From finally finding a co-founder that understands how you think, to working as a strong team, to figuring out how to draw the line between work and ‘free’ time, being a founder couple can have many benefits as well as challenges.
Together co-founders Mariah Freya and Phil Steinweber created Beducated in 2018, the ‘Netflix’ of sexual education, offering premium online courses. Their mission? To offer a tasteful, contemporary learning experience that lights up bedrooms across the globe. Based in Munich, their team has now grown to over 15 people, is used by people in 106 countries and has been raved about in the press by the Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and many more.
We managed to grab a moment with Phil and Mariah to ask them about their life experiences which led to the creation of Beducated, their founder superpowers and making sure that you ask first before talking about work at home.
Hello Mariah and Phil, thanks for joining us. Tell us, what is the story behind your startup? How did you reach the point of starting a company together, and how did you find the idea?
Mariah: Phil and I have been a couple for over 12 years. After a few years, it got difficult to uphold the magic in the bedroom. But instead of giving up we decided to go on a journey of self-development. Until only a few years back this knowledge was quite hard to access. There weren’t any online platforms like ours. We had to travel to different places, workshops and events all around the world.
Phil: We’ve discovered that there are many ways and tools to improve your skill set, and that it’s not rocket science to apply them in the bedroom. That’s how Beducated was born – the Netflix for sexual education.
What benefits are there to being a founder couple? And the main challenges?
Phil: Our superpowers are communication and execution. We have lived on different continents, experienced different phases of our relationship, have gone through various types of entrepreneurship. All because we “walk what we talk” – when we want to do something we just do it. The backbone of this is radically open communication. We just do it.
How do your skills complement each other (or clash?)
Mariah: We complement each other quite perfectly. I am the right-brainer – creative and communicative. I call myself the office mom and like to be on stage :-). Phil is the analytical and structured left-brainer with a doer attitude, and he is great a leading the team.
Phil: Professionally, Mariah brings in the vision of the content and is our in-house sexpert. Whereas I am geeking out on the organizational structure, software usage, finances and online marketing.
What is your funding strategy? Have you faced any stigma from investors for being a couple?
Mariah: Some investors see it as a strength that we are a couple, others do ask us what we’d do in case of splitting up. Fair enough, we thought about this too and we do have a plan B in case of an emergency.
Phil: However that’s not the biggest stigma we’re facing, given our special industry!
When building your team did you disclose your relationship from the beginning?
Phil: Yes! Honesty is super important in our company. Of course we’d like our employees to know that we’re a founder couple. It’s part of Beducated.
Mariah: Our office is on the first floor of our family home. Until now it has worked really well. But we will be looking at bigger offices very soon as we are growing as a team.
How does being a founder couple affect your work/life balance? Do you prefer to ‘switch off’ from the office, or do you prefer being able to bounce ideas around at any time?
Phil: We try not to talk about work in the evening. And if we do bring up something, we ask for consent :-).
Mariah: Since our son, Joshua was born, it’s been much easier to switch off from the office and just enjoy family life. But as passionate entrepreneurs, we do also enjoy talking about work or brainstorm ideas at any given moment. As a mom I do enjoy to think about other things next to baby stuff, it keeps me sane.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs out there thinking of starting up together?
Mariah: Just do it. The only thing you can lose is your business but not the experience you that you’ve gained. Start up something you are passionate about that has an impact. It keeps you motivated in hard times and strengthens you to pull through.
Phil: Bootstrap together your proof of concept, next to what you’re currently doing, i.e. do some “moonlighting”. Postpone getting an investment for as long as possible, as bootstrapping will force you to radically prioritise, which is a superpower!