From Couples to Co-Founders: Our fav duos dish on being in biz together

Couple co-founders that spend 24/7 with each other have a sneaky entrepreneurial advantage – and that’s the ability to move fast.  From being each other’s secret weapon to occasionally having to ask “are you telling me that as my husband or as the CEO?” – couple co-founders have the ability to skip the scheduled meetings and make decisions on the fly – or at school pick up.

This Valentine’s Day we’re getting all loved up and asking three super successful co-founders how they met, how they kick-started their entrepreneurial journey together and what the best thing is about building a startup with your number one.

Rosa-Clare Willis and Andrew Ford – Crockd

Rosa-Clare Willis and Andrew Ford officially launched Crockd in February 2020, as a way of providing consumers with an at-home pottery kits designed to get your hands dirty and your mind clear.

The mission of Crockd is to move beyond the labels and judgements that exclude us from getting creative, and to allow users to disconnect from technology and connect through real, meaningful conversations.

But a few years before this global e-commerce startup took these two founders around the world, the pair met by chance at an entrepreneurial event at a Gold Coast Surf Club. The rest, as they say, is history.


Q: Can you tell us a little bit about how you met?

RCW: We actually met at a startup event on the Gold Coast! Andrew had just moved to the Gold Coast around a month earlier, and I had just moved to the coast around 6 days earlier. We had both bought tickets for an entrepreneur event with Michael Dempsey at Burleigh Lifesaving Club.

I was waiting in line to speak with Michael and Andrew was behind me – he stood out because he was the only guy in the room with suit pants and a button up shirt. Turns out we actually both grew up in Sydney not too far from each other and both wanted to own our own business one day. We’ve barely spent a day apart since!

Q: When did you start working together?

RCW: When we started dating in 2017 we were both working in startups with flexible work options, so we started working alongside each other from day one in different coworking spaces across the coast. We immediately became aware of each other’s working style (Andrews is a lot more authoritarian than mine) and during those early years came up with about a hundred different business ideas.

We came up with the idea for Crockd around November 2019. I had just left my job about 3 months earlier because I knew I wanted to start my own business, and we started working together from the garage of our apartment in Kirra. Crockd is now 2 years old – and we’ve worked every day together over those 2 years!

Q: Any funny stories about when your first started working together – in the early days?

RCW: We launched Crockd on Valentine’s Day with just a render on our website – we hadn’t received any package or product or anything. We had ordered 10 boxes from the printers and sold 17 kits on day one… so immediately we underestimated our stock.

Andrew was still working at another startup, so we we’re mostly doing all of the work – which was a lot of manual work, cutting clay, hand stamping packaging – after hours and on weekends. We quicky outgrew out kitchen and convinced our neighbour to cut clay in our garage while we were at work so we could keep up with orders!

Andrew said there was no way he would quit his job unless we hit 100 orders (which we originally thought may take up to 6 months). We hit it in around a week and the rest is history.

Q: What is the best thing about working alongside each other?

RCW: I think having a co-founder in general is so valuable. I don’t understand how people are solo-founders, I really do believe that the right co-founder can add so much contrasting value to the business.

I say this all the time but I really do think we’re each other’s secret weapon. We work so complimentary with each other and we’re really passionate about different parts of the business.

There’s no politics with us – which can happen in startups, I’ve seen it.

We also have the ability to move so quickly which has been a huge advantage when you are the first in market with something. There’s no wasted time booking meetings, or scheduling calls. So many times we’ve thought of something over coffee or on a walk and within half an hour we’ve evaluated and made the business decision.

Q: What would you say each other’s strengths are in business?

RCW: Andrew is a professional plate spinner. He constantly has a hundred things on the go and is so good at moving things along. His greatest strength is that he asks the unexpected, right questions. He thinks of things from a totally different perspective. He is the true definition of a CEO – his understanding of business and finance keeps the operations side of the business running.

I’m definitely passionate about the creative direction of the brand. From articulating how the brand looks, to knowing innately how I want people to feel when they receive our products. From web, product, advertising etc – the marketing and artistic side is my strength.


Katie and Tim Walmsley– BenchOn

Katie and Tim Walmsley realised that the problem of employee underutilisation was two sided, and so they created a business only, sharing economy platform that allows businesses to earn extra revenue by loaning their staff to other businesses in need.

BenchOn is a world first platform that is revolutionising and streamlining the way organisations collaborate with their contingent resource and supply chain partners.

Wondering what it’s like being married to your co-founder? Well, read on to find out.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about how you met?

TW: Katie and I met in 1998 at High School in year 11. I had just moved to the Gold Coast from Brisbane and started at AB Paterson College in Arundel. Katie and I became friends quite quickly but it wasn’t until later in the year that we got together as a couple. Since then we have grown up together.

KW: Tim was the new boy at school who for some reason caught my attention.  After becoming really good friends it was just a natural progression to start dating… He grew on me!

Q: When did you start working together?

TW: Working together wasn’t something we ever thought we would do. We are opposite personalities when it comes to work so we thought it would never work. We only started working together once BenchOn started to take off. Katie had plenty of experience making businesses function properly so one day I asked for her help. Then I asked for more help. Then I asked her to quit her job and work with BenchOn fulltime. Considering by that stage she was the engine room of the business, we made it official and she became the COO and Co-Founder.

KW: I don’t think I ever intentionally made the decision to work together but we have the complete opposite skillsets.  Once Tim started BenchOn, it was clear where the shortfall was and what started as me helping out became a good partnership in the business.

Q: Any funny stories about when your first started working together – in the early days?

TW: Finding the line between work and home life was a little difficult in the beginning. We worked from home so there was no difference between work hours and home life. We would be having, let’s call them “debates”, and it wasn’t uncommon for you to hear something like “Are you telling me that as my husband or as the CEO?” So, we invented ‘the hat system’ where you would take off your ‘work hat’ and put on your ‘family hat’. Not actual hats but you get the point. It worked, sort of. We gave it up when I realised I would lose either way. “As the COO, I disagree with you, but I will get it done. As your wife, I think the CEO is a DICK!”

KW: Specific stories are hard to come up with as I am one of the few people that does not think Tim is funny.  I always find it amusing when I hear our employees and customers referencing our inside jokes.  We always said we would keep put work life separate to our personal life but it is clear we have completely failed in the best way possible.  There is no work life or personal life, there is just our life.

Q: What is the best thing about working alongside each other?

TW: Katie has a saying that you can’t get anything done without ‘stakeholder buy-in’. That applies to business, life, anything really. If the people connected, whether they are investors, family, friends or clients, aren’t buying into what you are trying to do, it’s impossible to get it done. Working together on this, we have that buy-in. So if one of us is working late, or has to travel a lot, the other gets why and is fully supportive. That helps get through those tough times.

KW: There are so many good and bad aspects depending on your perspective at the time.  I think the best thing is that we get to see each other in our element and see each other for who we really are. Not just our spouse or co-parent but how the rest of the world sees us.  I think we get to share more with each other which makes us closer (sometimes).

Q: What would you say each other’s strengths are in business?

TW: Katie is super organised and methodical and she has the uncanny ability to turn the gruffest, cynical, grumpy client into her best friend. I don’t know how she does that. That’s why she calls each company that joins BenchOn. So she has a direct relationship and I think it’s for that reason that we have such high customer satisfaction.

KW: Tim loves all things business, collaboration and strategy.  When he gets to share something that he is passionate about with other people he is magnetic and charismatic and this is something that cannot be taught, it is an art.

Kate Morgan and Kirk Reynoldson – Eggy

Kate Morgan and Kirk Reynoldson have taken their teenage dream from Schoolies ‘96 to a family of five – juggling life on the Gold Coast while working, studying, and raising three kids.

After a few missed bills and an unpaid car rego, the dynamic duo set off to build a life admin tool to solve a problem that many face around the globe. Fast forward to today, the recently launched Eggy is a mobile app that aims to make life unscrambled, allowing users to easily manage their life admin online.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about how you met?

KM: We met on Schoolies Week in 1996 – where all good long-term relationships start. I was standing on the side of the road with a carton of VB when Kirk pulled up in his canary yellow Toyota Corolla. Fireworks really.

Q: When did you start working together?

KM: We started working together about 3 years ago and about 3 kids ago. We think. It’s been a bit of a blur. It’s mind boggling that we haven’t filed for divorce yet. Funny what happens when you’ve put everything on the line and have no Plan B though.

Q: Any funny stories about when your first started working together – in the early days?

KM: In 2011 (pre-Eggy), we actually met the person who was responsible for us pushing ahead with Eggy in a bottle shop in Buenos Aires. We heard the Aussie accent of Pete Cassidy and his powerhouse wife Rach. Ten years later, they’re exceptional friends and Eggy advisors.

Not early days but just yesterday, we were in the office together when at 3.20pm we realised we forgot to pick up our little girl from school. She just started prep this week. We’re still getting used to the 2.45pm pickup. Our panicked response would’ve been pretty funny to watch. Sorry Lol.

Q: What is the best thing about working alongside each other?

KM: It’s definitely not Kirk’s penchant for eating tuna in the office. We’re a bit Ted and Rebecca – we complement each other, fill each other’s gaps and pick each other up. Except there’s never a daily delivery of shortbread biscuits unfortunately.

Q: What would you say each other’s strengths are in business?

KM:  Kirk’s strengths are numbers, strategy and running at brick walls. If something needs to be done, he’ll make it happen. He’s probably the most mentally tough person I’ve ever known. But he’s also exceptionally caring and really big on culture. And community. He loves bringing people together and making everyone feel like they’re part of something special. Which they are.

KR::  Kate’s strength is her values and the standards she set’s for herself and those around her every day.  She is a finisher and her uncanny eye for value is second to none.  She knows where to focus resources to make maximum impact.  She is also the most gifted communicator I know.  Her ability to connect her thoughts with her words and engage a community is pretty special.