When it comes to running a business, there’s a general understanding that you should think twice before deciding to work with your significant other. Perhaps it’s for good reason. When you combine personal relationships with work, the lines can easily become blurred and things can rapidly fall apart. On the other hand, the entrepreneurial community has produced numerous success stories of couples who not only work together, but have built a thriving business hand in hand.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we’re debuting Power Couple, a series focusing on Canada’s most enterprising couples, starting with three dynamic duos.
Michele Romanow & Andrew D’Souza
President and CEO; Clearbanc
Perhaps one of the most well-known faces of entrepreneurship in Canada, Michele Romanow certainly has a strong track record of cultivating new businesses and pushing for innovation here in the Great White North. The latest in her arsenal of business ventures is Clearbanc, a venture capital firm that she started with her partner Andrew D’Souza. As the President and CEO, respectively, Romanow and D’Souza created their company after recognizing a need to support Canada’s thriving start-up ecosystem. Clearbanc does just that by providing capital to fast-growing businesses through a revenue-share model as a more affordable way for entrepreneurs to build their companies. While D’Souza focuses on growth, Romanow channels her efforts on profitability. Today, they’ve invested nearly $1 billion in over 2,000 companies, including eight-times more women than traditional venture capital companies.
Erin Bury & Kevin Oulds
CEO and Head of Business Development; Willful
The process of grieving for a loved one is already a painful, traumatic process as is. Navigating the intricacies of estate planning at the same time is worse. After the passing of his uncle, Kevin Oulds and his family were left to navigate the confusing landscape of end-of-life planning as it wasn’t something that had been discussed before. They were left scrambling to answer how his uncle would be laid to rest, which burial services he would have preferred, and other jarring questions that added unnecessary stress to an already distressing time. Seeing an opportunity to help others so they wouldn’t have to experience the same challenges, Oulds left his job in construction project management and created Willful, an online platform that provides affordable and simple to use access to estate planning. “I saw the difficulties firsthand that our family faced by not having certain conversations beforehand, and the confusion that resulted from not having a plan in place,” he said. Shortly after, Erin Bury joined Oulds, bringing with her ten years of experience in the start-up space, to focus on building Willful. Since then, the husband and wife duo have worked together to de-stigmatize our conversation around death, expanding the company nationally and creating over 15,000 wills and Power of Attorney documents for clients across Canada.
Nicholas Reichenbach & Tammy Eckenswiller
CEO, SVP Brand Creative; Flow
As the dialogue around sustainability and conservation continues to grow, companies have started to rethink their business models and impact on the world. A serial entrepreneur that cut his teeth in San Francisco’s tech scene and a former fashion executive that helped shaped some of the industry’s biggest e-commerce brands, Nicholas Reichenbach and Tammy Eckenswiller have been at the forefront of the conversation since building their company, Flow. Inspired by the wake of destruction that plastic bottles had on the environment after attending Burning Man, Reichenbach wanted to create a company that could have a positive impact on the business community and environment. Utilizing a spring that had been passed through generations of his family, his idea was to create a sustainable water company that could upend an entire industry and consumer category. Flow is B Corp-certified and is designed to have a low carbon footprint by using a plant-based cap made from sugarcane and 100 percent recyclable packaging. While Reichenbach oversees the overall direction and growth of Flow’s business, Eckenswiller’s efforts are concentrated on the cultivation of the brand, from conceptualizing and executing consumer campaigns to retail execution.