Is It Okay for My Boyfriend to Pursue the Same Business as Me?

On Quora, someone asked:

Is it okay for my boyfriend to pursue the same business as me?

I’ve been pursuing my fin-tech startup since almost a year now, part time. Recently got funding, some solid partners and looking to take it on full time in the next month onwards.My boyfriend got around 500K USD last year, pursued a big data startup which eventually failed last February. He and his team pursued a couple of ideas after that, but settled upon doing the same fin-tech related business (which is very new in India). He came upon the idea from me, has seen the entire process, and now that nothing else is working out, his team has decided to pursue the pretty much the same thing and is raising and has started developing for the same.

I am feeling quite bad about it and would be much happier if he pursued something else. He’s now a competitor and I don’t want that. Any advice?

This was my response:

Your boyfriend is either pretty shady or desperate, to jeopardize what you’re doing and stealing all of your proprietary information to be your competitor.I can kind of understand where he’s coming from (not really but um yeah), with the desire to make his investors happy.  However, he seems like he has two priorities here.

The first priority of his being making his investors happy and becoming wealthy. Over the last year, he has tried this and that.  Nothing has worked.  However, he has seen the traction you have been able to put together with your business while only working part time at it.  With that, he has seen that you were able to acquire customers, work out a streamlined process and even raise capital.

He seems to have moved you to a second priority, if even a priority at all.  He is completely aware of the fact that you have been working on this platform for a whole year.  He has more than likely seen all the details to the startup, as you two probably discuss business each and every day.  All that proprietary information you have that separates you from your competitors?

Gone.

Maybe he’s under the assumption that you will stick around with him and stay by his side, because maybe, just maybe you won’t feel betrayed by his acts.

Personally, I don’t believe in competition.  I would never compete with my spouse or partner, as it would be completely ridiculous.  I mean, if I really wanted to do the same thing as my significant other, then I would just white label their services, not make my own service that is exactly identical to theirs.  That way, we would both win if one of the platforms succeeded, but we can have different USP’s (unique selling propositions) to target the market.  After all, it isn’t who has the best product that wins, but that who has the best marketing.

This, in turn, would allow him to focus the money he raised into marketing and operations, as opposed to product development.  All you would need to do is issue him a licensing agreement for him to use your platform under a different name.

If I were you, I would make that proposal.  For him to license your service for a small residual.  That’s the only win-win situation.

If he’s unwilling to do that, then he more than likely plans to leave you in the future, because he surely doesn’t respect you as a person and cares more about the almighty dollar than you.

P.S.  Sorry for being blunt, but it is what it is.

Originally posted on Quora.

Leonard Kim consults startups and writes books like The Etiquette of Social Media: How to Connect and Respond to Others in the World of Social Media

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