What I learned from founding a company with my brothers
3 min read
As many people know, Wix was founded by my brother Nadav Abrahami, Giora Kaplan (Gig), and myself. But a far less known piece of trivia is that a few years later my third brother, Yoav, joined as well, and now we all work at Wix.
So what is it like being co-founders who are also brothers? We should probably start with what it's like being co-founders with someone in general.
Starting a company together is a joyous occasion - you're creating something new, something you hope will be great. But then, very quickly you have to face reality - you need to hire people, raise money, and deliver a product. This is all a lot of work, and naturally it brings with it a lot of stress.
Co-founders have a real relationship with each other that is akin to that of a family, but it's also a family that doesn't have enough money, and where someone else is wasting what money you do have (salaries, marketing, etc.). The relationship between you and your partner will be one of the most challenging relationships you will ever experience.
To make it work:
- You really need to take care of your partner and love them.
- You need to know how to argue.
- You need to know how to fight.
- You must trust your partner blindly.
- You shouldn't be offended by your partner.
- You have to know your partner's shortcomings – so much so that it becomes an instinct.
- You have to be able to forgive and make up, as soon as the day after the intrigue occurred, because you have no other choice - the company has to continue to operate and not be affected by it.
Plus, you really have to believe that your partners are brilliant! As the company grows, there will be a lot of responsibility in their hands, and if you don't trust them, it will never work.
So how does all this translate into working with siblings?
As teenagers you're always arguing, fighting, trusting, and learning how to forgive and share. It's very likely that with your siblings you already have all these qualities naturally, and these qualities are the ones that will allow you to work together as partners.
Not all siblings are like that. If you fight and you never forgive, then you probably can't work together. However, if you have a good relationship, you'll probably work well together. In many ways, a three-day trip with your family is a good simulation for creating a start-up.
For me it was very natural. I always say I grew up in a family where I'm the least intelligent - both my brothers and my parents are more intelligent than I am. I'm the eldest, and as an older brother you always have to manage your siblings and parents, which really helped me as a CEO. Because I mostly feel at home managing people who are smarter than me, the result is that Wix has an extremely smart management team. Also, the fact that my brothers are also at Wix just makes the company even more of a family.
So let's say I convinced you that a sibling can be a great partner, but what can you do if you don't have any siblings? What if you started a company with friends?
If you have the right co-founders, even though they aren't your blood relatives, you'll find that after years of working together under pressure, after years of blind trust, they become your brothers (and sisters) in arms. Give it time and you will feel that just like in a war, the people you fight alongside every day will become your brothers and sisters.
Remember the following rules:
- Pick co-founders you think are brilliant.
- It's okay to fight.
- It's okay to argue.
- As long as you blindly trust your partners, never allow yourself to get insulted by them (at least, not for more than an hour).
- Forgive quickly.
- Be sure to celebrate a lot.
So yeah, me and my brothers have been working together for 14 years, and we love each other, and trust each other completely. I enjoy working with them, and maybe that's one of the main reasons Wix feels like one big family.
So if you, too, think your siblings are brilliant, more intelligent than you and you know how to argue with them and forgive, go for it.
Otherwise - look for your co-founder outside of home. That's because with the right one, regardless of blood, they'll eventually become your brother or sister.
P.S. My wife also works at Wix, but that's a story for the next post.