After the breakup: The Closing Company
These entrepreneurs built a company, divorced, sold it - and launched a second venture together.
When entrepreneurial couples divorce, their company is usually dissolved and the assets divided. But among a few hardy partners, a romantic breakup doesn't end the business connection.
Perhaps no one knows that better than Yvette Betancourt and Martyn Verster. They married in 1988, and eight years later, Betancourt saw demand for a high-end school bus service that featured comfortable seats and snacks. She promptly created a company to fill the niche. Soon, she was managing a fleet of ten vans.
The business took off, but when the couple divorced in 2001 - "not just because of work," says Verster, "there was a lot of other stress" - they sold the company and pursued separate careers.
Three years later, Betancourt began itching to launch a title-and-escrow firm. She asked Verster to join her. Verster said yes.
He's a lawyer; she's a real-estate agent: a perfect match.
In 2004 The Closing Company was born in Miami. It turned profits its first year and grossed $600,000 in 2007.
"Before, when we disagreed, there was this this underlying feeling of 'Don't you love me?'" explains Betancourt. "It sounds immature, but that comes into play. Some separate feelings out, but we're better off working not as a couple." Both remain unmarried, though Betancourt is in a relationship.
She relies on Verster for legal matters, he counts on her for marketing, and their two children can see their parents together on a day-to-day basis. Customers are impressed.
"They don't step on each other's toes," says client David Kutner, franchisee owner of HomeVestors of America.
"We've been told," says Betancourt, "that if we can manage two companies and an amicable divorce, then tricky real estate issues must be a piece of cake." - Phaedra Hise, with additional reporting by Ingrid Tharasook.
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