This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Starting a Business With a Friend? Here's How to Remain Friends

Cornell college buddies Niraj Shah and Steve Conine have started three Internet-related businesses (one of which while still in school) over the years. Their most successful venture to date is the online furniture retailer Wayfair.

Over the past 10 years, Wayfair, originally called CSN Stores, has grown to roughly $500 million in revenue.

The secret to staying friends and partners is the mutual respect they have for each other and their strengths, Conine says.

In their senior year in 1995, the friends took an entrepreneur and enterprise class where they were charged with coming up with a business plan. Given the fast-growing interest in the internet and later e-commerce, Shah and Conine came up with a business that built websites for small companies in the local college area.

After they graduated, the two moved their business to Boston and continued to work tirelessly throughout the summer and after that. By the time the company was sold in 1998, the partners had added several large clients, including Time Warner, the New York Times, and Merrill Lynch to their portfolio.

"The first three to four years (of working together) were probably the most challenging of our relationship," Conine says. "It takes a while to build up a mutual respect for each other's talents and figuring out what each was good at. The closest analogy to working with a friend is marriage. It's a very similar dynamic. With any relationship you got to put effort into it and you got to care about the person you're building the relationship with."

After selling the company the pair split up for a couple of years but found themselves both back in Boston and both wanting to work together again, continuing on their e-commerce theme. Wayfair came originally from another idea to cull multiple websites selling goods into one architectural framework.

At Wayfair, Shah takes the title of CEO, while Conine is its chairman and chief technology officer.

Even after the dot com bubble burst, the pair was inspired by Amazon's (AMZN) success and kept seeing the trend toward e-commerce and decided to acquire many of the online small businesses and move them to one online storefront to sell their goods.

At one point, the predecessor to Wayfair had more than 200 separate websites, selling every kind of product imaginable. Slowly they began to collapse the websites and rein in what the website was selling to mainly furniture and d├ęcor. Just last September the company changed its name to Wayfair. Going forward, the company will be focusing on expanding awareness of the online furniture retailer.

Putting aside your pride is very difficult to get used to, but critical when first starting out, Conine says.

"When you go from being a friend to working in an environment where your career and livelihood depend on each other, you start to be more critical. In the early years together we would have meetings where we would just want to punch each other. It takes a while to get to the point where you start to see where he is trying to be helpful and has your best interests in mind," Conine says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

To follow Laurie Kulikowski on Twitter, go to: http://twitter.com/#!/LKulikowski

>To submit a news tip, email: tips@thestreet.com.

RELATED STORIES:







Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
2 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,074.67 +130.86 0.77%
S&P 500 1,977.59 +10.02 0.51%
NASDAQ 4,436.0720 +20.5820 0.47%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto
Advertising Partners

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs