Power Couples: Arati Sharma and Satish Kanwar

By Aleah Balas

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In the Canadian tech world, Arati Sharma and Satish Kanwar are mainstays. Ex-Shopify executives, the couple have both dove head-first into venture capital. Collectively, the couple has invested in companies like Arrae, Sidia, Formula Fig, Ada, and 1Password via their firm, Good Future, as well as via Sharma’s involvement with Backbone Angels. With the couple’s prominence, they offer more than capital to their investments, adding their valuable connections and industry knowledge to the mix.


In the latest installment of Power Couples, Arati and Satish share how they have been so successful in building their lives together. 

Arati Sharma standing with her hair down and wearing a red sweater and dress. She is standing behind Satish Kanwar, who is sitting on a stool and dressed all in black.
Photo courtesy of Arati Sharma and Satish Kanwar

Can you share a bit about your personal and professional journeys?


Arati Sharma: We’re Arati Sharma and Satish Kanwar from Good Future. We’ve been together for 12 years, married for seven of them, and a fun family of three with our son for the last four, living in High Park, Toronto. We’ve been working together now for 15 years. First, in building a startup design studio Jet Cooper, which was acquired by Shopify, where we continued working closely for seven more years. Now, we get the chance to do so forever with our family office Good Future.


How did the idea of working together come about?


Arati Sharma: We first met at TEDxToronto in 2009 and instantly mind melded over what it meant to be in Toronto’s design and tech community. Jet Cooper was very early in its startup journey, and I felt like it was the right group of people for me to jump in and build with. 


In what ways do your skills and strengths complement each other?


Satish Kanwar: Arati and I both value the same things when it comes to our work and life projects. That makes it really easy for us to get aligned on the what and why, and we’ve spent our ten thousand hours together perfecting the how. Arati drives the vision, creative, and audience impact, and pushes us on quality. I focus on getting things organized and moving for us to execute fast.


What have you learned from the other from working together in a professional setting? 


Arati Sharma: The single most important ingredient we’ve found from working together in so many chapters and situations is that it’s critical to hold space for each other’s different viewpoints, conflicts, and interests. For example, being able to listen and not react, keep information siloed to different personal and professional contexts, and definitely not cross wires in future disagreements! All of that has helped us better understand ourselves and each other while building the right relationship tools for communication and trust.


Working together as a couple comes with a unique set of challenges and rewards. Can you share some of the highs and lows you’ve experienced in your professional journey together?


Satish Kanwar: The highs—we’ve spent collectively ten times more time together and seen more sides of each other than a couple that doesn’t work together, which has really expedited our bond and connection together. We’ve sat beside each other 12 hours a day for years on end, traveled for business together, spoken on stages together, and debated endlessly on opposite sides of the table over ideas, budgets, and people. So much so that many people over the years didn’t even know we were together.


Arati Sharma: The lows—in most relationships, you can go home and vent to your partner about your day, people at work, and different situations. When you work together, they have actual context about what you’re talking about and can be like a mirror against your biases and thinking. Sometimes you just can’t share exactly what you want to. We’ve gotten good at asking each other to put aside our context in those moments.

Black and white photo of Satish Kanwar and Arati Sharma. He is wearing a double breasted jacket with a white button up shirt. She is wearing a festive dress. They are both smiling and leaning against each other.
Photo courtesy of Arati Sharma and Satish Kanwar

How do you manage to integrate your work and personal lives while maintaining a healthy relationship?


Arati Sharmi: Boundaries. We know when we’re spending time together if it’s in a work context, if it’s as friends, or if it’s as husband and wife. Then if someone does start talking about a work thing, the other is quick to call it out now to usually say, “We’re not in the right headspace for this topic.”


Satish Kanwar: We’ve actually carried a lot of the same practices over to our close friends and family, too, given we also play a part in their companies or invest in projects together in the same industries. It’s crucial to keep these relationships positive, even when something isn’t going well at work.


How do you handle criticism or feedback from each other in a way that is constructive and supportive?


Arati Sharma: When you have the other person’s best interests at heart, feedback can be delivered with the right amount of love and compassion. That’s easier said than done, especially if we’re reacting from a tired space as young parents. We’ve learned to pause and find intentional time for these conversations, and we’re each on our own therapy and coaching journeys to be better. I know I can always go to Satish for honesty, even if it’s going to sting hearing it.


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How do you ensure that your individual goals align with the overall vision and goals of your business, especially when evaluating which companies you will invest in? 


Arati Sharma: Everything we do starts from a place of giving and service—it’s something that we instantly connected on when we first met. We’re very aligned on building and supporting the Canadian tech, business, and arts community, which has given us so much over these years. That alignment helps us form our investment thesis in Good Future, where we bet on mission-driven, diverse founders who we feel will have a positive sum impact on the future of the communities we care about.


For couples considering working together, what advice would you give to help them navigate the dynamics of a professional partnership while maintaining a strong personal relationship?


Satish Kanwar: We started our relationship as co-workers and friends, and that gave us a great baseline for how to do that well and distinctly from our personal relationship. At the end of the day, all of it has been predicated on our ability to keep a shared long-term vision, unwavering personal trust, and a lot of communication tools in our belt. If you’re on the same page and know how to find your way back to it in the peaks and valleys, you can do anything together.


Can you share a memorable achievement or success that you both have celebrated together in your professional journey?


Satish Kanwar: So many! We were both at the TSX for Shopify’s IPO bell-ringing celebration a decade ago, which was a special moment in Canadian business history. We also recently acquired BetaKit, the publication of record for Canadian tech, to help champion the long-term success of this ecosystem. That felt like a perfect alignment of our individual interests, passions, and skill sets.


What are your future plans and aspirations for working together?


Arati Sharma: We actually just finished our 2024 planning day, which is something really useful we borrowed from our careers into our lives and work. This year we’re doubling down on our own family office business, including Ghlee and BetaKit, and launching our philanthropic foundation under Good Future. Our aim is to always be creating value for the communities around us, whether through our ventures or giving.