Business Partnerships – Case Studies

On Tuesday I talked about the Pros and Cons of structuring your business as a Partnership, and yesterday I reviewed how to outline your Roles and Responsibilities between business partners.  Today, I want to take a look at a few successful Partnership stories as I think it’s interesting and helpful to look outside of the wedding industry to gain perspective.


Image: Business Insider

These two MIT grads were tired of emailing files themselves when they wanted to work from more than one computer.  Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi created Dropbox in 2007 – Drew is CEO and Arash is CTO (Chief Technology Officer).  Now the company boasts 50 million users in over 175 countries.  In 2009, Steve Jobs even offered to purchase Dropbox for a 9 digit aquisition offer, but they declined as Drew said he would rather build a company than sell.  In 2011, they received $250 million in funding from investors so they can pursue their growth.  Impressive.


Image: The New York Times

Susan Gregg-Koger and her then boyfriend, now husband, Eric Koger, started ModCloth in 2002 when she was only 17 years old.  She had a closet full of vintage clothes and saw a unique opportunity to sell affordable, women’s indie clothing and accesories online.  Fast forward to 2012, ModCloth has over 300 employees across 3 locations.


Image: Inc Magazine

Two moms, Antje Danielson and Robin Chase, founded Zipcar in 2000.  They met at their children’s kindergarten class – Robin had an MBA and Antje was working on a Harvard research project trying to determine how other countries conserve energy with vehicles.  Chase was CEO until 2004 and now neither she or Antje are with the Company.  However, what they co-founded together now has over 900,000 members and a fleet of over 9000 Zipcars throughout the US, Canada, and the UK.

So what are some key takeaways we can learn from these case studies?
  • Some partnerships can stand the test of friendships and marriage
  • It’s important to leverage each partner’s talents and expertise as a Company is built
  • Some partnerships at the end of the day will dissolve because one partner steps down, an aquisition occurs and the partner is bought out, the partner is a serial entrepreneur and wants to start another business, etc. That’s ok.
  • There is power in numbers.  Two heads can definitely be better than one for many people. Synergy, passion, accountability, vision, and motivation can be shared between two business partners.  At the end of the day, it can lead to an incredibly successful business like the 3 above.
  • You don’t have to start with $100,000 in your bank account.  Zipcar started with $68 in their account upon their launch.

What other learnings do you take away from these examples of successful Partnerships?

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