While we don’t have children, we do most definitely have family. Siblings, parents, and extended family play an important role in a startup life. In addition, many partners begin relationships when working at the same company, like we did, or end up working at the same company that has been founded by one of them. Figuring out how to approach this intricate relationship can be challenging as well as incredibly fulfilling.


Krista Marks and Brent Milne started their first two businesses simultaneously. One was a consumer Internet company, and the other did hardware consulting as a bootstrapping strategy. There were four founders with equal stakes; Krista and Brent were married, and Krista was the CEO. Following are their thoughts on how they managed this dynamic.

Credit: Erin Sage Photography

During the earliest days of our startup journey, we fortuitously stumbled across an idea. Perhaps there were other great ideas from those days, but this one stands out to us in hindsight—and it wasn’t related to the business or a product, but rather to how we worked together. We made the decision to systematically avoid discussing work outside of the office. Our initial motivation for doing this was simple; we were hoping to keep a modicum of sanity in our lives, and this idea seemed like a possibly helpful device. It was already clear to us ...

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