Entrepreneur 2 Entrepreneur: Paul Saarinen on Family



PSFINALThank you to Split Rock Partners for underwriting the Entrepreneur 2 Entrepreneur Series.

Paul Saarinen is the cofounder & CEO of Miinome — a Minneapolis startup concerned with genetic sequencing, privacy, and profit.

Of all the topics available, why did you pick “family”?

The biggest misconception is only young, single people have successful startups, and people with families have baggage, responsibilities, and too much to lose. Founders rarely talk about the impact on their spouses or children. It is like have another child, and a second spouse.

It takes time away from your family, and everyone has to be prepared for that type of commitment. There is financial strain, missed events with the kids, and the worst is not being mentally present even when you are at home. Startups are consuming beasts.


What is it like doing a startup with a family?

My youngest daughter was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. She had also had open-heart surgery when she was four months old. That experience makes you more prepared for what may happen, but it does not make process much easier emotionally. I also had a double whammy moment a few months later when my father committed suicide.

I knew I had to take some time off from everything else, and focus on my family. It wasn’t even a decision. It is what you do as a father, son, and caregiver. It is the right thing to do.

How has your family impacted your startup or vice versa?

Having children introduces most of us to organized chaos. It is a good training ground for having a startup. If you are trying to make the world a better place, what better motivation and purpose are your children? They are constant reminders of why you do what you do. Failure happens often, so it is a benefit to have that motivation.

Startups are an emotional roller coaster, so having a spouse that supports you provides an advantage for the good days and the bad.

What advice do you have for peer entrepreneurs starting with families?

Remind your spouse you are clearly out of your mind. They will already know this fact. Set at least one night to disconnect, and spend that time with your kids, and another with your spouse. Be transparent with financials, and set barriers if you are bootstrapping. Thank them for supporting you, and tell them you love them often.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

My daughter is doing great, I have a great relationship with my wife, and I have the best friends and family in the world who helped me through some very difficult times. Building something out of nothing is hard enough, but with support like that it gets easier.


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  • Chris Carlson

    Great interview Paul. I had my wife read this just a few moments ago. Gets to the heart of the ever present balancing act a founder has between her two families. Further, how critically important it is that these two ‘families’ fit hand in glove with one another.