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Spouses Brian and Beth Handrigan inducted as Pipeline fellows for their individual businesses

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Spouses Brian and Beth Handrigan were in the unique position of representing two different classes of fellows at this year’s Pipeline Entrepreneur Innovators Awards.

Most couples who are entrepreneurs tend to work together on the same business, but Brian was at Pipeline with his company, Recursive Labs, and Beth was there with her company, Lean Media.

Recursive Labs was hitting a point to scale, so Brian applied to Pipeline and got in. He recommended that Beth apply too. Initially she wasn’t interested but after witnessing the changes to Brian’s company, she changed her mind.

“I sat back and watched all the progress that Brian made over the past year, was really highly impressed, did a little bit more research on my own, and decided to go for it,” said Beth.

A year ago, Brian was in Beth’s seat at Pipeline. He thought the process could be overwhelming at times, but Beth is at an advantage having seen Brian go through it already.

“I’m really just more excited and thrilled to start the process,” said Beth.

Two businesses, one beginning

Brian and Beth worked together at a digital marketing agency when the inspiration for Brian’s business hit.

“The first idea was for a secure screen sharing platform that is the foundation of Recursive Labs,” said Brian.

Recursive Labs focuses on screen sharing in highly secure industries like healthcare or financial services.

“We have a patent on what makes us a little different and better,” said Brian. “What’s really critical is we do all our engineering and innovation in-house”

Through client work with Recursive Labs, Brian and Beth had another idea. That second idea turned into Lean Media, which leverages offline data to target verified farm producers.

“Our clients are advertisers and agencies that represent large advertisers for companies like John Deere, Monsanto, Dupont, Pioneer,” said Beth.

Striking a balance

Throughout their business developments, they never really considered working together. When Brian jumped into Recursive Labs with zero revenue but high value, they thought it would be irresponsible for both of them to be employed by the company.

“[It’s] only slightly irresponsible for us both to have tech startups now,” Beth added with a laugh.

With two tech entrepreneurs in the marriage, they have to balance risk versus reward with their companies.

“Frankly we had the benefit, my cofounder and I, to sit back and watch those first few years with Recursive Labs and see what worked well,” said Beth.

“Her business has much more revenue than mine,” interjected Brian.

Business support starts at home

The support they gain from each other also helps navigate the ups and downs of business startups. Brian calls Beth his startup enabler.

“I’ve always said [that] my ability to do the different businesses I’ve had over the years, and even jump into this venture specifically, is only because that whole other part of, perhaps stress and doubt, didn’t exist at home,” said Brian.

“My support that I get from Brian is more, kind of, pushing me to go that extra step,” said Beth.

The differences in their approach to work are also evident in their approach to Pipeline.

“Beth is extremely prepared and I walk in and wing it,” said Brian.

“We’ve known each other for thirty years and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Brian actually type out a script,” added Beth.

Occasionally, Beth finds herself taking a page from Brian. She recently gave a ninety minute talk to women entrepreneurs and she went into the presentation without a script.

“We definitely flipped the tables,” said Beth “But I think that goes to [the] question of supporting each other and learning from each other.”

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