UK startup founders share what it’s like to run a business with your best friend

From Ben and Jerry who were grade school friends to Hewlett and Packard, who were college buddies and even Starbucks which was started by a bunch of college besties, starting a business with your bestie has always been about an idea that has always existed.

And frankly, we’ve all been there. We’ve all had the impulse to start a startup with a friend at some point in our lives. The UK startup ecosystem has also witnessed such friendships which have resulted in successful business management.

These best friends have overcome the obstacles and adventures of life together. They were successful in creating startups and deepening their friendships to find out how to help each other through all of life’s ups and downs, professionally and personally by running the business with their best friends.

Toast to friendship and trust, we track down five of these friend-led startups and explore what keeps them in business together and what is the secret to their friendly success.

Spirit Foundry

Friends: Brian Mullins, CEO and Nick Sherman, VP of Marketing and Design

Year of foundation: 2016

Funding raised: $ 30.8 million

A spin-off company from the University of Oxford, Spirit Foundry is on a mission to create a future where humans and AI work together to solve the world’s most important problems. The startup develops AI solutions that help businesses and governments solve high-stakes problems while empowering them to consider ethics and long-term societal impact, performance and return on investment. technologies they implement.

Executed by Brian mullins, CEO of Mind Foundry and Nick sherman, VP Marketing & Design of the company, this is an example where friends who have become founders take the startup to new heights.

Brian and Nick met while they both lived and worked in Los Angeles, California in the early 2010s. When Brian was CEO of an augmented reality company and Nick was a documentary filmmaker, they had their first chance to work together. Brian brought in Nick to lead the visual storytelling for the company and convey the future of work to a group of stakeholders and clients who had never seen anything like AR before… Nick has left the world from Hollywood screenwriting, motion graphics, and documentary making to working with Brian and never looked back.

A decade later, they continue their journey together at Mind Foundry, with the vision of using AI to transform the world for good.

“Working with Nick taught me so much about storytelling, philosophy, conscience and myself. I wouldn’t be who I am today if we hadn’t crossed paths, ”said Brian.

“We’ve always sparked each other’s ideas and found ourselves continuing our conversations long after work was over as they turned into brainstorming and late-night plotting on the future of emerging technologies. I love working with Brian because he’s fearless and has broken down every obstacle in his way to get to where he is. He inspires me to do the same. I feel like we can really make our dreams come true and make this world a better place, ”added Nick.



Friends: Rémy Astié and Ulric Musset, co-founders

Year of foundation: 2018

Funding raised: £ 1.6m

Vauban is a technology company reshaping the world of private investment. The platform makes it easier, faster and more profitable for anyone to co-invest in private companies. Experienced investors can create an online community and invite others to co-invest, thereby lowering the investment threshold for alternative investments. Founded by Remy Astie and Ulric Musset with the passion to revolutionize the way fund structuring and administration work, the two friends have come a long way since they first met at university.

“Ulric and I met in our freshman year of college and have never stopped creating things since then, from an iPhone app to a sports betting platform. However, they have always taken the side of projects. It was only by thinking of Vauban that we decided that the opportunity was interesting, important and immediate enough to allow us to quit our jobs and work there full time, ”said Rémy.


Friends: Giuseppe Caltabiano and Egi Messito, co-founders

Year of foundation: 2018

Funding raised: £ 1.6m

The perfect duo, Giuseppe and Egi are co-founders of price-linked savings fintech EverUp. Startups are super tough and time consuming, persistence is the name of the game. The emotional and social support that comes with friendship is a powerful ally, say the founders of EverUp.

Longtime friends, who have known each other since 2006, they had worked together on a few projects and therefore knew each other’s abilities well. This close bond of friendship helped them finally lead a startup together.

“We have different skills and expertise in the field and EverUp was indeed born from the mixture of our different backgrounds (financial services versus lottery and games, but also willingness to sell versus product expertise),” said Giuseppe.

“From time to time we argue, like all founders, but there is no hard feelings. Inevitably, you spend a lot of time with your co-founder discussing a number of things, from day-to-day operational challenges to long-term strategic decisions. It’s more of a chore than a glamorous conversation, ”said Egi.


Friends: Aymi Duignan and Sonya Chatwani, co-founders

Foundation year: 2017

Funding raised: £ 1.6m

Launched in 2017, Easho (which stands for Easy Shopping) aims to disrupt the traditional wholesale shopping industry and take the stress out of wholesale shopping by shifting shopping online. Taking female brotherhood and friendships to new levels, co-founder duo Sonya Chatwani and Aymi Duignan launched the platform to use the power of social media to boost their appeal to the younger market.

Aymi and Sonya claim to be “opposites” and had met about four years ago when Sonja became a consultant for Aymi’s existing business. Talented Worcester artist Aymi and former investment banker and management strategy consultant Sonya of Marylebone, London is very proud to be associated with the Beauty Banks organization, which aims to eradicate poverty by hygiene. Easho’s commitments on social networks amount to more than 250,000 and they work with influencers, as well as a partnership with the Beauty Banks charity initiative.

Hiding place

Friends: Jacob Wedderburn-Day and Anthony Collias

Foundation year: 2015

Funding raised: $ 5.4 million

The luggage storage network company, the company was founded by two roommates from the University of Oxford. The travel tech startup connects travelers looking to store their luggage with stores and hotels offering storage space.

Jacob would spend hours discussing business ideas with his co-founder Anthony before they finally created the luggage storage platform. Jacob got the idea when he left college and moved to London. Airbnb was becoming very popular and he noticed that more and more people needed short-term storage, a safe place to keep their luggage after they left.

“We’ve known each other for almost 10 years now (crazy) and during that time we’ve been through a lot, starting a business, growing to a valuation of £ 10million + and then seeing it all collapse to 0 in the pandemic (it’s picking up now). Everyone who knows us always says that we seem to have a high level of confidence and I think that is very true. I always felt like it would be a much more lonely trip without Ant, because at all the different weak points (tough meetings, lost clients, or a pandemic crisis), it’s nice to know that there is someone. someone else in the same position who feels the same way supporting you, ”Jacob said.

“I think our relationship has grown stronger the more we work together because we know the way we both work well and we have quite different styles which are very complementary. I know I can count on Ant for his sales charisma and to bring energy to the office and for his great ideas, he knows he can count on me to make these ideas come true, make things happen. be monitored and that office workers have someone to talk to, ”he added.

Separately from Stasher, the pair of friends have also launched a podcast titled “The Morality of Everyday Things”.

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