think the introduction of either a micro dose of Ketamine or a micro dose of ecstasy to bring out full emotions without holding anything back.
Gabrielle Ng
I am married and not remotely interested. I just want to join Gmail Unsubscriber
Jake Chapman
We provide (pay for) therapy and Co-founder therapy to all of our founders through www.atlasq.com. One of the core tenants of our firm is that the people behind the businesses are the real asset we're backing and so want to invest in their success as people and leaders. One of the things we've found is that, quantitatively, the top reasons for startup failure can all be traced back to the leadership team and many of those problems are related to mental and physical well-being. Its hard to be an A++ leader, maintain your energy and maintain your creativity when you are personally struggling.
Lusine Magauzyan
@runvc that's exciting, very thoughtful of you. Question: What does that therapy look like? Does it mimic the real couple's therapy?
Victor Burke
I think that is an excellent idea...like any relationship, a partnership is never easy and it takes experience to know when to give and take.
Jact Gary
Interesting! how to.......
Hannah S Kim
I think this would be beneficial if both founders are open to it! I've heard of athletes (ice dancer pairs, for example), going into couple's therapy to improve their communication and team work. If you are working that closely with someone towards a common goal and spend a lot of time together, I see why not.
Vineet Sinha
just did it... super helpful... DM me if you'd like a referral
Lusine Magauzyan
@vineet_sinha how did you do it? Did you and your co-founder go to a "shrink" like couples do?
Vineet Sinha
@lussvontrier kinda? We had a sr advisor who's referred by our accelerator mediate a few sessions... she does it professionally so the process was top notch