For some of us, hanging out with our parents is something best relegated to off-work hours and holidays. But Kenneth Lerer and Ben Lerer have had some big successes working together at Lerer Ventures, the New York City venture capital firm whose portfolio includes BuzzFeed, Warby Parker, Everlane, FancyHands, and many others.
So when we had the chance to talk with Ken and Ben backstage at Disrupt NYC 2013 this morning, we asked how exactly they make the family dynamic work so well in a business setting. According to them, a big key has been that Lerer Ventures is not the only thing they’ve got going on — Ben is also very consumed with running Thrillist and e-commerce arm JackThreads, and Ken has had a number of other ventures throughout the years such as Huffington Post in addition to his investing work. Ben said:
“A big reason that it works so well is that a lot of the emotion and sort of the drama that comes with business that could maybe make it stressful and put strain on the relationship doesn’t necessarily exist because this isn’t the only thing that we’re working on. When we started the fund, dad still had HuffPo, and I’m obviously full-time running Thrillist and JackThreads. So I have other things in my life that I can stress out about and freak out about, and it allows me to really just take the good of the Lerer Ventures stuff and it’s not as emotionally charged as running my other business. So it takes some pressure off of the relationship.”
Another key, Ken added, was that it’s not just a family business.
“Don’t underestimate the value of having Eric Hippeau and Jordan Cooper as partners, because I think if it was just the two of us it might not be perfect, but with the four of us, it’s pretty perfect.”
We also talked to the Lerers about the importance of beautiful design when it comes to startup success, and how being vocal about politics — Kenneth is a prominent supporter of President Obama and a staunch anti-NRA advocate — affects their business deals. Check it all out in the video embedded above.