Jamie and Brian Ratner have more than a decade of experience building a business idea into a nationally-recognized brand. They've had plenty of great adventures along the way: They've appeared on Shark Tank, and — mid-pandemic — purchased Macaroni KID. That acquisition meant the Ratners suddenly found themselves working closely with 400 publishers from around the country who each run their own hyper-local Macaroni KID site.
The Ratners have learned so much along the way about how to navigate the entrepreneurial path as a couple that they decided to write a book about their experiences.
Their book, called ParentPreneurs: A Decade of Deals from a Messy Minivan comes out later this month and is available for order now. The foreword is written by Kevin O'Leary. The Ratners struck a deal with Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank.
To celebrate the upcoming book release of ParentPreneurs, Macaroni KID chatted with two sets of married Macaroni KID publishers — Kristin and Chris Kindred, who publish in Colorado, and Rickey and Missy Robertson, who publish in Louisiana — about their experience of working with their spouse, and what lessons they've learned along the way.
We also gave the publishers the opportunity to turn the tables and ask Brian and Jamie a question!
Rickey and Missy Robertson
Rickey and Missy Robertson had both used Macaroni KID professionally as a resource — Rickey is a teacher, while Missy works for a nonprofit that provides services for people with intellectual disabilities. When they heard Macaroni KID Monroe-West Monroe, La. was in search of a new publisher, they jumped at the opportunity to join the Macaroni KID team. They started publishing in January 2022.
What's your biggest challenge?
Missy: I think — and it’s a good issue to have in this kind of partnership — he is much more laid back and I tend to be a little more high-strung and look at numbers a lot. So we kind of balance each other out.
What advice would you give other couples starting an entrepreneurial journey together?
Missy: I would say to really understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and to know that there are going to be times that you will disagree. Just keep moving forward!
The Robertsons' question for Jamie and Brian:
Has one of you ever had a dream to move something to the next level, and the other one says, "nah, that’s not the right direction," or are you always totally in sync? If you have disagreed, how have you reached a resolution?
From Jamie and Brian:
The way we work is that Jamie generally has the ideas for what we should do or the vision for what is next. Brian then asks lots of questions and pushes her and our team to then do additional research, analysis, and due diligence. This often annoys them, as it delays quick and instinctive decisions! At that point, after we talk it through, we usually find consensus.
If we don’t, it’s more likely that Jamie will just park something and then come back to Brian later instead of insisting on doing it. Good examples of this and Jamie’s persistence are applying for Shark Tank and writing ParentPreneurs!
Kristin and Chris Kindred
Kristin Kindred publishes Macaroni KID Aurora with Chris Kindred's help. Now Chris has started publishing his own site, Macaroni KID Central Park-Commerce City-Northfield.
What have been some bumps along the road?
Chris: Time seems to be our biggest barrier, with three kids Cody, 17, Abbi, 12, and Madie, 5. We are nonstop busy with school, sports, and activities. We are learning that we are more successful when we block out time to work and collaborate.
What have been your most rewarding moments?
Kristin: The knowledge that we've grown the business together and have grown closer along the way. And dreaming of what's next is always fun!
The Kindreds' question for Jamie and Brian:
If you could go back and do it all over again, would you choose to work together? What would you change?
From Jamie and Brian:
Once you read the book, you’ll know that of course we would!
In hindsight, we’d have gotten more help with our kids and around the house in the early years. We pretended like we could just do it all and wanted to prove to ourselves that the business we were choosing to build didn’t need to be a personal sacrifice. This was naïve and led to us being much more stretched, stressed, and probably not at our best for much of the start-up period.
Macaroni KID is recruiting new publishers now!
Find out more about joining our amazing team at JoinMacaroniKID.com!