The Myth Of Unique Startup Ideas

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The Myth Of Unique Startup Ideas

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Introduction

One of the first questions that you get when you tell anyone your startup ideas is “has anyone already done it.”

Usually the implication is, if someone has already done it, that you aren’t a “first mover,” your idea isn’t unique, and you are most likely doomed to fail. This discourages a lot of people. It shouldn’t.

In fact, the opposite is often true. If no one has tested out an idea, you are shooting in the dark. You need to build market awareness, test market demand, prove there is a viable business model, A/B test, determine popular content, figure out what websites to advertise on, test ad copy, figure out which backlinks are achievable, and learn from your own mistakes instead of others… all from scratch.

It’s also interesting that people tend to subject only startups to this way of thinking. No one usually tells someone opening a pizza shop that it’s a bad idea because there’s millions of pizza shops all over the country. No one tells a patent lawyer that he should probably close up shop because he didn’t invent the field of patent law.

Some Reasons Competition Is A Good Thing

  • 1. Your competitors prove that there is market demand, that people want your product
  • 2. Your competitors prove that there is a viable business model
  • 3. Your competitors create market awareness around your product offering
  • 4. Your competitors show you what works and what doesn’t, your competitors A/B test for you
  • 5. Your competitors test content for you, your competitors see what the market and media think is interesting in relation to your company
  • 6. Your competitors help you determine what websites to advertise on
  • 7. Your competitors test ad copy for you
  • 8. Your competitors show you what backlinks are achievable
  • 9. Your competitors help you learn from their mistakes

Read More About: Achieving Product Market-Fit

Conclusion

Often, when you actually examine a lot of the most successful startups, they weren’t actually the first movers. Facebook was not the first social network. Myspace and Friendster paved the way for their success. Google was not the first search engine. Yahoo and Alta Vista came before. It’s possible that if Google and Facebook were the first of their kind, that they wouldn’t have reached the heights of success that they did. If you are forced to figure out too many of the basics on the fly, it is difficult to focus on building unique advantages in product or execution.

The Top 50 Movies All Startup Founders Must Watch​

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The Top 50 Movies All Startup Founders Must Watch

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Introduction:

Here we rank (based on a combined metric of relevancy and Rotten Tomatoes score) the top 50 movies that all startup founders must watch along with a short clip from the movie, a description of the movie, and an explanation of why it’s a must-see for entrepreneurs.

Let us know in the comments your opinion of this list and if we missed one! Without further ado, let’s start with number 1 on the list.

1. The Social Network (2010)

What it’s about:

“The Social Network” explores the moment at which Facebook, the most revolutionary social phenomena of the new century, was invented — through the warring perspectives of the super-smart young men who each claimed to be there at its inception. The result is a drama rife with both creation and destruction; one that audaciously avoids a singular POV, but instead, by tracking dueling narratives, mirrors the clashing truths and constantly morphing social relationships that define our time. Drawn from multiple sources, the film captures the visceral thrill of the heady early days of a culture-changing phenomenon in the making — and the way it both pulled a group of young revolutionaries together and then split them apart.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

The social network rotten tomato score

Relevancy Score: 10

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: At the core, this is a relationship movie and a relationship movie about the relationship between founders at that. Sometimes relationships make or break startups more than the numbers or the product. Startups are made of people and the people part is very, very important.

Final Score: 98

2. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

What it’s about: David Mamet’s award-winning play about a group of desperate real estate agents comes to the big screen from director James Foley. In a role created specifically for the movie, Alec Baldwin appears as a sales motivator, informing the group of hard-luck salesmen that they must compete in a sales contest where the losers will be fired. The agents work their same tired leads, until one hatches a scheme to burglarize the office, steal the leads, and sell them to a rival. Featuring a cast that includes Al Pacino as the office’s sales leader, Jack Lemmon as an elderly loser, Alan Arkin and Ed Harris as frustrated salesmen, Kevin Spacey as the harassed office manager, and Jonathan Pryce as a client, Glengarry Glen Ross is, at its core, a character study about a group of men whose time has passed.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Glengarry glen ross rotten tomato score

Relevancy Score: 10

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Coffee is for closers! This is hands down the greatest sales movie ever created (and the most quoted). If you are in the startup game, you are in the sales game (you are selling yourself, selling your startup, selling a dream to your employees, etc.). This is a must watch.

Final Score: 97.5

3. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

What it’s about:

Alex Gibney, who wrote and produced Eugene Jarecki’s The Trials of Henry Kissinger, examines the rise and fall of an infamous corporate juggernaut in Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which he wrote and directed. The film, based on the book by Fortune Magazine reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, opens with a reenactment of the suicide of Enron executive Cliff Baxter, then travels back in time, describing Enron chairman Kenneth Lay’s humble beginnings as the son of a preacher, his ascent in the corporate world as an “apostle of deregulation,” his fortuitous friendship with the Bush family, and the development of his business strategies in natural gas futures. The film points out that the culture of financial malfeasance at Enron was evident as far back as 1987, when Lay apparently encouraged the outrageous risk taking and profit skimming of two oil traders in Enron’s Valhalla office because they were bringing a lot of money into the company. But it wasn’t until eventual CEO Jeff Skilling arrived at Enron that the company’s “aggressive accounting” philosophy truly took hold. The Smartest Guys in the Room explores the lengths to which the company went in order to appear incredibly profitable.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 9

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Enron was one of the most egregious and largest by the numbers cases of corporate corruption in history. How did it happen? How can it be prevented?

Final Score: 93.5

4. Steve Jobs (2015)

What it’s about:

Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 10

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Hands down the best movie about Jobs. A look inside the man and his relationships. There is a certain type of startup founder that fights into the coming waves instead of fighting against them. 99.99% of these founders end up looking ridiculous (and broke), the others end up visionaries (and billionaires).

Final Score: 93

5. The Big Short (2015)

What it’s about: Writer/director Adam McKay joins forces with Paramount Pictures and Plan B Entertainment to adapt Michael Lewis’ best-seller The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, which centers on the housing a credit bubble of the 2000s.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

The Big Short Rating

Relevancy Score: 9

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: It was all fun and games until the world economy came crashing down. How did that happen? How can complexity and greed bring such a huge system crashing down. How can you avoid the same within your own organization? What’s your plan if the economy comes crashing down again? Definitely watch if you are in fintech.

Final Score: 89

6. Moneyball (2011)

What it’s about:

Based on a true story, Moneyball is a movie for anybody who has ever dreamed of taking on the system. Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s and the guy who assembles the team, who has an epiphany: all of baseball’s conventional wisdom is wrong. Forced to reinvent his team on a tight budget, Beane will have to outsmart the richer clubs. The onetime jock teams with Ivy League grad Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) in an unlikely partnership, recruiting bargain players that the scouts call flawed, but all of whom have an ability to get on base, score runs, and win games. It’s more than baseball, it’s a revolution – one that challenges old school traditions and puts Beane in the crosshairs of those who say he’s tearing out the heart and soul of the game.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Moneyball Tomato Rating

Relevancy Score: 8

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: One coach thought really, really hard about baseball and then, using statistics, changed the game. The same happened on Wall Street, the same will probably happen in your niche. What data could you be using to change your game, whatever it is? Definitely watch if you are in the sports industry.

Final Score: 87

7. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019

What it’s about:

An exclusive behind the scenes look at the infamous unraveling of the Fyre music festival. Created by Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, Fyre was promoted as a luxury music festival on a private island in the Bahamas featuring bikini-clad supermodels, A-List musical performances and posh amenities. Guests arrived to discover the reality was far from the promises.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 8

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Idiots committing fraud. Idiots raising huge, huge amounts of money. How did they raise so much money in the first place? What’s stopping me from raising that much money? Definitely watch if you are in the festival or music industry.

Final Score: 85.5

8. Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)

What it’s about:

This tech-world biopic traces the fortunes of personal-computer companies Apple and Microsoft from their obscure dorm-room and backyard origins to their very public battle for corporate supremacy. Writer/director Martyn Burke follows the parallel lives of Microsoft founder Bill Gates (Anthony Michael Hall) and Apple co-founders Steve Jobs (Noah Wyle) and Steve Wozniak (Joey Slotnick) — the former a crafty Harvard dropout, the latter a pair of hippies with jobs at Hewlett-Packard and a yen to sell miniature versions of corporate mainframes to small businesses and at-home enthusiasts. Much like the personal-computer industry itself, the action starts with Apple then gradually shifts to Microsoft. The former plot thread recounts how Jobs and Wozniak “borrowed” key concepts from a Xerox computer lab, eked out their success as countercultural businessmen, and finally fell out with one another over the pressure of success. The latter thread focuses on the way Gates learned from, then surpassed, the brains behind Apple and turned his company into the global powerhouse that it is today. Based on Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine’s Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer, the film actually focuses only on that book’s final chapters. Produced for cable channel TNT, Pirates of Silicon Valley debuted June 18, 1999.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

pirates of silicon valley tomato rating

Relevancy Score: 8

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Take a look back into the past at our predecessors. See their clever scheming and jockeying for power. I guess some things never change.

Final Score: 85

9. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012)

What it’s about:

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3 star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.At the heart of this story is Jiro’s relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 7

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Jiro is a perfectionist and a relentless adherer to process. Jiro is also a life long learner and innovator in his world (Sushi). Definitely watch if you are in the restaurant or hospitality industry.

Final Score: 84.5

10. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019)

What it’s about:

With a magical new invention that promised to revolutionize blood testing, Elizabeth Holmes became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, heralded as the next Steve Jobs. Then, overnight, her $10-billion-dollar company dissolved. The rise and fall of Theranos is a window into the psychology of fraud.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 9

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Elizabeth Holmes once hailed as the greatest female entrepreneurs of all time is now facing prison time. What was her story and how did she do it? How did she fall? Definitely watch if you are in the biotech or health industries.

Final Score: 83.5

11. Margin Call (2011)

What it’s about: Set in the high-stakes world of the financial industry, Margin Call is an entangling thriller involving the key players at an investment firm during one perilous 24-hour period in the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. When an entry-level analyst unlocks information that could prove to be the downfall of the firm, a roller-coaster ride ensues as decisions both financial and moral catapult the lives of all involved to the brink of disaster. Writer/director J.C. Chandor’s enthralling first feature is a stark and bravely authentic portrayal of the financial industry and its denizens as they confront the decisions that shape our global future.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 

Margin Call Rotten Tomato Rating

Relevancy Score: 8

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It:

Another take on the 2008 financial crisis. This one takes a more somber tone. Great watch for the power dynamics at play within the firm as well as the greater economic lessons. Definitely watch if you are in fintech.

Final Score: 83.5

12. The American Meme (2018)

What it’s about:

With support from social media moguls DJ Khaled, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski, THE AMERICAN MEME explores the journeys of four distinct social media disruptors, Paris Hilton, Josh Ostrovsky (@TheFatJewish), Brittany Furlan & Kirill Bichutsky (@slutwhisperer), as they hustle to build empires out of their online footprints, redefining the paradigm for the American Dream.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

The American Meme Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 7

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Social media is a huge force and people have built entire businesses off of it. What do their lives look like and how did they do it? What drives social media traffic and how can it be harnessed? Definitely watch if you are in the social media industry.

Final Score: 82

13. Ex Machina (2015)

What it’s about:

Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, makes his directorial debut with the stylish and cerebral thriller, EX MACHINA. Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at an internet-search giant, wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain estate of the company’s brilliant and reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon his arrival, Caleb learns that Nathan has chosen him to be the human component in a Turing Test-charging him with evaluating the capabilities, and ultimately the consciousness, of Nathan’s latest experiment in artificial intelligence. That experiment is Ava (Alicia Vikander), a breathtaking A.I. whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated–and more deceptive–than the two men could have imagined.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 7

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A great and realistic portrayal of what a potential human or suprahuman AI may look like and come to be. Definitely watch if you are in the IoT industry or work with machine learning.

Final Score: 81

14. The Martian (2015)

What it’s about:

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return. Based on a best-selling novel, and helmed by master director Ridley Scott, THE MARTIAN features a star studded cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 7

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Startup founders are masters of doing a lot with a little. But we are no comparison to astronaut Mark Watney. This is what is called “Extreme Bootstrapping.” Definitely watch if you are in the space travel or aeronautical industries.

Final Score: 80.5

15. The Founder (2017)

What it’s about:

Directed by John Lee Hancock (SAVING MR. BANKS), THE FOUNDER features the true story of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a struggling salesman from Illinois, met Mac and Dick McDonald, who were running a burger operation in 1950s Southern California. Kroc was impressed by the brothers’ speedy system of making the food and saw franchise potential. Writer Robert Siegel (THE WRESTLER) details how Kroc maneuvered himself into a position to be able to pull the company from the brothers and create a billion-dollar empire. The film also stars Laura Dern as Ray Kroc’s first wife Ethel; John Carroll Lynch as Mac McDonald and Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

The Founder Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 8

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: McDonalds, the billion dollar giant and the face of the fast food industry. How was it built? Definitely watch if you are in the food or restaurant industries.

Final Score: 80.5

16. Citizen Kane (1941)

What it’s about:

Following the death of publishing tycoon, Charles Foster Kane, reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of his final utterance; ‘Rosebud’.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A classic about legacy and building, and leaving behind, empires. An older movie but a must watch. Definitely watch if you are in the media or news industry.

Final Score: 80

17. Wall Street (1987)

What it’s about:

“Greed is Good.” This is the credo of the aptly named Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), the antihero of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. Gekko, a high-rolling corporate raider, is idolized by young-and-hungry broker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen). Inveigling himself into Gekko’s inner circle, Fox quickly learns to rape, murder and bury his sense of ethics. Only when Gekko’s wheeling and dealing causes a near-tragedy on a personal level does Fox “reform”-though his means of destroying Gekko are every bit as underhanded as his previous activities on the trading floor. Director Stone, who cowrote Wall Street with Stanley Weiser, has claimed that the film was prompted by the callous treatment afforded his stockbroker father after 50 years in the business; this may be why the film’s most compelling scenes are those between Bud Fox and his airline mechanic father (played by Charlie Sheen’s real-life dad Martin). Ironically, Wall Street was released just before the October, 1987 stock market crash.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 8

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Wall Street captures an era and an ethos of a money making machine. A great expose on greed and capitalism. Definitely watch if you are in fintech.

Final Score: 79

18. The Godfather (1972)

What it’s about:

Popularly viewed as one of the best American films ever made, the multi-generational crime saga The Godfather is a touchstone of cinema: one of the most widely imitated, quoted, and lampooned movies of all time. Marlon Brando and Al Pacino star as Vito Corleone and his youngest son, Michael, respectively. It is the late 1940s in New York and Corleone is, in the parlance of organized crime, a “godfather” or “don,” the head of a Mafia family. Michael, a free thinker who defied his father by enlisting in the Marines to fight in World War II, has returned a captain and a war hero. Having long ago rejected the family business, Michael shows up at the wedding of his sister, Connie (Talia Shire), with his non-Italian girlfriend, Kay (Diane Keaton), who learns for the first time about the family “business.” Nominated for 11 Academy Awards and winning for Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando), and Best Adapted Screenplay, The Godfather was followed by a pair of sequels.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: An absolute classic. If you like the firs one, watch the rest in the series. What makes people hold “power” in an organization. How do they keep “power.” What happens in an organization when its hierarchy is disrupted?

Final Score: 79

19. Spotlight (2015)

What it’s about:

SPOTLIGHT tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. Directed by Academy Award-nominee Tom McCarthy, SPOTLIGHT is a tense investigative dramatic-thriller, tracing the steps to one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Spotlight Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: What does deep, deeply rooted corruption in an organization look like? How is it rooted out? Watch one man unravel an organization of people who often have convinced themselves to look the other way. Definitely watch if you are in the media or news industry.

Final Score: 78.5

20. King Corn (2007)

What it’s about:

Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat–and how we farm.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

king corn rotten tomato score

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: I hate to break it to you, but you are mostly made of corn. Definitely watch if you are in the farming, packaging, or food industries.

Final Score: 78

21. Food, Inc. (2009)

What it’s about:

In “Food, Inc.,” filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of e coli–the harmful bacteria that cause illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farms’ Gary Hirschberg and Polyface Farms’ Joe Salatin, “Food, Inc.” reveals surprising–and often shocking truths–about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Food is an industry, a big one at that. Definitely watch if you are in the farming, packaging, or food industries.

Final Score: 77.5

22. Her (2013)

What it’s about:

Spike Jonze takes the helm for this comedy about a withdrawn writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer’s highly advanced operating system.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Her Tomato Rating

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: As AI and “smart homes” become more and more prominent, where is this industry going? You will never look at Alexa the same… Definitely watch if you are in the IoT space.

Final Score: 77

23. Gattaca (1997)

What it’s about:

In a futuristic society where commerce has overridden more humanistic concerns, the rich and successful, eager to obtain physical and mental perfection, have taken to genetically engineering their off-spring. Such lab-created babies are known as Valids, while those conceived in the normal, loving fashion are In-Valids and are considered second-class citizens at best — especially if they have birth defects. Vincent (Ethan Hawke) is an In-Valid while his brother Anton (Loren Dean) is a Valid. The former brother is short, sickly, and bespectacled, while the latter brother is handsome, healthy and born to succeed. But though Anton seems close to perfection, he lacks the emotional flaws, passion, determination, desire and faith that motivate Vincent, whose strongest desire is to become a space navigator for the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation and travel on an upcoming mission to the moons of Saturn. Unfortunately, his birth status and a heart defect, relegate him to menial jobs. Unwilling to abandon hope, Vincent determinedly visits DNA broker German (Tony Shalhoub) who is able to create false identities for similar In-Valids. Set in an oppressive, bureaucratic and chillingly plausible early-21st-century world, Andrew Niccol’s sci-fi thriller differs from others in its focus on a morally ambiguous world and on characters rather than gizmos, technobabble and special effects.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Gattaca Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 7

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Still holds up as the greatest biotech and genetic engineering movies of all time. Startlingly ahead of its time, definitely watch if you are in either of those industries.

Final Score: 76.5

24. Network (1976)

What it’s about:

When anchorman Howard Beale is forced to retire his 25-year post because of his age, he announces to his viewers that he’s going to commit suicide on his final program. When his announcement looks like it will improve the ratings, the entire event is turned into a garish entertainment spectacle.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Network Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: One of the most overlooked movies of all time. What could be happening in the media that’s not? This movie was way, way ahead of its time. Definitely watch if you are in the media or news industry.

Final Score: 76

25. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

What it’s about: Martin Scorsese directs the story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort. From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late 80s. Excess success and affluence in his early twenties as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Critic Concensus

Relevancy Score: 7

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: We’re making money baby! Jordan Belfort, one of the greatest swindlers of modern times. How did this man build an empire off of garbage. Sometimes a great product is not what it takes to IPO. Definitely watch if you are in fintech.

Final Score: 74.5

26. Boiler Room (2000)

What it’s about:

In this drama that explores greed and corruption in American business, Giovanni Ribisi plays Seth Davis, an intelligent and ambitious college dropout who runs a casino in his apartment. Eager to show his father that he can succeed, Seth lands a job with a small stock brokerage firm. He is given a space in the company’s “boiler room,” where he makes cold calls to prospective clients. As it turns out, Seth has a genuine talent for cold calling, which gains him the approval of his superiors, the admiration of his father, and the attentions of one of his co-workers, Abby Hilliard (Nia Long). However, the higher up the ladder Seth rises, the deeper he sinks into a quagmire of dirty dealings, until he’s breaking the law in order to keep his bosses happy and his paychecks coming. The Boiler Room also features Tom Everett Scott, Scott Caan, Jamie Kennedy, Nicky Katt, and Ben Affleck in a cameo as the headhunter who brings Seth into the firm. Ribisi and Scott also appeared together in That Thing You Do; Ribisi was the drummer replaced by Scott, who then led The One-Ders to fictional pop stardom.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Boiler Room Tomatometer

Relevancy Score: 8

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Stocks, cold calling, dirty dealings. Wall street has a lot in common with the startup world. Another movie about greed on Wall Street. Definitely watch if you are in fintech.

Final Score: 73

27. Freakonomics (2010)

What it’s about:

FREAKONOMICS is the highly anticipated film version of the phenomenally bestselling book about incentives-based thinking by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Like the book, the film examines human behavior with provocative and sometimes hilarious case studies, bringing together a dream team of filmmakers responsible for some of the most acclaimed and entertaining documentaries in recent years: Academy Award (R) winner Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Casino Jack and the United States of Money), Academy Award (R) nominees Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp), Academy Award (R) nominee Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) and Seth Gordon (The King of Kong).

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

freakonomics rotten tomato score

Relevancy Score: 8

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A great introduction to Freakonomics, one of the best resources to learn lessons on the economy and human behavior. If you like the movie, also check out their podcasts and books.

Final Score: 73

28. Goodfellas (1990)

What it’s about:

Martin Scorsese explores the life of organized crime with his gritty, kinetic adaptation of Nicolas Pileggi’s best-selling Wiseguy, the true-life account of mobster and FBI informant Henry Hill. Set to a true-to-period rock soundtrack, the story details the rise and fall of Hill, a half-Irish, half-Sicilian New York kid who grows up idolizing the “wise guys” in his impoverished Brooklyn neighborhood. He begins hanging around the mobsters, running errands and doing odd jobs until he gains the notice of local chieftain Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino), who takes him in as a surrogate son. As he reaches his teens, Hill (Ray Liotta) is inducted into the world of petty crime, where he distinguishes himself as a “stand-up guy” by choosing jail time over ratting on his accomplices. From that moment on, he is a part of the family. Along with his psychotic partner Tommy (Joe Pesci), he rises through the ranks to become Paulie’s lieutenant; however, he quickly learns that, like his mentor Jimmy (Robert DeNiro), his ethnicity prevents him from ever becoming a “made guy,” an actual member of the crime family. Soon he finds himself the target of both the feds and the mobsters, who feel that he has become a threat to their security with his reckless dealings. Goodfellas was rewarded with six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture; Pesci would walk away with Best Supporting Actor for his work.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Goodfellas Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Another great gangster movie. Watch for the power dynamics and organizational lessons.

Final Score: 73

29. Gravity (2013)

What it’s about:

Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space. Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone – tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Another great movie about doing a lot with a little. Definitely watch if you are in the space travel or aeronautical industries.

Final Score: 73

30. Nightcrawler (2014)

What it’s about:

NIGHTCRAWLER is a pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling — where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou thrives. In the breakneck, ceaseless search for footage, he becomes the star of his own story.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Nightcrawler Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: What are people morbidly fascinated with and how does this turn into a business? How does interest drive revenue? What happens when you begin to rely on one employee whose motives are questionable at best… Definitely watch if you are in the media or news industry.

Final Score: 72.5

31. The Queen of Versailles (2012)

What it’s about:

The Queen of Versailles is a character-driven documentary about a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis. With epic proportions of Shakespearean tragedy, the film follows two unique characters, whose rags-to-riches success stories reveal the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream. The film begins with the family triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America, a 90,000 sq. ft. palace. Over the next two years, their sprawling empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis. Major changes in lifestyle and character ensue within the cross-cultural household of family members and domestic staff.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A great treatise on wealth and losing wealth. This one is a documentary so you get a real peak into the life of a super wealthy family. These people may look like your clients or maybe even a future you. Be careful.

Final Score: 72.5

32. The Kingmaker (2019)

What it’s about:

Centered on the indomitable character of Imelda Marcos, The Kingmaker examines, with intimate access, the Marcos family’s improbable return to power in the Philippines. The film explores the disturbing legacy of the Marcos regime and chronicles Imelda’s present-day push to help her son, Bongbong, win the vice-presidency. To this end, Imelda confidently rewrites her family’s history of corruption, replacing it with a narrative of a matriarch’s extravagant love for her country. In an age when fake news manipulates elections, Imelda’s comeback story serves as a dark fairy tale.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

The Kingmaker Rotten Tomato Rating

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: How does news and social media influence the politics of a nation? How can news and social media be manipulated to change the story of a dynasty? What does real power look like? Definitely watch if you are in the news or media industry.

Final Score: 71.5

33. Jerry Maguire (1996)

What it’s about:

Jerry Maguire is a man who knows the score. As a top agent at Sports Management International, Jerry is unquestionably a master of his universe. Trouble is — Jerry’s mind, mouth and soul are usually on automatic pilot. He’s good at friendship, but (as his numerous ex-girlfriends testify) bad at intimacy. Still, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Jerry that a sudden dose of failure can’t cure. A week after spontaneously writing a stirring, visionary mission statement for SMI entitled ‘The Things We Think And Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business,’ he’s unceremoniously fired. Stripped of his job and a good measure of his identity, the tenacious but hanging-by-a-thread Jerry is forced to start from scratch. He’s joined on his journey to redemption by two unlikely allies: Rod Tidwell, a second-tier wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals; and Dorothy Boyd, a wistful 26-year-old single mother who departs her accountancy position with SMI for a very uncertain future with her new boss.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A rise and fall story about leveraging what you have and humility. Definitely watch if you are in the media, entertainment, or sports industries.

Final Score: 71.5

34. American Hustle (2013)

What it’s about:

A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films, American Hustle defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

American Hustle Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A very strong con movie. Like many con movies, has a lot of lessons about controlling appearances and controlling behavior for the purposes of persuasion. If you are a startup founder you are going to need a lot of persuasion

Final Score: 71

35. Molly’s Game (2018)

What it’s about:

MOLLY’S GAME is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned that there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led us to believe.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Molly's Game Rotten Tomato

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A story about building an unlikely business as an outsider. A story about crafting environments for your customers. Definitely watch if you are in the gambling industry.

Final Score: 71

36. The Disaster Artist (2017)

What it’s about:

The real life story of writer/director Tommy Wiseau, the man behind what is often referred to as “The Citizen Kane of Bad Movies,” The Room, is brought to life, chronicling the odd film’s troubled development and eventual cult success.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: How do disasters and failure happen? Why don’t people see it coming? What do the relationships of the people involved look like? Definitely see if you are in the entertainment industry.

Final Score: 70.5

37. Office Space (1999)

What it’s about:

Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a computer programmer working for Initech in Houston. Every day, he and his friends Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael Bolton (David Herman as not THAT Michael Bolton), suffer endless indignities and humiliations in their soulless workspace from their soulless boss, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole). For Peter, stuck in his cookie-cutter apartment with paper-thin walls and IKEA furniture, every day is worse than the one before it — so every day is the worst of his life. To cap it off, Initech has hired a pair of “efficiency experts” to downsize the company. One Friday night, Peter’s soon to be ex-girlfriend Anne (Alexandra Wentworth) forces him to go to an occupational hypnotherapist to relieve work stress.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A comedy about the drudgery of office life and escaping it. Hilariously quotable and will ring true with a lot of founders who escaped just the kind of monotony depicted.

Final Score: 70

38. Moon (2009)

What it’s about:

An astronaut miner extracting the precious moon gas that promises to reverse the Earth’s energy crisis nears the end of his three-year contract, and makes an ominous discovery in this psychological sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey. For three long years, Sam Bell has dutifully harvested Helium 3 for Lunar, a company that claims it holds the key to solving humankind’s energy crisis. As Sam’s contract comes to an end, the lonely astronaut looks forward to returning to his wife and daughter down on Earth, where he will retire early and attempt to make up for lost time. His work on the Selene moon base has been enlightening — the solitude helping him to reflect on the past and overcome some serious anger issues — but the isolation is starting to make Sam uneasy. With only two weeks to go before he begins his journey back to Earth, Sam starts feeling strange: he’s having inexplicable visions, and hearing impossible sounds. Then, when a routine extraction goes horribly awry, it becomes apparent that Lunar hasn’t been entirely straightforward with Sam about their plans for replacing him. The new recruit seems strangely familiar, and before Sam returns to Earth, he will grapple with the realization that the life he has created may not be entirely his own. Up there, hundreds of thousands of miles from home, it appears that Sam’s contract isn’t the only thing about to expire.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Moon Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: What are the corporate and human resources of space travel? What resources are out there and how are we going to extract them? Definitely watch if you are in the space travel or resource extraction industries.

Final Score: 70

39. Becoming Warren Buffet (2017)

What it’s about:

A profile of Warren Buffett, CEO of the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, includes a look at his career as an investor and a philanthropist, and recollections of his personal and professional lives while speaking to high-school students in his native Omaha.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 7

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Warren Buffet produced disproportionate results with what he had. Very, very disproportionate results. What makes the man tick? Definitely watch if you are in fintech.

Final Score: 70

40. Blackfish (2013)

What it’s about:

Magnolia Pictures invites you and a guest to attend an advance screening of BLACKFISH, an eye-opening documentary directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000-pound orcas, or “killer whales,” soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet, in our contemporary lore this mighty black-and-white mammal is like a two-faced Janus-beloved as a majestic, friendly giant yet infamous for its capacity to kill viciously. BLACKFISH unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who-unlike any orca in the wild-has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what exactly went wrong? Shocking, never-before-seen footage and riveting interviews with trainers and experts manifest the orca’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity over the last four decades, and the growing disillusionment of workers who were misled and endangered by the highly profitable sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 4

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A great movie on how we treat animals and animals in captivity. Definitely watch if you are in the pets or animal care industry.

Final Score: 69

41. The Master (2012)

What it’s about:

A striking portrait of drifters and seekers in post World War II America, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master unfolds the journey of a Naval veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future – until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

The Master Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: How is your cult going? If you are running a startup you have more in common with cult founders than you might think. Watch a master of mass persuasion at the height of his craft.

Final Score: 67.5

42. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1997)

What it’s about:

After the Oscar-winning The English Patient, writer/director Anthony Minghella attempted another tricky literary adaptation with The Talented Mr. Ripley, which features heartthrob Matt Damon cast against type as a psychopathic bisexual murderer. Tom Ripley (Damon) is a bright and charismatic sociopath who makes his way in mid-’50s New York City as a men’s room attendant and sometimes pianist, though his real skill is in impersonating other people, forging handwriting, and running second-rate scams. After being mistaken for a Princeton student, Tom meets the shipping tycoon father of Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), who has traveled to the coast of Italy, where he’s living a carefree life with his father’s money and his beautiful girlfriend, Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow). Dickie’s father will pay Ripley 1,000 dollars plus his expenses if he can persuade Dickie to return to America. As Ripley and Dickie become friends, Tom finds himself both attracted to Dickie and envious of his life of pleasure. In time, he decides that he would rather be Dickie Greenleaf than Tom Ripley, so rather than go back to his life of poverty, Ripley impulsively murders Dickie and assumes his identity. The Talented Mr. Ripley was based on the first of a series of novels featuring Tom Ripley written by Patricia Highsmith; the story was previously filmed in 1960 as Purple Noon, with Alain Delon as Ripley.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

the talented my ripley rotten tomato rating

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: Another treatise on persuasion and appearances. Sometimes the devil has glasses and a funny haircut.

Final Score: 66.5

43. Phantom Thread (2018)

What it’s about:

Set in the glamour of 1950’s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love. With his latest film, Paul Thomas Anderson paints an illuminating portrait both of an artist on a creative journey, and the women who keep his world running. Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s eighth movie, and his second collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

phantom thread rotten tomato score

Relevancy Score: 4

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A look into the alluring world of fashion and a character study on obsession. Definitely watch if you are in the clothing or fashion industries.

Final Score: 65.5

44. Capote (2005)

What it’s about:

On assignment to write an article for ‘The New Yorker,’ Truman Capote traveled to a small Kansas town, where he began to investigate and report on the gruesome murder of a local family. At first leery of the writer, the townsfolk come to trust Capote and allow him into their lives, giving him his story.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Capote Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 4

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A character study on a man whose personality was so strange and so powerful he is hard to forget. Watch for the flawless acting alone. Definitely watch if you are in the media or entertainment industry.

Final Score: 65

45. Casino (1995)

What it’s about:

The inner-workings of a corrupt Las Vegas casino are exposed in Martin Scorsese’s story of crime and punishment. The film chronicles the lives and times of three characters: “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), a bookmaking wizard; Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), a Mafia underboss and longtime best friend to Ace; and Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone, in a role she was born to play), a leggy ex-prostitute with a fondness for jewelry and a penchant for playing the field. Ace plays by the rules (albeit Vegas rules, which, as he reminds the audience in voiceover, would make him a criminal in any other state), while Nicky and Ginger lie, cheat, and steal their respective ways to the top. The film’s first hour and a half details their rise to power, while the second half follows their downfall as the FBI, corrupt government officials, and angry mob bosses pick apart their Camelot piece by piece.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 5

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: The most underrated gangster movie ever made. Hilarious and engaging, every character’s actions lead them on forever intertwining collision courses. Another movie about empire building and rise and falls. Definitely watch if you are in the gambling industry.

Final Score: 65

46. Existenz (1999)

What it’s about:

Set in the near-future, eXistenZ depicts a society in which game designers are worshipped as superstars and players can organically enter inside the games. At the center of the story is Allegra Geller whose latest games system eXistenZ taps so deeply into its users fears and desires that it blurs the boundaries between reality and escapism. When fanatics attempt to assassinate Allegra, she is forced to flee. Her sole ally is Ted Pikul (Law), a novice security guard who is sworn to protect her. Persuading Ted into playing the game, Allegra draws them both into a phantasmagoric world where existence ends and eXistenZ begins.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Existenz Rotten Tomato

Relevancy Score: 6

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A great sci fi movie about virtual reality and biotechnology. Definitely watch if you are in one of those two industries.

Final Score: 62

47. Magnolia (1999)

What it’s about:

An intriguing and entertaining study in characters going through varying levels of crisis and introspection. This psychological drama leads you in several different directions, weaving and intersecting various subplots and characters, from a brilliant Tom Cruise, as a self-proclaimed pied-piper, to a child forced to go on a TV game show and the pressures he faces from a ruthless father.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Relevancy Score: 4

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A great character study about what makes people tick. Look into the lives of different people and see why the ended up who they are doing what they are doing. Definitely watch if you are in any industry having to do with public speaking or often have to present.

Final Score: 61.5

48. Up in the Air (2009)

What it’s about:

Ryan Bingham, a corporate hatchet man who loves his life on the road, is forced to fight for his job when his company downsizes its travel budget. He is required to spend more time at home just as he is on the cusp of a goal he’s worked toward for years: reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he’s met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Up in the Air Tomato Rating

Relevancy Score: 7

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A good movie about routine. Forming routine, escaping routine, questioning routine. Some other good business lessons sprinkled in as well.

Final Score: 61

49. Pi (1998)

What it’s about:

God and man and math: The tawdry meets the Talmudic in this complex thriller about a tortured computer genius trying to beat the stock market.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Pi Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 3

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: A movie about math and mental health. What secrets do numbers hold?

Final Score: 59

50. Primer (2004)

What it’s about:

The debut feature from filmmaker Shane Carruth — who wrote, directed, photographed, edited, scored, and stars — Primer is a psychological sci-fi thriller about a group of four tech entrepreneurs. Toiling away in a garage, the quartet have successfully created error-checking systems for their clients. But their recent work seems to have created an unexpected and seemingly impossible side-effect. Suddenly, two members of the group realize they are in possession of a device that can double, or perhaps even quadruple, the space-time continuum of anything that enters it. What at first seems like a windfall of astronomical proportions eventually proves to be much more than they bargained for, as the duo attempt to manipulate time to their financial — and emotional — benefit. Also starring Casey Gooden, Anand Upadhyaya, and Carrie Crawford, Primer premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the coveted Grand Jury Prize for dramatic film.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Primer Rotten Tomato Score

Relevancy Score: 4

Why Startup Founders Should Watch It: It is crazy what four guys in a garage can build. This movie is that idea taken to the extreme.

Final Score: 56.5

Think a Movie is missing? Comment it below.

The Only Chart You Will Ever Need For Brain Health

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The Only Chart You Will Ever Need For Brain Health

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Factors Influencing Brain Health, An Interactive Chart:

Diet

Evidence Strength of Evidence
Mediterranean Diet 1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/can-you-eat-your-way-to-brain-health
2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2016.00022/full
3. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/87446
Very Strong
Caloric Restriction 1. https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/8/6/804/4772193 Moderate

Exercise

Evidence Strength of Evidence
Aerobic Exercise 1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-kinds-of-exercise-are-good-for-brain-health-2018050213762
2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110
3. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/10/how-exercise-beefs-brain
Very Strong
Walking 1. https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/08/27/walking-is-good-brain-exercise/17326.html
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2947936/
3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110
Strong
Yoga 1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-kinds-of-exercise-are-good-for-brain-health-2018050213762 Strong
Exercising Outdoors 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21291246
2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204615000286
Strong
Weight Training 1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-kinds-of-exercise-are-good-for-brain-health-2018050213762 Strong

Behavior

Evidence Strength of Evidence
Minimum 8 Hours of Sleep 1. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-sleep-clears-brain
2. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2007/03/sleep-found-to-repair-and-reorganize-the-brain/
3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101113165441.htm
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1748194/
5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health
Very Strong
Social Interaction 1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/active-social-life-delay-memory-loss-us-elderly/
2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071029172856.htm
Very Strong
Learn a New Language 1. https://www.medicaldaily.com/bilingual-benefits-how-learning-another-language-keeps-your-mind-sharp-no-matter-your-310308
2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110222162304.htm
3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S002209651200166X
Strong
Meditation 1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1053810010000681
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21417807
3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1053811909000044
Strong
Learn to Play an Instrument 1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060920093024.htm Moderate
Learn a Hobby 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17623380 Moderate

Avoid

Evidence Strength of Evidence
Smoking 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1568603/
2. https://spotlight.kaiserpermanente.org/heavy-smoking-doubles-risk-of-alzheimers-or-vascular-dementia/
Very Strong
Obesity 1. https://www.uclahealth.org/u-magazine/more-obesity-blues Very Strong
Stress 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1393587 Very Strong
Carbon Monoxide 1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/carbon-monoxide-poisoning-a-to-z Very Strong
Heavy Metals 1. http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2016/deadly-biology-lead-exposure/
2. https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2004/05/mercury-on-the-brain.html
Very Strong
Repetitive Brain Trauma 1. http://pnl.bwh.harvard.edu/education/what-is/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy/ Very Strong
Alcohol 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22906480
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5460585/
Strong
Dehydration 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22855911 Strong
Sleep Apnea 1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201091638.htm Strong
Trans fat 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4470692/ 
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12728744
Moderate
Sugar 1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prime-your-gray-cells/201110/why-sugar-high-leads-brain-low
2. https://pubsapp.acs.org/cen/science/87/8720sci1.html
Moderate
Mold Spores 1. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/mold-may-mean-bad-news-brain Moderate
Blue Light 1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side Very Weak

Supplements

Evidence Strength of Evidence
Omega-3 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3792211/
2. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~rswenson/NeuroSci/chapter_11.html
3. https://www.latimes.com/health/la-xpm-2012-oct-30-la-heb-omega3-fish-oil-benefits-memory-20121030-story.html
4. https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/8/6/804/4772193
Very Strong
Creatine 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29704637
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691485/
Strong
Caffeine 1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/caffeine-healthy-diet-may-boost-memory-thinking-skills-alcohols-effect-uncertain-201406187219
2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x
Strong
Multi-vitamin 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21775560
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22939764
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22711385
Moderate
Vitamin D 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6132681/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22536767
Moderate
Blueberry Polyphenols 1. https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/8/6/804/4772193
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Modulation+of+hippocampal+plasticity+and+cognitive+behavior+by+short-term+blueberry+supplementation+in+aged+rats
Weak
Sulforaphane 1. https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/8/6/804/4772193 Weak
Salvianolic Acid 1. https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/8/6/804/4772193 Weak
Flavonoids 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23723987
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Modulation+of+hippocampal+plasticity+and+cognitive+behavior+by+short-term+blueberry+supplementation+in+aged+rats
Weak
Melatonin 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3568494/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24650119
Very Weak

Why I Hate NPS With a Passion

0

Why I Hate NPS With a Passion

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The Tale of Two Products

After purchasing a product on an online e-commerce store, customers are asked the typical NPS survey question “On a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend [product name] to your friends, family or business associates?” for two different products.

Product A Customer Ratings: [6,6,6,6,6,6,6,6,10,10] (Average Customer Rating 6.8)

Product B Customer Ratings: [0,0,0,0,9] (Average Customer Rating 1.8)

Their ratings are listed above. Look at the two data sets. Consider carefully. Which product do you think has a higher NPS (Net Promoter Score).

The answer is their NPS is exactly the same.

Wait that’s unbelievable… the first product has an average customer rating of 6.8/10 while the second has an average customer rating of 1.8/10. How is that possible?

Spray Cans
Pictured: Product A and Product B

What is NPS?

Welcome to the wonderful world of NPS, one of the most misguided scoring calculations ever invented.

Before we start, what is NPS (Net Promoter Score) and how is it calculated?

Net Promoter Score

Take your data set of ratings between 0-10. Divide these ratings into three groups. Anyone with a rating of 7 or 8 is a “Passive.” Throw these scores out. Anyone with a score of 9 or 10 is a “promoter” and anyone with a score of 0-6 is a “detractor.” Take your % of detractors out of the total ratings and subtract it from your % of promoters out of the total ratings. Whatever % comes out of that, negative or positive, turns into your NPS score.

That’s it, you’re done.

So, if 50% of respondents were promoters and 10% were detractors, your NPS is 40. Well sounds straightforward enough… what’s wrong with that?

NPS Example

In the above example, product A has two 10s (promoters) and eight 6s (detractors). So you subtract the % of detractors (80%) from the % of promoters (20%) to get -60% as a total which turns into an NPS of -60.

Product B has one 9 (promoter) and four 0s (detractors). So you subtract the % of detractors (80%) from the % of promoters (20%) to get -60.0% as a total which turns into an NPS of -60.

So product A has a final NPS of -60 and product B has a final NPS of -60. The products have the exact same NPS.

Girl Staring

Why NPS Sucks

Arbitrary First-In Data Grouping

When working with ratings you will almost always have to lose some accuracy to achieve an average “rating.” Often this involves rounding a final number.

Rounding is a form of data grouping. When you are saying 49.469 will be rounded to 49.47 you are grouping data based on  a set of parameters or rules. Usually this is done at the very last possible stage to avoid, as much as possible, abstracting out the detail in data too early to prevent inaccuracies.

The sooner in the process you group the data, the more divergent comparable data sets will become in the final calculation because you stack small inconsistencies into bigger and bigger ones, creating a cascading chain of building inaccuracies. That is why most scoring systems round at the last possible step before producing a score.

Additionally, the wider the range of this “grouping” the more inaccurate, and less reflective of the original data set, your final rating becomes.

NPS has one of the widest groupings imaginable. Every rating between 0-6 is considered exactly the same. That’s right, 60% of all possible ratings are grouped and considered “equivalent.” A further, less egregious, grouping happens when 7 is considered equivalent to 8 and 9 is considered equivalent to 10.

No Consideration for Predictive Accuracy or Volume of Data Set

NPS does not employ any mechanism of considering the volume or number of data points when creating a calculation. So a data set with one 0 and one 10 is considered exactly equivalent to a data set with one million 0’s and one million 10’s. This is also a weakness shared with traditional averaging. The average of the above two data sets (one with two data points and the other with two million data points) will also come out to be exactly the same.

With traditional averaging, the first product would be considered superior to the second

What is the solution to this? The solution is to produce two scores, one an average that does not take into consideration the number of data points and the other a Wilson score which does weight the number of data points.

If you want a more thorough explanation of Wilson scores here is a great blog on the topic: http://www.evanmiller.org/how-not-to-sort-by-average-rating.html but the jist of it is that a Wilson score takes into consideration the number of data points and predictive accuracy into consideration.

But if using Wilson scores is too complicated for you, the solution is to just use averages.

In Defense of NPS

big knight
An NPS defender

NPS is about net detractors and net promoters! It’s about the intangibles!

Argument: The entire point of NPS is that it is about net promoters and net detractors. Net promoters will spread the good word about your product and net detractors will spread the bad word about your product. The net neutrals will say nothing so they have no influence!

Response: This is predicated on the assumption that someone that rates your business or product a 6 will be just as much of a vocal detractor as someone that rates your business or product a 0. So instead of assuming that the amount that someone promotes or detracts your business is correlated linearly with their rating, you are putting people into an arbitrary bracket and assuming that those brackets map to peoples’ behavior non-linearly with no evidence to back that fact.

NPS is easy

Argument: Everyone uses NPS because it is easy to calculate! None of this complicated Wilson score mumbo jumbo!

Response: So is an average rating. When in doubt go with an average rating. NPS provides a poor return on complexity by both simultaneously adding complexity and butchering data sets. Calculating an average is both easier than NPS (you just add every rating together and divide by the number of ratings) and does not butcher the data set.

NPS is powerful because of the survey question. “On a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend [product name] to your friends, family or business associates?”

Argument: the true power of NPS is that you are calculating your viral coefficient! The survey question is the critical piece!

Response: There is no reason that you can’t ask this question and calculate your scores from the results in a different way. Just because you ask this specific survey question, you do not have to use NPS to calculate the results.

Additionally, NPS survey question does not add anything that other loyalty-related questions cannot provide. According to a study by Hayes (https://businessoverbroadway.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/QP_June_2008_True_Test_Of_Loyalty.pdf), there is no evidence that the “likelihood to recommend” question is a better predictor of business growth than other customer-loyalty questions (e.g., overall satisfaction, likelihood to purchase again) and the “likelihood to recommend” question does not measure anything different from other conventional loyalty-related questions.

The Hero’s Journey of Coding

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The Hero’s Journey of Coding

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Almost universally learning to code is hard. It is hard and it is frustrating.

 

Almost universally learning to code is hard. It is hard and it is frustrating. Resources to go from 0 to 1 as a beginner are easy to find but figuring out the path from 0 to mastery are not.

The modern coding environment only complicates this as more and more options, tools, frameworks, and potential paths are invented. These options are designed to make coding more manageable, but for a beginner can be overwhelming.

My goal here is to lay out a clear, structured path from 0 to mastery I call “The Hero’s Journey of Coding.” The Hero’s Journey is hard. The Hero’s Journey will be frustrating and will feel hopeless at times. But the Hero’s Journey works.

I heavily based the strategy on research from Cal Newport (computer science professor at Georgetown University) and Barbara Oakley (professor of engineering at Oakland University), as well as on a large body of research into learning, and more specifically, learning technical subjects.

Learning to code is a non-linear process and forcing a strictly linear structure on it will slow your learning process. It is analogous to learning a language.

Two hypothetical people start studying Mandarin at the same time with no prior knowledge of the language. One begins a course that promises mastery of the language by the end of the course. The other takes the same course… but supplements it with reading books in Mandarin, watching shows in Mandarin on Netflix, speaking to Mandarin-speaking people in his or her area every day, listening to the news in Mandarin, listening to podcasts in Mandarin, memorizing Mandarin grammar structures and vocabulary words, switching to the Chinese servers in the online games they play, asking about aspects of the language that confuse them in Mandarin language forums etc.

Because the second person is varying their types, contexts, and methods of learning, they will learn Mandarin surprisingly faster than the first person while preventing burnout by altering the kind of cognitive load they place on their brain.

Additionally, since the gains are cumulative, the second person will exponentially approach mastery faster. This approach is backed by research. If you want to look into it further, Harvard has an excellent compilation of research into the topic here: https://bsc.harvard.edu/study-tips-guides

Differing your types and content of learning also promotes neurogenesis (production of new neurons in the brain). Here is a study on the fact: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445739/. The other thing proven to increase neurogenesis, by the way, is exercise (specifically aerobic exercise). The same study linked covers that topic as well if you are interested.

In this guide, I’ve put together the findings of this research into an actionable sequence I call “The Hero’s Journey of Coding.”

Some parts of this guide, particularly towards the end, will upset people and may be construed as overwhelming or discouraging towards beginners.

I’ve purposely constructed this guide to be the antithesis of the other guides I’ve read (and I’ve read hundreds) which have been too vague, too introductory, and too afraid to get into the nitty-gritty of how the actual process usually looks.

What I lay is not the only way to learn, but it is a research-backed, experientially backed, and effective way to learn. Here I offer the gory details of the whole process, so I hope you are ready.

The Call to Adventure: A Guided Introduction

The Call to Adventure: A Guided Introduction
Hope rests on our young hero as he begins his journey.

The first step in the hero’s journey is a guided introduction. Before a hero can pursue his core quest, he must learn the ropes. This most often comes in the form of a course, often a video course.

You are going to want to find a long-form introductory course (minimum should be 40 hours). You can start by going to Udemy and sorting by duration (https://www.udemy.com/topic/javascript/?duration=extraLong&sort=popularity). Other popular alternatives are the Odin Project (https://www.theodinproject.com/) or Code Academy (https://www.codecademy.com/).

Two instructors  I personally like are (https://www.udemy.com/user/maximilian-schwarzmuller/) and (https://www.udemy.com/user/coltsteele/). But make no mistake, this course is just going to give you the shallowest feel for what you are about to pursue.

You will begin to get the breadth of what you need to learn. You will start to know the tools, frameworks, terminologies, and places to look for knowledge.

Don’t worry too much about the language or frameworks that you start with as long as they fit your end goals and are popular. Coding languages are not like spoken languages; once you know one in-depth, you can pick up others fairly quickly. So the language you start with will not doom you down the line if it falls out of popularity. Also, as you become more knowledgeable, you can make a switch if necessary.

Don’t fall prey to language and framework “paralysis by analysis” and instead do a week’s worth of research and then dive in and commit at this stage to the course, language, and framework you have chosen. Finish the entire thing from start to finish.

Other alternatives to a video course are classes or boot camps if that is more your style. If you went to school for something like computer science or have the equivalent experience already, you can skip this step entirely.

Think of the guided introduction as defeating the low-level beasts you need to get from level 1 to level 10. Make no mistake, some of these “low-level beasts” will be formidable.

In fact, the low-level beasts are often a more significant obstacle than the higher level beasts that will come along later because your skills will scale up faster than your enemies.

You are going to need a little help. It’s time to consult the oracle.

Supernatural Aid: Consult the Oracle

Supernatural Aid: Consult the Oracle
The ancient Oracle is wise but fickle.

Who is the oracle? The oracle is known by the mystical name “Google.”  You can ask the oracle anything, but you need to ask it the right way.

As you ask the oracle more questions, you will get better and better at divining answers from her mystical responses, which may often lack context and appear unusual. Often answers will appear in coding forums like Stack Overflow (https://stackoverflow.com/).

Sometimes you will find out your question has already been asked and the answer is already available. At other times, you will find out that you must ask the question yourself.

As you go further along, you will never stop Googling but the answers to your questions will more rarely appear as they get more technically complex and more specific.

The Vision Quest: Your Core Quest

The Vision Quest: Your Core Quest​
Many heroes plunge to their death before ever completing their quest.

You cannot keep dispatching low-level beasties forever. You need to pursue your core quest. Your core quest is a project which you continually build on and improve as you learn more.

The core quest should start as soon as the guided introduction is finished. You need to learn how all the concepts tie together and work in the real world. The less like a simulation and the more like your end goal the core quest is, the better.

The core quest will start out humble but will develop into a save the world scenario. The core quest is what you never lose focus on and is the most crucial part of the journey. All the other parts of the journey are to supplement the core quest.

The core quest is from where the glory and victory in the Hero’s Journey comes from.

Descent Into the Underworld: Do Battle

Descent Into the Underworld: Do Battle​
Untold evils lurk in the putrid underworld.

As you pursue your core quest, you must do battle with great foes to improve your skills. These foes come in the form of coding challenges from sites like leetcode (https://leetcode.com/), codewars (https://www.codewars.com/), or hackerrank (https://www.hackerrank.com/).

Coding challenges are a different kind of coding than your core quest or guided introduction. You want to pursue different types of knowledge paths so you don’t burn out doing the same kind of learning. Remember, research indicates that diversifying your learning strategy exponentially improves your path to mastery.

Start with the most manageable problems and eventually try to work your way up to the hardest ones. Try to make it a goal to do every single problem in the site in your chosen language if possible.

The Master of Two Worlds: Learn from the Masters

The Master of Two Worlds: Learn from the Masters
There are many with deep, ancestral mastery to share.

As you slay great enemies, you will feel the need to go more in-depth in specific subcategories of battle. This is where you consult the masters.

The masters have created great tomes for you to pore through. Using Javascript as an example, start with the thinner tomes (https://eloquentjavascript.net/) and work your way up to the great towering tomes (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FK9VBD7/?ie=UTF8&%2AVersion%2A=1&%2Aentries%2A=0).

This does not come after your core quest or doing battle but is interspersed between. As you pursue your core quest and do great battles with enemies, you will need to take breaks to regenerate and refresh yourself. That is when you read these great tomes.

Ascension, Apotheosis, and Atonement: Arcane Knowledge

Ascension, Apotheosis, and Atonement: Arcane Knowledge​
Arcane knowledge that some may find unnatural.

The tomes will give you great knowledge but you will find yourself thirsting for the more arcane and specific knowledge. This is the last part of the coder’s journey.

The arcane knowledge is the documentation itself. This is the raw, unfiltered, incantations. You will learn sick and unnatural abilities from these arcane sources. Start out by reading the documentation as a reference point beginning with the core quest but the spells and incantations are brief and specific, and so, should eventually be memorized.

The documentation itself is usually brief enough to be fully digested overtime. I suggest turning the entire documentation for the tools, frameworks, and languages you use into online flashcards using something like quizlets (https://quizlet.com) and gradually memorizing them.

So, for example, if you are a web developer using MongoDB, Express.js, and Node.js that would include the entire mdn docs (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/), MongoDB docs (https://docs.mongodb.com/), Express docs (https://expressjs.com/en/api.html), and Node.js docs (https://nodejs.org/en/docs/). It would also include any tools you use like Bootstrap (https://getbootstrap.com/docs/4.3/layout/overview/) or Mongoose (https://mongoosejs.com/docs/api.html). If you use it and it has docs, include it.

This may seem overwhelming, but you would be doing this over a long, long period of time and piece by piece. Evidence that this strategy is effective: https://bsc.harvard.edu/files/smarter_studying_8-10-16.pdf

Having the documentation memorized is a sick and powerful ability. This is the most grueling, controversial, and formidable-sounding part of the hero’s journey, which is why I saved for last.

This comes after you have slain your great foes and have completed most of the journey and are searching for that last, last edge to push you over the top into glory.

Go forth, hero, and find your glory.

What to do if You Don’t Have a Technical Cofounder

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What to do if You Don’t Have a Technical Cofounder

One of the most common issues that entrepreneurs run into, that no one seems to like to talk about, is lack of a technical cofounder.

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Introduction

One of the most common issues that entrepreneurs run into, that no one seems to like to talk about, is the lack of a technical cofounder.

In the startup world, it is almost a bit of a taboo to mention that you don’t have anyone that can actually build out your idea. Telling someone this will often elicit from them an exasperated but sympathetic “oh…” accompanied by a glazing over of their eyes as they lose interest.

My goal here is to relieve the pain, confusion, and desperation that I so often see this issue causing entrepreneurs.

What do you do when you have a great idea and are ready to execute but there is no one on the team who can actually build the product?

You have four options.

Yes that is right, the decision can actually be distilled into four different options one of which, depending on your unique situation, will stand out as a much better choice than the others. The path you choose has far reaching consequences for the future of your company so don’t make this decision lightly. At various companies and times in my life I have experience with every single one of these options and have seen the resounding successes and devastating catastrophes that can result from each, many times over.

Finding a Technical CoFounder

This option is both the best option and the most unrealistic. Finding a technical cofounder is like entering into a marriage, it is an important decision and one which a lot of the time does not work out. If you rush into a cofounder relationship out of desperation there is a high likelihood that it will not end well.

On the list of why startups fail “Not the Right Team” is the number 3 reason at 23% (https://www.cbinsights.com/research/startup-failure-reasons-top/).

Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail

A potential technical cofounder has to have a combination of high commitment, sufficient technical ability, and right cultural fit with the rest of the cofounders which is very rare to find. Often chasing a technical cofounder will result in a long period of fruitless searching after which you are back to where you started, so if you pursue this option, make sure that your budding venture can support this potentiality.

Hiring a Local Developer

The second option is to pay a developer to code it. This option is split into two sub-options.

The first sub-option is to pay a local developer to join the team full time. This is a great option but requires money. A local developer (assuming you live in the states) usually commands a six-figure salary. Most startups that don’t have a product yet just cannot afford this.

Furthermore, without a product and traction, it is very difficult to impossible to raise enough money to cover a six figure salary. You are in a bit of a chicken and egg situation with this option where you need the money to build the product and you need the product to raise the money.

Hiring an Overseas Developer

The other sub-option is to hire an overseas developer (typically somewhere in Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe) to build the mvp. This option can be affordable for most startups (https://medium.com/existek/top-it-outsourcing-countries-in-2019-772df2af7705) but comes with its own host of problems.

developer salary by country

Source: Payscale.com

Typically, chief among the issues are code quality and communication barriers. Overseas developers are priced more cheaply because they tend to produce a lot buggier code and are less fluent in English than their local counterparts. These two things combined can mean you spend a chunk of money on an overseas developer and come out with something unusable that will need to be scrapped and recoded from scratch anyways.

There are some ways to mitigate these two issues. If you are fluent in the overseas developer’s native language you can mitigate the communication issues. If you rigorously filter which developers you hire and go slightly upmarket in price you can partially mitigate the code quality issues. Taken to an extreme, with these two strategies sometimes a startup can successfully have their entire dev team overseas. Usually this works best when the startup founders are from the same country as the devs, can fly overseas when necessary, and all the overseas devs work in the same office together with its own management hierarchy and are not remote (i.e. all overseas devs work together in one office in Bengaluru and are not spread out across India). This is the exception and not the most common case. More often than not, going with overseas developers wastes time and money with not much to show for it in the end.

Learning to Code

The final option is for one of the current cofounders to learn to code. Most of the time this is going to be the answer. The strategy takes advantage of what many early stage startups have (time of the cofounders) while not requiring what many early stage startups don’t have (resources). Long term, this strategy also tends to reap the most benefits. The better you understand the technology you are using the better you can manage, understand, and filter developers. Even if you are not always going to be coding the product, it is a worthwhile investment to learn how to so that you understand the technical aspects of the product better down the line.

History supports this option as generally the best route. Google, Facebook, Airbnb, and almost all of the other unicorn startups had their founders code the mvp. In fact, it is difficult to find examples of mega-successful startups that did not follow this model.

This path comes with its own gotchas however. First, it will take a matter of months to develop the mvp and a huge time commitment. The amount of time taken to code the mvp is a function of the aptitude for learning to code of the cofounder pursuing it, the time they put in per week, and the complexity of the mvp. Tinker with these factors and you can go from having a working mvp in two months (cofounder with aptitude for coding, putting in 12 hours a day, and relatively simple mvp) to never having an mvp (cofounder has a very low aptitude for coding, won’t or can’t put in the sufficient time, or complexity of the mvp compounds a combination of low aptitude/insufficient time).

The Final Decision

So final decision tree goes like this:

Can you afford a significant amount of time looking for a technical cofounder and abide by the possibility of not finding one or one not working out?

Then try to find a technical cofounder.

Otherwise, can you afford to pay out a six figure developer salary?

Then hire a local developer after a rigorous filtering process but keep in mind that most of the time you will be better served by learning to code it yourself.

Otherwise, do you have the technical knowledge/native bilingual proficiency to manage overseas developers?

Then possibly hire overseas developers but keep in mind that most of the time you will be better served by learning to code it yourself.

Finally, if you didn’t fulfill any of the conditions of the routes above, learn to code it yourself.

Conclusion

A lot of people will tell you that learning to code will take years and is a waste of time. I was told something similar by a lot of very talented technical people at well known companies. There is a lot of a gatekeeping attitude around coding unfortunately.

For someone who is intelligent and committed this is just not true. Learning to code is one of the most useful and rewarding things you can learn as a software-focused entrepreneur that will bear fruits for the rest of your career.

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Note: I offer this opinion free of commercially influenced bias. I am not selling nor am associated with any product that teaches people to learn to code.

Achieving Product-Market Fit

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On the Importance of Achieving Product-Market Fit

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What is the most important thing for a company to do? If you could only get one thing right, what would it be?

If you ask successful founders and VCs, you will start hearing the same thing again and again: achieve product-market fit. Often you will hear this but not get a clear explanation of what product-market fit is. So what is this elusive product-market fit?

Boiled down to its purest elements, it is having a solution to a problem (product) for a particular group of people (market).

If you don’t have product-market fit, there are only two ways to pivot to achieve it. You need to either change the product or change the market.

Changing the market is often harder to do but it is the right choice in certain situations. This is what Twitch did. Twitch originally started as JustinTV (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin.tv), a live streaming platform for people to share their lives over video. But the founders noticed something strange. More and more people were using this platform to watch other people play video games.

They had built a solution for a problem and group of people that they didn’t know existed. And so, they began focusing on this group of people (changed their market to fit the product) and Twitch was born.

However, more often than not, you know your specific target market but your product is still in its infancy and needs to be molded into something that solves a potential problem for this market. In this case, you need to change the product.

But how do you change the product to fit the market? How do you know what the market wants? You have to listen to the market, or in other words, get product feedback.

You need to create a feedback cycle, or loop, in which the customer is giving their feedback, the company listens, they reimplement the product with the suggested changes, and then get more feedback, etc.

This is how great startups and great companies are born. If the company is really good, they will gather feedback at every step of the process.

Why is this cycle valuable? The sooner you can kill a product or feature that won’t achieve product-market fit, the more resources and time you save, and the sooner you can start working on a product or feature that will achieve product-market fit. That is why tightening and strengthening your feedback cycle is one of the highest impact changes you can make to your company.

Now let’s turn it around and look at it from the customer’s (market’s) point of view. Why does the customer want to offer feedback?

There are two primary drivers for leaving feedback. The first driver would be a personal connection to the company, brand, or someone at the company. The second potential driver is self-interest, that the suggestions they are making would directly benefit the customer. Both of these, again, are dependent on a tight feedback cycle.

A tight feedback cycle increases the velocity of feedback implementation. If none of the suggested feedback is ever implemented, the feedback is neither helping the company nor benefiting the customer. The other variable in this equation is the effort taken to give feedback. No matter how much the customer loves the company or wants a feature, if they cannot figure out a single possible way to get the feedback in the right format, to the right person, the company won’t get the feedback.

Conversely, if you minimize the amount of effort taken to give feedback to be minimal, you will greatly increase the volume of feedback and increase the pool of potential customers that you get feedback from.

Some of the most beneficial feedback comes from your marginal customers, the customers at the edges. These are the customers who are slipping away that you want to recapture to increase and retain your user base. Your fanatical customers you already have locked in.

Warning shameless plug: that is why our in-app plugin is such a valuable tool. It lets the customer effortlessly deliver feedback directly to the company in the right format with the relevant content.

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