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Cultivating Co-founder Relationships and a Culture of Trust

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

A Conversation with Alex Frommeyer, CEO and Co-Founder of Beam Benefits



Alex Frommeyer is the CEO and co-founder of Beam Benefits, a company specializing in digital employee benefits. With an impressive track record, Beam has secured over $200 million in venture capital funding, surpassed the $100M gross ARR last year, and has grown its member base by 600% in the last 4 years. Beam operates in 44 states across the United States.


Cliff Notes:

  • Co-Founders defining clear roles and responsibilities based on individual strengths as early as possible is crucial in building a successful business.

  • Effective collaboration is forged in finding areas of compatibility in thinking and combining complementary skill sets.

  • Trust, open communication, and supportive company culture are essential for holding co-founders and employees accountable while maintaining strong relationships.

  • Incorporating moments of humor can help co-founders and teams navigate challenges and address potential threats.

 

Building a successful business requires more than just a great idea. It requires a solid foundation of trust, effective communication, and clear roles and responsibilities within the co-founder relationship. In a recent conversation Alex Frommeyer, CEO and co-founder of Beam Benefits had with the Redbud VC founders, we delved into the topic of how he and his co-founders navigated their roles, held each other accountable, and maintained a strong partnership throughout their entrepreneurial journey.


Frommeyer emphasized the importance of defining roles and responsibilities early on in the business. He mentioned that their trio of co-founders, who had been together since college, initially sat around a kitchen table in their apartment, each bringing unique skills and interests to the table. Frommeyer described their partnership dynamics:


"We each had distinct roles and responsibilities that played to our strengths. I was more of the visionary and sales-oriented founder, while my co-founders had legal affairs and design expertise. By focusing on complementary skill sets, we could collaborate effectively without stepping on each other's toes."


Compatibility in thinking and establishing roles based on natural talents allowed Frommeyer and his co-founders to find common ground and avoid friction in decision-making. Each co-founder had a distinct area of expertise and interest that complemented the others. Frommeyer took on sales, marketing, and business development, as he was naturally inclined to interact with customers. Another co-founder had an interest and competency in the legal aspects, which proved valuable when establishing an insurance company. The third co-founder excelled in art and design, particularly user interfaces and visuals. Their clearly defined roles and non-competitive skill sets enabled them to work together without stepping on each other's toes.


One of the challenges in a co-founder relationship is holding each other accountable while maintaining trust and friendship. Frommeyer acknowledged the difficulty of navigating this balance, particularly when it came to addressing missed commitments or disagreements. However, his long-standing relationship with and deep understanding of his co-founder's personalities and strengths helped them navigate these challenges. Frommeyer highlighted that their deep commitment to each other was directly correlated to Beam’s emerging company culture:


"Accountability is tied to the culture we built within the company. We focused on how we did our work rather than constantly monitoring each other's actions. Trust and open communication were essential. We had a foundation of trust that allowed us to confront difficult situations honestly."


A key aspect of Beam’s culture was a sense of humor and self-awareness, reflected in half-serious jokes between Frommeyer and his co-founders, such as "Did I get fired?" and "Did we run out of money yet?" These jokes, though lighthearted, served as reminders of the existential threats every startup faces and the importance of constantly moving the business forward. "We openly discussed the potential for role changes or even parting ways. By doing so, we created a space where we could address the existential threat without hesitation. This allowed us to focus on the business's growth and ensure that everyone continuously contributed their best efforts."


In the end, Alex Frommeyer and his co-founders exemplified the power of trust, communication, and humor in building a successful business. Their journey is an example for aspiring entrepreneurs, highlighting the importance of establishing clear roles, holding each other accountable, and fostering a supportive environment. As Frommeyer aptly said, "Entrepreneurship is not just about the business idea, but about the relationships and culture you build along the way." So, whether you're embarking on your own entrepreneurial adventure or navigating the uncharted waters of a co-founder relationship, remember to embrace trust, open communication, and the occasional well-timed joke.

 

Redbud VC is an early-stage venture capital fund and studio investing monetary and social capital in early-stage tech founders. Learn more about Redbud by signing up for our newsletter or by following us on Twitter.

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