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Are Couples in Business Made in Heaven or in Hell?

Is it wise to take your business ideas from the bedroom to the boardroom?
Are Couples in Business Made in Heaven or in Hell?
Image credit: Entrepreneur India

Couples getting together to spend a lifetime with each other can be a rosy idea. But the same getting together to start and sustain a company together can turn into a nightmare in no time.

Sandeep Aggarwal and Radhika Ghai, the founders of Shopclues, started the online marketplace in 2011 with co-founder Sanjay Sethi.

A fraudulent insider trading case relating to investment firm SAC Capital led to an arrest of Aggarwal in 2013. The case resulted in co-founder Sethi taking over as CEO of Shopclues the same year while Aggarwal pleaded guilty to insider trading allegations in the United States.

In a Facebook post earlier this year, Aggarwal accused wife and Shopclues Chief Financial Officer of fraud and denying him rights as a co-founder and largest individual shareholder of the company.

The post went on to malign Ghai’s personal image by alleging his former wife had an affair with the co-founder of the company.

According to Aggarwal, Ghai and Sethi had forged voting rights such that he lost the right to nominate a board member. He claims to have 12 per cent stake in Shopclues as opposed to the others who have a much lesser stake.

In his call for justice, Aggarwal is said to have filed three case of fraud and criminal defamation against Sethi and Ghai.

Ghai has the company’s backing, which Shopclues has expressed in a statement.

“It is very disappointing to see an ex-founder, who disassociated from the company for his criminal wrong doings, is now engaged in a personal vendetta on a public forum. “Our goal is to create value for all stakeholders and we remain focused on working closely with Radhika & Sanjay and the management team to continue to scale the company as it captures the massive opportunity which lies ahead of us,” Shopclues said.

Ghai, in her defence, has maintained that ShopClues was always a team effort.

"I am shocked by unfounded and baseless allegations being made. In the interest of privacy of my family I will not be commenting on any personal matters.” Ghai said in a statement. Sethi is yet to make a media statement.

Couplepreneurs getting into public spats is not new for India.

Last year, the Indian management consulting firm MuSigma, which was founded in 2004, witnessed a leadership tycoon after founders and couple Dhiraj Rajaram and Ambiga Subramanian went ahead with a divorce, and Rajaram took control of the company.

Rajaram bought Subramanian’s shares in the company, which was India’s only profitable unicorn at the time.