Hi, my name is Michelle and I am a startup wife. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

Like many people in my position, I never expected it to happen to me. It wasn’t a carpe diem moment. In my case, it was more of a highly unexpected detour. (I may not be fearless, but at least I’m honest.)

It happened in the fall of 2013 when, after two failed relationships at local startups, my husband was unemployed and at a loss for what to do next. As Charles’ initial exposure to the startup world had not gone well, my first solution was to tell him to find a normal job.

We weren’t fresh out of university. We were adults with two young daughters, a one-year-old and a three-year-old. One-year-olds are demanding by nature and our eldest daughter was born with moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears. To overcome her language delays, she needed weekly speech therapy and daily reinforcement from us.

The cherry on this sundae was that I had also returned to work full-time as a writer in a highly deadline-driven corporate marketing department.

It wasn’t as if we’d never taken a huge risk. In 2007, we sold our home in Texas and gave up everything we knew to move to Australia, where Charles had the opportunity to complete a PhD in chemistry. Still, while this was a life-changing adventure, six years, another international move and two kids later, our current journey in Waterloo wasn’t going so smoothly.

In between bouts of parenting stress and job-hunt angst, Charles and I agreed that he should check out this thing called “Startup Drinks” that he’d been mentioning. Being relatively new to the area, we knew that networking was important.

When he came home one night from Kwartzlab, a local makerspace that he learned about through Startup Drinks, he told me he had met someone else whose PhD involved researching materials for 3D printing.

I thought it was nice that he was making connections, but I didn’t think much of anything else beyond that. Except for maybe that we were out of milk.

Fast forward to a few months later when he and his now business partner, Andrew, took up residence in our basement. So did a 3D printer and this extruder thing that Charles had dreamed up.

They seemed so excited when they were able to print cake frosting. I admit to failing to see the glory and repeatedly asking how the job hunt was going. Did I mention that a 3D printer emits a constant high-pitched noise that’s nearly as agitating as a dog whistle?

As they experimented in our unfinished basement, surrounded by discarded preschool toys and other miscellaneous items banished to the darkness, they decided to apply for the spring 2014 cohort of Communitech HYPERDRIVE.

A key selling point for me was that this would get them out of my basement and into real office space. Either that, or they were going to have to learn how to throw in a load of laundry every now and then. My three-year-old also genuinely believed that Andrew was living in our basement.

With HYPERDRIVE as a goal, the application date became mission critical. They developed a prototype, and apparently a pretty decent pitch, because they did it – they got in!

I wasn’t the saint-like cheerleader wife. It was more silent (or not so silent) acquiescence. We were both working pretty hard and no matter how you defined it (even if you didn’t fully understand it), it was progress.

A worrier by nature, I was busy predicting the apocalypse. Meanwhile, they were starting a soon-to-be-highly-successful crowdfunding campaign.

With every step, I held my breath. With every step, an expert from the Communitech community has been there to guide them.

Where are we now? I’m still holding my breath. When asked, “How’s everything going at Charles’ company?” I still stumble for answers. I get bug-eyed when you mention fundraising. But, I’m getting there.

I’m starting to open up to this community and truly get to know the people involved. It’s not what you’d expect. There are people from every stage of life – each with a unique vision and passion.

Someone stop me before I create my own startup. But not until after I figure out what to put in my child’s lunchbox. Or maybe, I’ll just form a support group.

Photo: Michelle Gold-Mire at home with her family

About The Author

Michelle Gold-Mire
Freelance marketing-communications writer

Michelle Gold-Mire is a freelance marketing-communications writer. A mother of two and lover of words, she enjoys good coffee, great conversation and five minutes of free time whenever she can find it.