He’s the frequent subject of my columns. Now, the founder of Stonyfield Farm gets to speak up about what he’s learned from being my favorite recurring character. Read the Inc. Magazine article here.
Andrew and Kathy Abraham on the advantages and disadvantages of leaving a professional career to start a business, and why Andrew hung up his stethoscope to gamble everything on a drink.
Q: The first year of medical residency is an unlikely time to start a business.
A: I was working hundred hour weeks, and Kathy was pregnant with our first child. Kathy used to joke that she slept more in a night than I did in a week.
Q: What were you thinking?
A: The idea for this business grew from my own personal story. In 1999, when I was a senior in high school, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. I was treated with surgery, chemo, and radiation. I lost a lot of weight, and couldn’t tolerate food. I completed my senior year from my hospital bed. My treatment was effective, but at the time I had to sustain myself on these “healthy” drinks that tasted horrible. I started reading the labels—it was all terrible stuff. The first ingredient was GMO corn syrup, then artificial Continue reading
Tom First on doing deals just before his rehearsal dinner; on crying when he first fired someone; and on why he wouldn’t change much in his past.
Q: What was it like, building a company and a family at the same time?
A: It wasn’t really at the same time. I was really young—22—when we started Nantucket Nectars. I didn’t get married until I was 29, and I was 35 when we sold the company. During those years I was traveling like a maniac—forgot what city I was in, that kind of thing.
Q: The company was growing fast at that point. How did Kristan feel about your work mania?
A: Kristan was in architecture school. It was an odd time in our lives. She was as obsessed with work as I was. But even so, my preoccupation with work took some getting used to. She grew up in LA, and we got married out there. At that time, Nantucket Nectars was not doing well in LA, so I saw our wedding as a great opportunity to go out and meet with distributors.
She saw me for the first time at 4 pm the day the rehearsal dinner. She said, You’ve got to be kidding me! At the time, I didn’t get it. I feel bad about it now. I thought I was doing the right thing for everybody. It bothered her, but there was an Continue reading
Wendi Goldsmith on the futility of trying to prepare your spouse for the roller-coaster of business; how starting a business can be likened to falling gravely ill; why the spouse should support the entrepreneur’s business as they would a child’s passionate hobby.
Q: You were young when you founded your business.
A: I was 26 and married to my college sweetheart. My starting a business was surprising not only to my friends and family, but to me as well. My first husband was supportive, but not really comfortable with it. He felt like I was too much in the driver’s seat. He had less of the excitement of the dream and more the downside, without the rush. It was tough. I did everything that entrepreneurs do but probably shouldn’t: maxed out the credit cards, took a second mortgage on the house. Sometimes he’d agree to my doing that, then resent it later. It was understandably out of his comfort zone.
Q: In retrospect, would you have done anything differently? Maybe prepared your former husband for what company-founding might entail?
A: There’s not much I could have changed. Entrepreneurs jump in and fake it ‘til they make it, even when we start with a detailed plan. You can’t have a legitimate Continue reading
Extended breaks are wonderful things, unless the spouse and kids have other plans. Read the Inc. Magazine column here.