“I Sleep with my Business Partner” (LaurenK)

Company: Petplan Pet Insurance
Owners: Chris and Natasha Ashton
Headquarters: Philadelphia

Chris and Natasha had the idea for Petplan Pet Insurance about a decade ago when their one-year-old cat racked up a $5,000 vet bill. Turns out, quite a few pet owners were looking to defray costly veterinarian bills.

The company’s sales have grown more than 2,200% in the last three years, said Natasha. They have almost 50 employees, “though it is probably over 70 if you include the dogs and cats that come in” each day, she added.

Chris and Natasha’s offices are right next to each other, and they work together frequently. “I am invariably in Natasha’s office because she insists” that it be 20 degrees warmer than anywhere else, Chris jokes.

The upside to running a business with a spouse is that you know who you are dealing with, she said. “In this day and age, you read so many cases of businesses where the partners don’t get along and are constantly stabbing each other in the back,” said Natasha. “So to be working with someone who you know has your back is a big deal.”

The hardest part for the ultra-driven duo is time off. “This is more than just a business for us. This is our life. It really is. We eat, sleep, breathe it. It is everything,” said Natasha. “People think we are crazy: ‘You two must be nuts, you went to business school together and now you are running a business together!’ ”

The time spent away from their now 4-and-a-half-year-old son also is tough. “We have missed out of a great deal of the ‘firsts’ in Ben’s life,” said Natasha. “His first word was dog, closely followed by Petplan.”

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About internalmarket

This blog and its accompanying Twitter account have been established as social media learning tools for the Internal Communications and Employee Engagement class at Columbia College Chicago. Through this blog, we will share our observations about current events, change management and employee communications theory, and the application of social media in shaping employee engagement.
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