Wife On Management Team (Part-Time)

My wife is the inspiration for my startup, and has been really supportive from the beginning.  But she also has a job, is a PHD student, and is a very involved mom for our 2 kids.  The startup has raised a bit of $$ from F&F and some early revenue (tiny), but still not enough to pay our bills.  We have a great MVP, vision, team and momentum. I’ve been pitching vcs and angels with some decent interest, and a number have offered follow-on commitments once we have a lead.  We have some personal $$ runway left, but my wife is increasingly anxious about it since some of it is earmarked for house repairs we need to make which I said we’ll do once we’re cash-flow positive.

Here’s the dilemma part I need some advice on. She’s great at sales and is a passionate advocate for the business, and is helping out a bit with some demo events/business development.  She came with me to some local demos for potential customers and nailed it.  Now she really wants to come with me to VC/angel pitches since she believes she can help close the lead. I sort of like the idea that she’s our ideal customer and best advocate, but think it will send a bad signal to investors since she’s technically not on the management team.  I asked a friend who is a successful entrepreneur and he also agreed this would be a bad signal no matter how persuasive she is.  When I told her this, she suggested I spun it wrong to him since she is deeply involved in the business and feels like a partner, especially since most of our life savings is now wrapped up in it.

I could really use some advice since I never expected this to be a source of tension in my marriage (we have enough stress with our kids/lack of time for each other as it is.)   Is there a scenario where bringing her to a pitch makes sense?

  • Why not make her on the management team? That would solve your problem, no? Many startups have part time management so the fact that she’s part time isn’t an issue.

  • I’m a wife and not involved in day to day operations but I handle much of the investor relations. Just give her a honorary temporary title – “this is Christine, who helps us with investor relations so that the core team can focus on product development and sales”. Then it’s clear she’s not management but that she’s on board.

  • It’s a good thing when the CEO’s spouse is on board as far as investors are concerned. Sometimes they can view husband and wife teams askance (although often it can be positive) but she’s not part of management, so if anything they get assurance that you have the full support of your spouse + the company has the benefit of her unpaid labour and skills…

    Do, however, make her biz card so that it looks professional.

  • At least she sounds like a pro, but be careful with ” tension in my marriage” and there is conflict of interest involved too.

    I know a startup where CEO got his girlfriend of a circus background to work as a project manager. Her role was mainly to publish business cards, but in real life her role was to spy on employees and to pick and choose who she likes and doesn’t like. It was extremely unpleasant to work in that environment, where nobody was able to say anything out loud as she was CEO’s girl friend. The last drop was when she brought another friend of hers (also of a circus background) to work there too.

    Don’t turn your company into circus! You may like it, but your colleagues?

    Read this –


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