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Can a business between friends actually work? Why would you start a business with your buddies, or hire them to run it? What is the benefit of bringing friends on board as opposed  to hiring strangers?

Many believe that doing business with friends is not the wisest move – quoting the old saying, “don’t mix business with pleasure”. Yet the world of business is filled with companies founded by close friends. Some friend-founded ventures thrive, others end up in fallout.

The founders who beat the odds, share a few traits, such as the ability to be open and to agree to disagree, as well as the profound sense of mutual trust. Launching a business and seeing it take off can turn into something magical when you’re doing it with a friend by your side.

“A good friend knows your best stories. A best friend has lived them with you”…

Personally, I’m a huge fan of doing business with friends. I would rather be having a passionate debate with someone I trust implicitly, a friend who has my back, than a polite disagreement with a total stranger. Besides there is always this great established connection and emotional support that you simply cannot get from people you have just met.

Hiring friends makes sense to me for one simple reason – you get to work with people who you already know and trust. You know their strengths and weaknesses. You have a good understanding of their work ethic, their passions and idiosyncrasies. Very early in the piece you can work out whether they’d be a good fit for your company or not – whereas dealing with a stranger has too many risks and unknowns involved.

There are many ventures founded by friends that have become successful, with a few representing the world’s most prominent and admired brands.

Here’s a look at some of them:

APPLE COMPUTERS INC was founded in 1976, by 2 friends, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

MICROSOFT CORPORATION, one of the world’s most valuable companies, was founded by childhood friends Paul Allen and Bill Gates in 1975.

GOOGLE,  multinational internet technology company, now valued at $560 billion, was founded by 2 friends Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998.

AIRBNB, a massive online holiday stay marketplace used by 40 million people, was hatched in 2008 on a whim,  by roommates and friends Joe Gebbia, Brian Chesky, and Nathan Blecharczyk.

ETSY, an online handmade and vintage marketplace, now a public company with a $2 billion valuation, was originally founded in 2005 by friends – Rob Kalin, Chris Maguire, Jared Tarbell, and Haim Schoppik.

ALIBABA, the e-commerce giant from China and currently the biggest IPO in the world, was founded by Jack Maa and Penh Lei, and launched in 1999 with 17 friends on board.

UBER, one of the leading transportation services in the world, valued at 17 billion dollars, was founded in 2008 by 2 friends Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp.

STARBUCKS, American coffeehouse chain, operating in 23,768 locations worldwide, was originally founded in 1971 by three college buddies, Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker.

VAYNERMEDIA, one of the world’s hottest A-list digital agencies, was founded in 2009 by brothers Gary and AJ Vaynerchuk who started off with hiring eight friends from college to get the ball rolling.

As Gary Waynerchuk puts it,

“When you hire friends, you’re hiring people who you really know. So hiring people who mimic the culture you want to have can have tremendous advantages”.

ELITE DAILY, a media startup, now acquired by Daily Mail for $US40-50 million, was founded in 2012 by 3 friends, David Arabov, Jonathan Francis, and Gerard Adams. 

VACASA , a professional rental management, was founded by Eric Breon, who from the beginning had introduced a strong culture of hiring friends and former colleagues.

CRUNCHBOARDS , a platform for SME and its accountants, now boasting more than 10,000 customers in nearly 90 countries, was founded in 2014 by two best friends, Amy Harris and Hannah McIntyre.

ENVATO, a global giant digital marketplace with headquarters in Melbourne and with over 6 million community members, was founded in 2006 by Collis & Cyan Ta’eed, and a high-school friend Jun Rung.

iCONGO, an e-commerce startup originally founded by 2 friends, Steven Kramer and Joshua Ostregawas, was acquired by software giant SAP for $1.4 billion. In 2014 Steven & Joshua joined forces with another close friend, Mark Sadegursky, launching Workjam, employee-engagement platform for hourly workforce, with revenue growing 150 percent over the past year.

INSIDE SOCIAL, an early-stage tech company, acquired by Simply Measured in 2015, was founded in 2012 by Brewster Stanislaw with one of his oldest friends, Joey Kotkins.  

FRANK BODY, the one of Australia’s most loved beauty and cult coffee-based skincare brands, was founded in 2013 by Bree Johnson and Jess Hatzis and three other long-time friends.

ABROADERS.COM, a premier travel concierge service , was founded in 2013 in Bali by childhood best friends Erik Paquet and A.J. Dunn

MATCHA MYLKBAR, a super popular cool vegan cafe in the heart of St. Kilda in Melbourne, was launched in 2016 by Sarah Holloway, Nic Davidson,  and their long-standing friends and brothers Mark and Attil Filippelli.

BOP INDUSTRIES , Brisbane based holographic projections company that has become a fast growing business, was started in 2015 by Year 11 student Scott Millar with a bunch of his school friends.

RAINRAPS, a line of “waterproof pashminas”, was launched in 2012 by 2 close friends Stacy Struminger and Rachel Teyssier.

Have you been in business with a friend? Do you know some other great ventures founded by buddies-in-business? We would love to hear your stories and thoughts on this.

ZippyCrowd is an emerging skills marketplace and a talent community  making it easy for you to turn your talents and hobbies into a thriving business, and find skilled people backed by friends. Social reputation and friends’s recommendations are at the heart of making ZippyCrowd work. Join our talented community , #getzippy and do it with friends.

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