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It’s a relief to work with a talented partner that complements my natural instincts
If you read through our popular Meet the VC series, which profiles hundreds of VCs, you’ll see that an overwhelming majority say the founder and his or her founding team are the biggest factors they consider when investing in a company.
Many want to find that soft skill that’s often not reflected in a resume. For instance, VCs always look for founders who are “resilient” “intuitive” and “courageous.” At the same time, they want to find teams that work well together and complement one another. Team dynamics can make or break a company.
In this new series, we’re profiling startup founding teams. We want to know why they chose to work together and why they work so well together.
Our third company is Eden. Eden is a platform for office management, with a mission to create a better place to work, for everyone. Eden's services include office cleaning, administrative help, IT support, handyman services, and snacks.
Joe Du Bey and Kyle Wilkinson are the two founding partners of Eden. Joe Du Bey recently gave an interview to Anna Vodopyanova from VatorNews. You can read it here: Interview with Eden founder Joe Du Bey
Joe Du Bey is the CEO of Eden. Joe has experience in company building, startup investing, growth stage investing, and M&A investment banking. Joe received his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and his BBA from The University of Michigan.
Kyle Wilkinson is the CTO of Eden. Prior to Eden he co-founded InternMatch/LookSharp. He received his BS in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
VatorNews: How did your company team come together?
Joe: Kyle and I met through a common friend, who introduced us when I moved from NYC to SF. Kyle was an experienced engineer who had founded a startup before as CTO, and I came from finance as an investor and wanted to build a company. We would meet every few months to discuss trends in technology and share ideas, and I kept trying to persuade him to collaborate on different ones. Finally one day I gave up, and asked if he had any talented technical friends who wanted to work on a services marketplace.
Kyle: I remember when Joe and I first met, we really clicked and had a great conversation. After that, Joe and I would go on walks and bounce product ideas off of each other. We still go on long walks to talk through ideas. I remember appreciating Joe’s insights and honesty. I wasn’t really picking up on him asking to work together on these ideas. When he discussed the idea for Eden and asked if I knew anyone who might be interested, it finally clicked. The idea behind Eden was really compelling and Joe had done a lot of work to validate it. I also thought Joe was tremendously talented and I wanted to work with him.
VatorNews: What are the complementary skills you each bring to the table?
Joe: Kyle is a talented engineer and has good product sense. He is also a strong general problem solver, so we work through most critical business problems together. I come from a finance and economics background, and most enjoy thinking through strategy and growth. Our overlap is product strategy, and we collaborate on that for Eden.
Kyle: Joe has the rare combination of skills to paint a compelling vision and strategy and also to execute quickly on his ideas. Early in my career, I was obsessed with product, UX, and technology. Over time, I learned how important distribution was to a startup’s success. Joe is both extremely creative on growth strategy and diligent on the execution. It’s frankly a relief working with a talented partner that complements my natural instincts.
VatorNews: What are the characteristics / qualities you look for in a founding partner?
Joe: To be honest, I was looking for "kind person who can code and wants to start a company with me". All that said, before we started Eden, we aligned on core values for the company. It was a helpful exercise, and we discovered significant overlap in what we cared about. Over time, as we built Eden, we learned how to collaborate, and discovered that we both fundamentally enjoyed working. It sounds simple, but there is a lot of work to do, and if you don't enjoy the work itself I imagine one would be tempted to quit when things get hard.
Kyle: I was looking for someone to complement my interests in UX and technology. I knew distribution was equally important and wanted to find someone skilled in that domain. I also knew that starting a business was really hard. There’s a quote from Dave Cutler, "I have this little saying that the successful people in the world are the people that do the things that the unsuccessful ones won't.” I wanted to work with a partner who felt the same way, and it quickly became clear that Joe worked like that.
VatorNews: How do you make sure you don’t get on each other’s nerves?
Joe: Sometimes we do, but we just talk about it in real-time. It is not such a big deal if you address it. It seems like the real human problems in startups occur when things go unsaid. Plus, Kyle loves Diet Coke, so I can just give him one if he is angry and he becomes happy again.
Kyle: I think disagreements are natural and I appreciate how Joe and I can talk through them and understand both sides before driving to resolution. Often after we work through an issue, I will find a fun Pez dispenser on my desk or I will leave something like a silly dinosaur puppet on his desk. A healthy sense of humor is really helpful!
Vatornews: What are some lessons learned about working together?
Joe: Both Kyle and I can be stubborn, and occasionally get emotional or dig in our heels in an argument. I have learned that when we disagree, we should just take a break and come back later. Neither of us is so stubborn that we would rather do the wrong thing for Eden to preserve our personal "right-ness", so if we break and come back later we can let cooler heads prevail.
Kyle: It’s really true that a business partnership is like a relationship (platonic during working hours). Joe and I are aligned most of the time -- when we do disagree, with some distance, it’s fascinating to learn why. I think we often approach problems from different angles and I have learned how valuable that is for both validating your idea when you agree and learning new perspectives to consider when tackling the next problem. I have also learned a lot about how to work with different functions within an organization from Joe.
VatorNews: What’s your advice about teams and founding partners to entrepreneurs looking to start a company?
Joe: When you co-found a company, it is like getting married. If the company works, you'll be together for over a decade, and it can even be a lifelong journey if you are really having fun and build something big. Probably like a real marriage, it is much easier if you actually get along, and especially if you and your business partner share a sense of humor.
Kyle: I think persistence is key to building a successful business. Genuinely enjoying Joe’s companionship (and humor) keeps me motivated through the inevitable ups and downs. I also think that engineers can undervalue growth, culture, and finance when starting a company. Distribution is crucial. I feel really fortunate to have met Joe -- he’s my favorite person to solve problems with. I hope we get to collaborate together for a long time. I should add that Joe did not bribe me with a case of Diet Coke to say that!
Read more from our "Startup Teams" series
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It’s all about communication, honesty, and transparencyRead more...
Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs
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Eden is the full-stack solution for office management. Our mission is to create a better place to work, for everyone.
Our services include office cleaning, supply stocking, IT support, handyman services, and taskers. Each Eden client has a dedicated account lead to ensure an insanely great experience.
Eden is venture-backed from some of the best institutional and angel investors in Silicon Valley, including Spectrum 28, Fifth Wall, Y Combinator, SV Angel, Redpoint Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Canvas Ventures, Index Ventures, Comcast Ventures, ENIAC, Maven Ventures, Slow Ventures, and many more.
We were founded in March 2015 and currently serve the Bay Area, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, TX, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Phoneix, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Miami, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston.