How I Found My Business Partner
Here’s a story of a Boy and a Girl who eventually became business partners. Twice. This isn’t your typical story that starts with a first date and ends in marriage; instead it’s the story of how our business, and friendship, came to be.
Act One: Girl Meets Boy
Date: Late fall, 1998
- Setting: A hotel conference room in New York. A group of sales and editorial types at a technology magazine are brought together for a business meeting to talk about content, readership and the re-naming of a publication.
- Main Character 1 – The Boy: Classic editorial type, jeans and a t-shirt; sitting in the back of the room, likely laughing at some of the questions that come from the sales team. Of course, everyone knows what a ‘partner’ is and how the distribution channel works..
- Main Character 2- The Girl: Dressed in what she probably thinks is ‘business casual.’ (gasp) New to sales, but not to high tech media. Recruited from a large ad firm in Boston where she bought IT and channel media for companies like Microsoft, NEC, Sony and Lotus. First time attendee of a publishing company sales meeting, and hasn’t learned the ropes (ie, sales and edit don’t really talk to each other.)
Storyline: Two days of intense meetings, sales and editorial teams spend time ‘pitching’ and learning; talking about enhancements and changes to the publication. Nothing groundbreaking to add, but for some reason, the Girl goes away thinking she can call editorial team whenever she has a market question.
Act Two: Girl Calls Boy
The meeting concludes and everyone heads back to their prospective offices — the girl in Boston, the boy in New York City. Sales meetings are booked and research is done. Technology acronyms are flying around the Girl’s office faster than she can keep up. And here are the two acronyms that brought the Boy and the Girl together: SAN and NAS
Girl calls Boy. She just picked up the phone and dialed – no fear of rejection, not concerned that it wouldn’t be appropriate. And asks “what REALLY is the difference between SAN and NAS?” Armed with information, she heads up to New Hampshire for what turns out to be a great meeting – mainly because she knew the difference between SAN and NAS.
The relationship continues like this. The Boy never calls the Girl but she calls him a couple times a month. She learns more and more about the industry and more about the Boy, his family and his personal goals.
Act Three: Girl Leaves Job, Calls Boy Again
The girl marries, has a daughter and leaves the media giant for a different challenge. Soon, she is hooked up with a major business to business publisher developing and selling tech-focused custom media. She wants more out of the writing staff, and gets permission to… Call the Boy.
The Boy is also out on his own, and so they joins forces — developing fresh topics and creating great work for the publisher.
As time goes on, the Girl and Boy continue to learn more about one another, their growing families and their career goals. They never meet up face-to-face during this time; all contact is by phone and email.
Time passes, successes come often, but eventually both the Boy and the Girl decide it’s time for a new career adventure.
Act Four: Girl and Boy Join Startup
Girl joins tech media startup to run sales. It’s terrific to be working with an excellent team and doing groundbreaking work. The business grows rapidly and the editorial team expands.
With whom? The Boy.
During these next few years, the Boy and the Girl meet face-to-face many times; during staff retreats, sales meetings and business planning sessions. The Girl learns these things about the Boy:
- He is VERY funny
- He likes video games, and actually has several full size arcade games in his garage
- He is super smart but also really down to earth
- Did I mention he’s VERY funny
Over time, the Girl and the Boy find they are on the same trajectory. They are both extremely family oriented; in love with their respective spouse and children. They both want, ultimately, to create a business with meaningful product assets. They realize in late 2007, the time is right and, one day, behind an island during a kayak race, they make a pact that they will go into business together…
Act Five: Girl and Boy Launch Business
The rest is history; starting with the launch of Nine Lives Media Inc. in January 2008, which was subsequently sold in August 2011; and now, at After Nines Inc. Best friends, business partners and ready for the challenges ahead.
You can read more in my blog “My Journey and Why it Matters.”
Amy Katz is a technology entrepreneur who has launched, built and sold a range of IT media platforms. As president and CEO of After Nines Inc., she oversees business development, sales and finance for the overall company and ChannelE2E. Read all of her blogs here.