Dividing the imaginary CAYA pie

April 19, 2016

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Before we even start, I just want to point out that this is a Lemon and Blueberry Layered Cake I really want Kate to make for me because it looks eyes-rolled-back-in-my-head good. It has absolutely nothing to do with this post. Click for the recipe. If you make it and let me try some, I will probably smother you in love and chocolate for a lifetime.

Lemon and Blueberry Layered Cake

Today was the second time I cried about CAYA.The first was on Commercial Street as I listened to the other half of a telephone conversation Kate was having with Start Up Direct about our funding. But you already know about that. Because I wrote about it here.

But this was a conversation I was dreading. I have been dreading it for months. And today I found my balls and realised that to stop feeling the dread every time I thought about – and found a million other pressing things to do – I needed to face it head on.

Equity.

A conversation that would be so much easier if there was an outsider involved. A third person whom Kate and I could mutually defend our share of the pie against and against whom we would not give away shares like we wouldn’t give away our first-borns.

Yet, we are in the fortunate position, that there is no third person. Between us, we have managed to borrow what we need and for the extra – I am able to put in my savings. If Kate had any, I’m fairly sure she’s put hers in to – but as she doesn’t – it makes sense that I do rather than take out more debt against the business.

This business. This concept CAYA – has only evolved to what it is now both through the shared talents and tenacity of both of us. I can’t speak for Kate but I know that I wouldn’t feel half as confident as I do about the decisions we make without her by my side, and I’m not sure I would stake the best years of my career on a pipe-dream that I’m not sure I could pull off on my own.

When I registered CAYA LTD at Companies House last March – I did it in part because I wanted Kate to quit. I wanted us to try and I wanted our drunken talk on a week night after another shitty day at our old job mean something in the real world.

It was 50:50 all the way.

That is until money got involved.

And the dream looked like it might be a reality.

And so, just shy of a year since I registered our company, I sat down with my very close, personal friend and co-founder, Ms Enright, to have the formal discussion of who owns what.

Don’t get me wrong. We’d skirted around the issues before, talked through things but since there was actual figures and a starting budget, we now had to be realistic about – not if the business went bust as it’s fairly obvious we’d both walk away with nothing - what would happen if it went well.

This might seem arbitrary to most but this felt like a conversation a couple might have when the issue to have or to not have a pre-nup drawn up. No one in the their right mind would go into a marriage or buy a house (two of the biggest decisions that the majority of the western human population faces in their lives) without considering what would happen if the partnership broke up.

Oh wait. That happens all the time and people wear rose-tinted classes, and say their partnership will be different. And that’s why there are divorce lawyers – who mainly holiday in exotic locations every Christmas and own several homes around the world. Plus, you know, that thing that happened between Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg.

But to me, that sounds insane. And whilst I have very little physical wealth (although if anyone tried to steal my Timothy Reza sequinned cape, I would hunt them down and cut it off them. Just sayin’…) I will not lose hard-earned relationships over something like money.

So Kate and I had an honest chat. I said what I had been advised, and how I felt that should play out. She said what she wanted and how she thought that might play out. I agreed. We agreed. I cried. Kate gave me a hug and it made the crying worse. I stuffed a pita in my mouth to stop myself from sobbing.

You’ll come to realise that I’m the waterworks in the CAYA office. My eyes water when I laugh, when I love, when I really need a wee. But with that comes the woman who won’t take a first answer, who will fight hard to get the best deal and who will be brutal when it comes to defending her CAYA cubs.

So today, Kate and I agreed our pre-nup. And I will no doubt sleep better as a result.

For similar experiences that others have about sorting out their equity – and who also realise that it’s not all as unemotional as Wall Street would have us believe – listen to these great podcast episodes (or download the whole series as they are personal favourites of mine)