What The Heck Is

What the heck is…. a Copreneur?

By Kitty Knowles 4 May 2017
Tom and Nicola Chilman are the copreneur founders of DoodleMaths. Pic: DoodleMaths.

Explaining the buzzwords of the moment: what is a copreneur and how are they shaking up business today?

Our weekly series What The Heck Is… exists to shed light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.

From social eating to teledildonics we’re on a mission to explain the difficult to explain.

Now, in honour of Future Family month, we’re exploring lingo that relates to your relatives.

Today’s word might sounds like a bit of a mish-mash, but it’s actually all about making beautiful business.

Time to meet the ‘copreneurs’ of the future…

What the heck is a copreneur?

Not everyone wants to keep their work and personal lives separate.

That’s why there’s a blend word for ‘couples’ who also partner up as ‘entrepreneurs’.

Copreneurs can be husband-and-wife teams, or any kind of couple.

Most have co-founded a business together, but in some cases a partner joins after founding to take up a leading positions as a chief digital officer, chief finance officer or the like.

Guy Gunaratne and Heidi Lindvall, founders of Maven. Pic: YouTube/Urban Crux.
Guy Gunaratne and Heidi Lindvall, founders of Maven. Pic: YouTube/Urban Crux.

Where did copreneurship come from?

Copreneurship itself isn’t new: massive companies like internet giant Cisco and cosmetics empire Estée Lauder are among a number of husband-and-wife ventures founded in the last 100 years.

But the word itself is relatively new, only cropping up in conversation in the 2000s.

In recent years you will have seen it slip into media more frequently, as more and more couples decide to share businesses as well as a bed.

Who are the copreneurs?

In the UK alone there are already 1.4m ‘copreneurs’, and that figure rises to 3m in the US (according to coaching business CoPreneur CPR, itself run by a husband and wife team).

Many of the digital leaders we profile on The Memo are copreneurs (even if it’s not a name they’d give themselves).

Husband-and-wife team Guy Gunaratne and Heidi Lindvall run the video platform Maven; and in education, Tom and Nicola Chilman created DoodleMaths, the UK’s best-selling maths app last year.

In finance, Keyo (or ‘palm pay’, as we’ve dubbed it) is run by husband and wife Jaxon Klein and Cayetana Polanco (along with a friend Delna Sepoy Straus – we hope you don’t feel like too much of a third wheel!).

The couple behind F.lux had such a great product, before Apple “ripped them off”.

Why should you care?

The way we live and work is changing, and the perks of copreneurship make it a growing trend.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise: copreneurship can mean more time spent with the love of your life, enjoying a shared passion, as well as more flexibility to meet other family needs.

Research from the Harvard Business Review also suggests that women particularly benefit from copreneurship, earning up to 27% more than they do as solo founders.

That doesn’t mean copreneurship is without its challenges: since launching her own law firm in 2009, solicitor Karen Holden has observed a growing trend of couples going into business together and then divorcing.

By creating a legal founder’s agreement, with pre and post-nups, Holden believes copreneurs can ease any potential turmoil, she explains.

In short the copreneur is here, and it’s here to stay.

It’s up to you, however, to decide whether you’d enjoy mixing business with pleasure.